"Confessions of a cook book-aholic?" I am a sucker for cook books. I go weak in my knees when I walk through a book store and see all those colorful cook books adorning the shelves. Don't know what I am addicted to - the glossy prints, tempting pictures, smell of the fresh print? Whatever it is, I find it very hard to resist the temptation. Thank god for Amazon - the wish list option and a great spouse who actually is very kind towards my obsession (hope he takes the hint..lol..). I can proudly say I am an avid cook book collector and my loot is prominently displayed in the house. But the most intriguing part of all this is I seldom follow the recipe to the "T", most of the time am in a hurry or just plain lazy to open the book measure the ingredients etc. I curl up with my cook books and read it like I would a regular novel/fiction and if something interests me I make it a point to try it out before it is displaced from my memory. Am sure most of you out there will relate to this. But to be fair, I do once in a while have the cookbook open and follow the recipe meticulously - with great results.
I can categorize my cook books depending on how I use them. For instance, books such as Mark Bittman's How to cook Everything Vegetarian and Jacques Pepin's Complete techniques are my bible/encyclopedia category. There are a few other which I use to look at the pictures and drool :-) And some more which are my go-to books for authentic Indian cooking such as Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan and Cooking at home with Pedatha. I love the simplicity of the recipes and the lovely pictures in Dakshin especially.
The following recipe, cauliflower sambar, is my adaptation of the original recipe found in Dakshin. I took a shortcut by substituting sambar powder where the original recipe calls for grinding the masala. But the end result was very tasty. My husband says it tastes like a hybrid between sambar and korma !!
1 medium sized cauliflower (washed, separated into florets)
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup toor dal
1/4-1/2 cup thick tamarind water (or as required)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 tbsp Sambar Powder
1 tsp turmeric
asafoetida, a pinch
1 tsp urad dal
2 tsp mustard
4-6 curry leaves
2 red chillies
2 tsp oil
A pinch of asafoetida
- Pressure cook toor dal along with one cup water and tomatoes, until the dal is well-cooked (normally 4 whistles and wait for the steam to be released naturally). Alternatively, you can cook the dal on the stove top for 30 minutes. Mash the dal and tomatoes well. Set aside.
- In a quart pan, heat oil. Add urad dal. Let it turn light brown in color. Now add the mustard. Wait until it starts spluttering. Now add red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida.
- Add cauliflower, turmeric, asafoetida and some salt. Saute for a few minutes, until cauliflower is tender.
- Add tamarind water. Boil for for 3 minutes or until the raw smell of the tamarind disappears.
- Add sambar powder. Mix well.
- Now add the mashed dal/tomatoes. Taste, adjust salt and seasoning (add more sambar powder if required).
- Allow it to boil for a few more minutes. Add the coconut milk. Allow it to boil just for a minute.
- Remove from heat. Serve hot with rice, idli, dosa or aappam.