People do different things to de-stress. Some go on trips, some go shopping, some watch T.V. I read recently that Taylor Swift writes songs to give her relief from stress. As for me, I de-stress by whipping something up in my kitchen!
I started to learn how to cook when I in school, but my learning is far from over. The chief inspiration behind my desire to cook is my mom. My mother can cook practically anything! When I was younger, she would cook a whole range of dishes for my brother and me – Spaghetti Bolognese, Chowmein, Beef Stroganoff, Bechamel Sauce With Broccoli and Brussels, Pork Vindaloo, Mutton Sukka, Lamb Chops, Gobi Manchurian, Fish Moilee, Bhaingan ka Bartha, Coconut Crepes, Dal Makhini, Crab, Prawn Curry . . . and the list goes on. I was blessed to eat all this growing up, and from home, not from a restaurant! And my mother managed to cook all this without the help of the internet.
My relationship with cooking became intense about 10 months ago when I got married. My husband, who is an excellent cook, taught me how to “sweat the onions” (cooking onions on a low flame till they lose their colour) instead of burning them. I’ve learned a bunch of different recipes by finding them on Google and Pinterest. I also have two recipe books at home which I refer to – Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” (my engagement gift from my then fiance) and “Baking Basics and Beyond” by Pat Sinclair.
I love comfort food! I recently discovered how to make whole wheat (healthier than plain flour) pasta, from scratch! The dough works for lasagne as well. I wanted to share the recipe for this easy, make-your-own pasta with you. I’ve also shared my recipe for a tomato sauce, below.
My recipe was inspired by these two posts:
- Dulce Delight shows you how to make pasta without a machine from All Purpose Flour and Semolina Flour: Watch her to understand how to mix the egg and oil into the flour and how to knead it. She uses a different proportion of eggs to flour. Watch her explain it here or read about it here.
- Sugarlaws shows you how to make wholewheat pasta without a machine: I follow the proportions and method given in her blog, here.
- Salt: ½ tsp
- Flour: 1 cup (This should work for two adults)
- Eggs: 1
- Oil: 1/2 tbsp (some skip the oil – it’s up to you, but I prefer adding oil to the floor and you can add more if you like)
- Herbs, if you’d like
- You’ll need a bowl, a flat surface, rolling pin (a chapathi one will do), and a pizza cutter or a knife or a pair of scissors.
- Place the flour in a bowl.
- Make a hole in the middle of the flour (like a volcanic crater).
- Crack the egg into the volcanic crater AND add the oil and salt to this mix. Add the herbs (if you’d like).
- Using a fork or a dough mixer whip the eggs and oil. Begin by just stirring just the eggs and oil, then gradually incorporate the surrounding flour (the above videos demonstrate how to do this).
- When this forms a crumbly mix, remove the fork/mixer and start using your hands to knead the flour.
- Gradually add water to the mix as you knead. The trick to kneading, lies in adding water little by little and NOT in one shot. As you keep kneading, it will get firmer. If it’s too dry and isn’t combining to form a blob of dough, add a little more water. If it’s too wet, and the dough is sticky and isn’t forming a blob, add a little more flour. Keep kneading till the dough has become compact, and doesn’t stick to your fingers. When there’s barely any dough on your fingers and the dough sticks firm and compact in the bowl, then you can move on to the next step.
- Leave the dough aside for an hour or more.
- When your dough is ready, take a bowl of flour for dusting. Keep your flat surface, rolling pin, and cutting instrument ready.
- If you’re planning to make pasta, depending on the shape, pull out a bit of the dough, and flatten it (like you would when making rotis), and keep rolling till it’s thin, but not breaking. Dust both the sides of the flattened dough with flour.
- Cut the flat dough in the shape you want. I’ve cut it as linguine. Dulce Delight shows you how to cut it in other shapes, too. Keep it aside in another bowl. If you want to make lasagne, then just flatten the dough in the shape of the pan you plan to make the lasagne in, and keep aside. Remember to dust the dough so the noodles don’t stick to each other.
- To cook the pasta, add water in a pan, add salt and oil. Once the water begins to boil, drop your pasta in it (you don’t have to cook your lasagne sheets, as they get cooked in the oven when you’re baking them). Reduce the flame and let it boil till the pasta is cooked to your liking.
- 4 fresh tomatoes (add more if you want the sauce to taste more “fresh”)
- 200 gm – Tomato puree (Hommade Tomato Puree you can get from the store)
- Garlic – As many pods as you want
- Onion – 1
- Red Chillies, crushed OR use chilli flakes OR chilli powder
- Basil (you can skip this if its not available)
- Puree your 4 fresh tomatoes. Cut your onions into small cubes and chop your garlic as small as you can.
- Heat a pressure cooker with oil. Reduce the flame to low.
- Add your chopped garlic to the oil when it is hot enough.
- Once it’s slowly cooked, add onions, but don’t burn them. “Sweat the onions”, i.e. let them lose their colour.
- When the onions and garlic are cooked, add your chilli flakes, oregano and salt and mix them well.
- To this, add your freshly pureed tomato. Let this cook for a bit.
- When the tomatoes look cooked, add tomato puree from the box, and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the same amount of water as you added the puree from the carton.
- Shut the pressure cooker, and let it cook till 3 or 4 whistles have gone.
- If the water hasn’t disappeared when you open the pressure cooker, then keep cooking it without the lid till the water evaporates.
- Add freshly cut basil or any other herb you’d like.
You can either add the pasta to the Arrabiata and cook it for a while, this will help the flavours sink into the pasta better, or you can add the Arrabiata sauce on the already cooked pasta. Don’t forget to grate some cheese on top! Yum.
If you love Aubergine, here’s a recipe you can try by Laura Vitale – Pasta alla Siciliana
For a non–veg tomato sauce or Ragu try Gennaro Contaldo
Enjoy your pasta!