When I was among the single, I had a nearly religious anti-television stance. I had a couple of things I liked to watch, but when I had children i was certain that they would never be tube-focused couch potatoes, and that if they were watching television, it would be something about Peruvian architecture or quantum physics.
As is often the case, expediency and convenience trumped ideals, and I am now part of a TV Family. The bad news is that, like many people, we watch too much that is junk (the media equivalent of fast food), but the good news is that some of what we watch, particularly about food and travel, is very interesting and enjoyed by all of us. “Top Chef,” “Iron Chef America,” the British version of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” and anything in which Anthony Bourdain travels are very high on our collective list.
Last week, I watched a DVD of Bourdain’s “No Reservations” which included two separate shows about India, as well as Indonesia. The first India episode focused on Rajasthan, the second on Mumbai and Kolkata; the Indonesia journey focused on Bali and Jakarta. Watching, I was riveted by the colors, the differences in cultures, and (of course) the food. The curries, tandooris, bread and yogurts of India are not unfamiliar to me, and Indonesian food is in many ways similar to Malaysian cuisine which I love. What I had really never seen or understood was the variety and significance of spices, their freshness, and the different ways in which they are used regionally. I became obsessed with recreating Nasei Goreng, a spicy rice dish served with an egg on top, which I often ordered at our beloved and now defunct local Malaysian restaurant.
The next night brought an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” focused on a dying restaurant in Hampshire, England. One of the simple, local dishes Ramsay taught the chefs to prepare was a sautee of fresh, local mushrooms served on top of a perfectly poached egg on toast. It appealed to me both in its simplicity and in the use of a few fresh, delicious ingredients relatively un-messed with and prepared without pretense or lily gilding.
For lunch today, I created a Southeast Asian-Hampshire fusion (I know, it would never sell as the cuisine for a restaurant) which was quite good. I may watch too much TV, but at least we got a really good lunch out of it. (There is no picture because a) we ate it immediately, and b) it was as unattractive as it was delicious. I’m not sure I can do anything about that).
Too Much Tube Curry
- 8 oz cleaned, sliced mushrooms (I used Mini Bellas)
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups rice, cooked
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/4 cup Thai basil, chopped
- 1 cup good quality chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Garam Masala
- Salt and pepper
While rice is cooking, sautee onions, garlic and mushrooms until mushrooms are tender and onions are transparent. Add about 1 tablespoon Garam Masala and a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue to cook until fragrant. Add broth and stir, scraping up bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add basil, and cook to reduce sauce, stirring occasionally. Taste sauce and add more Garam Masala, salt and pepper until you reach a level of spiciness that you like.
While sauce cooks, and about 5 minutes before the rice is done, fry eggs in a large skillet, leaving yolks runny. (You could poach them, if you prefer). To serve, fill a bowl with rice, top with two eggs and a ladle full of sauce. A little chutney doesn’t hurt.