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Delhiwale: A working woman’s self-made dinner

Anwesha Ray Chaudhuri is cooking us a dish that is a product of her own working-life imagination. It is easy to make, delicious to eat and brings together culinary poles.

delhi Updated: Dec 16, 2017 10:39 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Dilliwake,Anwesha Ray Chaudhuri
Anwesha Ray Chaudhuri at her apartment in central Delhi’s Jangpura.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

What does a young working woman living all by herself in this big city rustle up for dinner after coming back from the office? Especially when she is tired and starving.

To find out, we stepped inside Anwesha Ray Chaudhuri’s park-facing apartment in central Delhi’s Jangpura. Ms Chaudhuri had got back a few minutes ago from the ministry of external affairs where she works as a consultant.

“You know I hate peeling onions or cutting carrots so my evening dishes need to be really simple and yet delicious,” she tells us.

Perhaps Ms Chaudhuri demands too much from herself but it certainly helps that for a single person living alone, her kitchen is quite elaborate. A large shelf is stacked with a dizzying variety of spices. The fridge is as crowded as a metropolis — full of local and exotic foreign stuff including a very tempting pack of a Swiss chocolates. But then this woman has seen the world — Ms Chaudhuri did her first Master’s (international relations) in London and the second (political science) in Budapest.

Oh yes, we also spy face creams and nail paints in the fridge. “They last longer this way!” she says, while making us a cup of Turkish coffee.

Born and raised in Kolkata, Ms Chaudhury is the first Bengali we personally know who is hostile to Bengali food. “Sorry, no jhol (Bengali gravy) for me!” In fact, this evening she is making a dish for us that we have never tasted before. It’s purely her recipe, a product of her own working-life imagination. “I’m making a tofu dish with a Kashmiri touch,” she declares, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “It’s a twist on Kashmiri ruwangan tsaman… ruwangan is tomato in Kashmiri… and tsaman is paneer but I shall…” Check out the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

200gm or standard packet of tofu (cut it gently into cubes)
4-5 tomatoes
Green chillies as per taste, but the dish is best when spicy
Saunf powder, an important Kashmiri spice
Kashmiri garam masala, no other garam masala would do as this has less ingredients than the other varieties
Kashmiri var masala, a paste you can buy ready-made from places such as INA market
Ginger-garlic paste
Mustard oil
Turmeric powder and red chilli powder
Salt to taste

METHOD

First wash and chop the tomatoes. They don’t have to be finely chopped and can be chunky as they will anyway be reduced to a paste-like consistency while cooking.

Next, pour some mustard oil in a kadhai. Use white oil too, but she says she was taught to use mustard as it’s a common cooking oil for both Bengalis and Kashmiris. Heat the oil well so the kadwa (pungent) smell goes away and then add the chopped tomatoes. Fry on low heat.

When the tomatoes become pulpy, add ginger and garlic paste, red chilli powder (I add a little, just for that red colour), turmeric, saunf powder, var masala and the garam masala.

Fry all the masala together. When the oil starts leaving the mixture, add chopped green chillies and fry for another minute or two. Now add tofu. Be careful as you stir tofu. It is very soft and can easily break. Add a splash of water, and some salt to taste. Let the stuff simmer a bit. Turn off the gas when the dish starts sticking to the pot. Serve with rice.

First Published: Dec 16, 2017 10:39 IST