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Hello, my name is Kundo (also, Jasmina). Professionally, I practice art but I am interested in many many other things too. I should state here that I find the system of training people to become specialists boring, regimented, robotic and even stupid. Some of my major interests are food, farming, sustainable living, alternative healing methods, the human condition and probably aesthetics. I believe that everyone is a lively mixture of many things and specialists are just a myth!

Chagem ooti / Ooti asangba (Green rice porridge)

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It’s been a long time that I have been planning to do this recipe for the blog. This is the first time that I am making it. It was quite hard to find someone who knew how to make Chagem Ooti. I had always thought that it would be a difficult recipe since no one around me seemed to know how to prepare this dish. Mama doesn’t know. My Aunts don’t know. And of course, the boys and men in the house don’t know it either. I wonder if it is the same with other families. I have always thought of Chagem Ooti as a kind of gourmet variety of Ooti with only a few people knowing how to make it.

I was lucky enough to finally find someone who knew the recipe. This distant Aunt of mine came to visit us and Mama told me that she knew the recipe. So, I sat down with a pen and a paper and wrote down all that she told me about the recipe. And so, here we go. 

Chagem Ooti (Rice Ooti) or Ooti Asangba (Green Ooti) is usually made with rice and paangkhoklaa. Paangkhoklaa is loosely understood as taro leaves by many, including myself. But when I enquired more closely, it turned out to be a kind of wild taro leaves. One can add other greens such as young leaves of tomato, sponge gourd, pomegranate and more. Even young sponge gourds are used in this recipe. But the source that I got the recipe from specifically told me not to use too many varieties of greens in it. She told me that it’s better with only paangkhoklaa for this recipe. And she advised me to add only young sponge gourds or young sponge gourd leaves if I must add other greens to it. Too many different greens would probably spoil the flavour by clashing with one another. I took her advice and used only paangkhoklaa for the recipe. I wanted to add sponge gourd to the recipe but it wasn’t the season yet so I had to do without it. 

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So, for this recipe you will need:

  • 10-20 paangkhoklaa leaves.
  • a few sprigs of chinese chives.
  • a handful of rice (preferable sticky rice).
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil.
  • half a tsp baking soda.
  • salt to taste.

For this recipe, it is best if a pot with a smaller neck is used… like a chaphu or any other earthen pot. But I am using an open pan here since I have to photograph the steps and an earthen pot doesn’t give me a good picture of what is inside. 

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Wash the rice and put it in a pot with some water. Set it on the stove.

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Wash the taro leaves. The leaves are water repellent and I almost always get carried away while playing with the water sitting on the leaves. Doesn’t this make a lovely picture? 

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When the water starts to boil….

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… put the taro leaves in it. 

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I was also instructed not to chop them and that I should put them in, whole.

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Add more water, if required, to make sure that the leaves are submerged. Put a lid on it and let it boil. (By the way, you can see me with my camera reflected on the lid.)

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The starch from the rice might make the water brim up and you might need to take off the lid from time to time. 

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Make sure you don’t stir it. You don’t want to break or cut into the leaves until they are cooked properly. This, I was told, was to prevent the dish from ending up having that sting (what we call lengba in Meiteilon) in the taste which is typical of raw taro. 

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So, this is what it will look like when the leaves are cooked. They will be mushy and soft, and will disintegrate into a paste when pressed between two fingers. Now you can start stirring. 

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Now, add the baking soda. Baking soda makes the liquid explode into a froth. And adding it earlier would result into something similar to opening a can of beer just after shaking it. We need to make sure that the starch from the rice is settled properly and doesn’t brim up anymore when we add the baking soda. In this stage, the froth created by the baking soda will be manageable. 

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Add in water from time to time when the gravy gets too dry. Keep boiling it. The leaves will disintegrate slowing. It takes a lot of time. There shouldn’t be any large piece of leaf like the one shown above. Keep stirring the gravy to disintegrate such pieces. 

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When all the leaves are disintegrated into a paste, turn off the stove and set it aside. 

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Now, cut the chives as shown above.

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Heat the oil in a pan and fry the chives in it.

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Fry them till they start turning brown.

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Empty the contents of the frying pan into the porridge. Add the salt too.

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And cook them for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The ooti is done. 

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Enjoy it with a hot bowl of rice or like a regular porridge. 

Beef in kidney beans sauce

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Well, here’s another original one from me. I have cooked beef only a few times and I wasn’t sure how this would turn out. I had got a beef request long long… long time back and I had been trying to come up with a nice recipe.

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The only beef recipe I knew was the one with mint leaves and I didn’t want to repeat it from my sister’s blog. But I am happy to announce that

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Mang-gan ooti (yellow peas cooked with baking soda)

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I was in a coma!….. Nah! I am just fooling around.

I don’t know what was holding me back from blogging all these months. But I just couldn’t get myself to start. Life in Manipur is delightfully distracting. I had so much to do outside the internet. But the fear that I might become one of those who abandon their blogs midway got me crawling back to my blogging. And yeah, now I remember how much fun it is. And I am back! 

I had always imagined that my comeback recipe would be something grand and elaborate. But I ended up settling for something simple. Besides, there were some food wishes in my message box that I had not checked for months. And it was only fair that I start with them first. So someone requested for Ooti. And the request seems to be extended to other bloggers too. 

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Ooti is a Manipuri (meitei) dish made, most of the time but not exclusively, with pulses.

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Anonymoussays:
could you please let me know where abouts you can find wasabi paste in Bangalore?

I am not familiar with Bangalore but I asked my sister and she says that she usually gets it from Foodworld gourmet, MG road or Nilgiri’s, Brigade.

Anonymoussays:
I love love love love your blog. My name is Vandana and I am from Manipur too and I have a deep love for cooking and baking. :)

Thanks! It’s nice to see an encouraging feedback. I have been quite busy and have not been able to blog. But it’s nice to be greeted by such comments when I open tumblr after such a long time. 

Yen thongba #1 (Manipuri Chicken curry)

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First off, I am glad I am able to keep up with my plan (so far!).

This is the most popular way of cooking chicken in the Meitei community of Manipur. It seems to have trickled down from the North Indian chicken curry. The proportion of the ingredients can be tweaked to make the final dish more spicy or oily or the gravy more soupy or dry. This is usually the first chicken curry recipe that every enthusiastic newbie cook learns. Most of them go on to personalise it in their own ways. This recipe was taught to me by my brother who is a poultry enthusiast. Cuisine-wise, that is.

There are many more ways to cook chicken curry with a Manipuri twist.

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Chicken onion stew

I have been on and off from blogging for a long time now and there have been times when I remained static for months only to emerge with two or three recipes. Well, I think it will have to be this way since I get involved in things every now and then. Recently, I have been into soap making and it has been fun and fruitful (…will be putting up a blog post regarding that, later)… unlike my baking experiments. 

Anyway, my plan, this time, is to come up with three consecutive chicken recipes and end it with a beef one (I got a food wish!) . Let’s see if I am disciplined enough to act on it. 

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would love to get a beef recipe. please please. :)

Didn’t see this till today.

I will work on it and come up with one soon. But I have to admit, I haven’t cooked beef before. I have only been using traditional roasted beef that we get here to flavour my soups. Well, always good to try something new! Thanks for asking :)