Julia Child in Delhi – Sangeeta Makes Her Vegan Malai Kofta, Uday Park
The great chef’s life in Delhi.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Everything was almost lost trying to pay for Papa’s medical bills when he fell ill. The land had to be pawned. Sangeeta, the third of four sisters, then left Turbul, her village near Ranchi in Jharkhand, and came to Delhi where she built a career as a cook in affluent households. She went on to earn enough money to get back the family’s land.
“There was a time when we would go to other houses in the village for a bowl of rice but now other people of the village come to ask us for rice,” she says.
The Delhi Walla is hanging out with Sangeeta in a tony apartment in Uday Park. She works in the kitchen.
Sangeeta has her home in the same building. She shares it with Prayag, her husband, a driver. “We had a love marriage,” she says.
Having started as a domestic cook 12 years ago, Sangeeta can rustle up a number of homely dishes.
But it was a challenge when she got her present employers a few months ago — they are vegans. “It’s no big deal for me to make dishes for vegetarians but what to do for somebody who doesn’t even have doodh (milk)!”
But then this was nothing compared to other challenges that Sangeeta had so successfully overcome in life. Tonight she is making a dish in her employer’s kitchen that traditionally uses milky stuff — the creamy malai kofta of all things! But, hold on: “I’m making my vegan malai kofta.”
How will she do that? Well, Sangeeta has a trick up her sleeves. Check out the recipe.
1/2 kg lauki
One small bowl of besan
1 small piece of ginger
7 cloves of garlic
A few green chillies
Some coriander leaves
One bowl of coconut milk
To taste, salt, red chilly powder
1 tbsp, turmeric powder, dhaniya powder, cumin seeds
First, make the kofta.
Peel and grate lauki. Mix it well in a bowl with maida, spices and some coriander leaves. Divide the mixture into a dozen or more portions and roll each into a small ball. Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, add 3-4 balls at a time and deep-fry. When done, place them on a tissue paper to drain off the excess oil.
Mince tomatoes and onions separately in an electric grinder. Heat one large spoon of oil in a pan over a medium flame. Add cumin seeds, and when they begin to crackle, add chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Fry them for a bit and then add minced onions. Keep stirring until the mixture turns brown. Add tomato puree and the remaining spices, and keep stirring until the oil starts separating from the mixture. Now add coconut milk.
Simmer for five minutes. Turn off the flame. Add the kofta and cover the pan with a lid for five minutes. Serve with rice.
Her long journey