This time around, our assignments were to watch The Hundred Foot Journey and read the novel by Richard C. Morais. Culinary Adventures with Camilla is hosting the FnF portion and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen is hosting the CtB portion.
I really wanted to do two dishes, one for each club. I had visions of a spicy Indian dish and something else from French cuisine. I hope to have a French dish to post before the final due date of November 30. If not, this Two-Potato Vindaloo will have to do.
(Besides, I just harvested a five gallon bucket of sweet potatoes.)
slightly adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
1 T. cumin seeds
1 T. coriander seeds
8 cardamom pods
½ t. cloves
½ t. ground turmeric
1 t. paprika
1 t. ground cinnamon
2 T. vegetable oil
10 green onions, chopped
½ t. brown mustard seeds
½ t. fenugreek
1 T. ginger paste
1 Thai chili, finely chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
1 ¾ c. water
1 T. sugar
2 ½ c. Idaho gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” dice
1 sweet red pepper, cored and cut into 1” pieces
2 ½ c. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” dice
Cilantro leaves, to serve
Dry-roast the cumin and coriander in a small frying pan until they begin to pop. Transfer to a spice blender. Add cardamom pods to frying pan and toast for a few minutes. Smash pods and until seeds are released. Discard pods and add seeds and cloves to a spice grinder. Grind until fine. Place in a small bowl and add the turmeric, paprika and cinnamon, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pot. Add the shallots, mustard seeds and fenugreek, and sauté on high heat for eight minutes, or until the shallots brown. Stir in the ginger, chili and ground spices, and cook for another three minutes.
Add the tomatoes, vinegar, water, sugar and some salt, bring to a boil and leave to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and peppers, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Now add the sweet potatoes, make sure all the vegetables are just immersed in the sauce (add more water if needed) and continue cooking, covered, for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove the lid and leave to bubble away for about 10 minutes, to reduce and thicken the sauce.
Serve hot with plain rice and garnished with the herb leaves. May also add a dollop of yogurt to cool things down.
I read The Hundred Foot Journey soon after it was published after hearing an interview with the author on the “Diane Rehm Show” in 2010. I immediately sought out the book. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, I found it a bit dark and depressing. The mother is killed by an angry mob by page 27. I was also depressed by the hollowness Hassan feels, even after he achieves stardom and the elusive three-Michelin star rating. As the final lines of the novel state, I don’t think Hassan ever recovered from “that hungry space.”
I found the film, which I just recently watched, definitely more upbeat and joyous. The scenery struck me, especially in the French village. There was an other worldly look to the street that separated Le Saule Pleureur and Maison Mumbai . Hassan’s unique and inherent culinary talent almost borders on fantasy, thus giving the film a dreamlike timelessness to it. The film also is much more upbeat than the novel. (Or, as upbeat as it could get with the death of the matriarch in the first few minutes of the film.)
I watched a few bonus features after the film during which Spielberg and Oprah waxed poetic about the making of this culinary classic. Apparently, they found the farmhouse that would be morphed into Maison Mumbai and were sold on it for a location. Unfortunately, there was no chateau across the road to serve for Le Saule Pleureur. To solve this problem, they built a facade of the chateau and did a inordinate amount of filming with green screens. I definitely think this technique lent itself to the dreamlike quality of setting.
I also enjoyed the fashion sense of the film. The characters’ wardrobes were timeless as well.
Here is something I never say: I think I enjoyed the film more than the book.
I hope I have time to post another dish for Cook the Books. I think I will if I can just some decent pictures.
Now for a future suggestion for FnF and a total aside: Have you seen Burnt?
Not only does it star Bradley Cooper (whoop-whoop), it is a truly culinary movie.
Last week we did something really crazy. We had two dates on two different school nights. (Wild, huh?)
On a Wednesday night, Circle Cinema (our local independent movie house) hosted a Burnt viewing with complimentary hors-d’oeuvres by the chef of the Polo Grill in Tulsa. The event started at 6:00 and by the time we arrived at 6:30, all the food had been inhaled, but there was wine. After a couple of glasses of wine and some popcorn, we sat down with the rest of the crowd to see the film. I loved it. I know it has been panned by critics, but does that really mean anything?
If you have seen the film, then you will appreciate where we stopped for a late night dinner after the film: