If you start cooking Pakistani food somewhere in your teens, out of compulsion more than passion, then at some point it is starts feeling mundane. Like you're running through the motions to achieve a certain result, but none of it excites you. Maybe you're cooler than I, but I have definitely been in that rut a little lately. Now I am happily, safely, and deliciously out of it thanks to My Indian Cookbook by Amandip Uppal.
Pakistani cooking puritans will be aghast at my blatant undying love for an Indian recipe book. Three words: Get over yourselves.
While I will freely admit that over time differences have developed in cuisine especially by region it is one of the great joys of my life to eat food that uses familiar spices to such deliciously different results. South Indian food specifically holds a special place in my heart and thankfully my friends who are spectacular cooks are there to indulge me.
When I read a cookbook for the first time I use little slips of paper to mark recipes I am interested in and by the time I was done going through this one it seemed like every other page was marked. So far I have made 4-6 dishes from it, adapting a little according to taste, and I have been so happy every time. Instagram followers will remember this salad with a light tempering. Just goes to show that there are more desi salads than kachumbar alone.
This Shallots with Coconut & Tamarind recipe is one that I made for my husband to have with daal chawal. He really enjoys condiments. And onions. I will freely admit, much to the dismay of most desis, that I am not big on onions in their raw form. But these charred tender shallots in their tangy sauce reminiscent of Mirchon ka Salan had me digging in with a fork. That extra little crunch from crispy curry leaves and the flavor boost from the Nigella Seeds really make this dish sing. While I made some adjustments to quantity and ingredients, but the bulk of the recipe for Shallots with Coconut & Tamarind is as written in the book.
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- ½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- 12 oz Shallots (10-12 depending on size)
- 1 ½ tsp salt (start w ¾, see notes)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 ½ tbsp tamarind paste
- ½ tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
- 1 sprig cury leaves
- 3-4 dried red chillies
- oil for cooking
- optional garnish: minced cilantro, sliced mild chillies
Peel and halve the shallots.
Toast the coconut and coriander seeds on medium high heat in dry saucepan, the coconut will get beautifully golden, 2-3 minutes. Stir to avoid burning
Blend the first three ingredients to a paste using a little water. Set aside.
Put a lug of cooking oil in a 10 inch saucepan and heat.
Now in with the shallots, cook for 3-4 minutes on medium high heat until browned on the outside and slightly softened
Add salt (start w ¾ tsp), ¼ cup water (may need more if it starts to burn), and turmeric. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Now pour in your coconut paste and 1 tbsp of the tamarind pulp. Mix well and adjust seasoning by adding more salt or another ½ tbsp of tamarind pulp.
Transfer the shallots to the serving dish.
Heat a tbsp and a half of oil n a small saucepan and add the nigella seeds (kalonji), curry leaves, and dried red chilli. Fry for about 20 seconds then pour over the shallots. Toss gently.
Tamarind blocks or pastes sometimes already have salt in them so to be safe add only ¾ tsp salt in the first go and adjust at the end. Similarly with chilli powder I put in two teaspoons but even at one it will have lovely flavor
If you love this recipe for Shallots with Coconut and Tamarind and want to try more from the book then Canadian friends I have good news for you. Indigo has it on clearance right now for only 5 dollars! See if you can find it in your local store!