Monday, October 3, 2011

Martha Monday--How to screw up a great recipe

My October/November issue of Everyday Food arrived mid-September, and immediately I was drawn to a particular recipe for it's promised flavor and ease: One-pot curried cauliflower and rice. It looked delicious and healthy--I had to make it.

I had my friend and neighbor Yogita check out the recipe before I tried it, so we didn't have a repeat of slow cooker Indian chicken stew.  Yogi declared the recipe legit, and recommended that I add a pinch of garam masala and two bay leaves. Two weeks later, cauliflower went on sale at Jewel and I had my chance. 

I began by browning the cauliflower, just as the recipe said.

Then, I took the cauliflower out and added two cups of basmati rice to the pan.  And that's where I went totally and completely wrong.  I poured 3/4 cup of basmati rice into the measuring cup and then opened up a new bag of basmati rice for the remaining 1 1/4 cup amount.  The problem was that the first bag was white basmati rice and the second bag was brown basmati rice.  See the problem? 

I added the garam masala and bay leaves per Yogi's instructions, and instead of cooking it in the oven as the recipe called for, I kept it on the stove. 


I didn't even realize there was a problem until the dish was supposed to be done cooking and it was quite apparent that some, not all, of the rice hadn't cooked completely. I dug through the garbage to find the empty white basmati rice bag and compared it with the brown basmati rice bag. White basmati rice = 12 minutes of cooking time. Brown basmati rice = 30 minutes of cooking time. CRAP.

Originally, when I fell into lust with the recipe and decided to share it with you, I had planned on this being a lovely story of me finding a new favorite fall dish that was easy to prepare, flavorful and healthy.

"This is great!" I thought. "It's easy to make, totally legit Indian food and healthy to boot. Everyone is going to love this!"

And then, I totally screwed it up by not paying attention to the major cooking time difference between white and brown basmati rice. Which is really, really sad, because otherwise this recipe would have turned out perfectly.

Yogi even smelled the finished product and declared it a success--it smelled like true Indian cuisine!  Then, she took a good look at the rice.  "Amanda, what the hell?" she asked. 

Just kidding. Yogita doesn't talk that way. But she did notice immediately that the rice wasn't done.  And I think she was just as disappointed as I was--she really wants me to get the hang of making Indian food, if only so I stop begging her to cook for me all the time.  

As I've stated earlier, I abhor waste so I couldn't bear to throw it out.  Instead, I ate all of the one-pot curried cauliflower and rice.  Every. Crunchy. Bite.  And truly, the crunchiness wasn't that bad, but each bite killed me because I could taste that this would have been a fantastic dish if I hadn't screwed it up.   And I think that speaks to how great this recipe is...I screwed up bigtime, but it was still tasty.

Next time, I'll get it right.  And in the meantime, if you are looking for a new favorite fall side dish, pick up the current issue of Everyday Food and give this a try.  But please, use only one kind of rice to make it.  Trust me on this.

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