Pasta conundrums - 'Tagliatelle', the Indian way!
Fresh handmade pasta just has to be on your list of the 10 most soul comforting foods, no matter what ethnicity you belong to. At least it is on mine. What’s not to like in it, really? I made tagliatelle for the first time when I was 14. You’d think it’s not that big a deal but it was, for an Indian kid still not exposed to authentic Italian fare. Well, anyway, my first attempt was ridiculously hilarious with strands of pasta overcooked and super slimy; my brother and I initiating our first official food fight! Ah, memories!! :)
I understand the panic that you’d drive yourself into if you were told to create some insanely difficult shapes like Agnolotti, Tortellini, and Sacchetti. I still fret at the thought of it. However, this one is so simple, you’d like to think of it as a 3rd-grade craft project! :P The best part, there are a million ways you can make the dough interesting. I once made a bacon-flavored dough, yep. Like I said, you’ve got to have a load of fun doing this.
Traditional sauce is great but I like to stir things up every once in a while. This Indian inspired minced meat ragu is insanely delicious!! Along with the spinach tagliatelle, it is the perfect culinary union of two cultures. :)
Spinach Tagliatelle with an Indian Inspired Meat Sauce
[Serves 2 lavishly :D]
For the tagliatelle:
All-purpose flour - 1 ¼ cup
Spinach - 1 cup ( will make 3 tablespoons on pureeing)
Eggs - 1
Semolina - 3 tablespoons
Salt to taste
For the sauce:
Minced Chicken - 0.5 lbs (225 gms)
Tomatoes - 2 medium sized
Onions - ½ (finely chopped)
Ginger Garlic Paste - ¾ teaspoon
Tomato Paste - 2 teaspoons (buy it from the grocery store)
Peppercorns - 5 to 6
Bay Leaves - 2
Cumin Seeds - ¼ teaspoon
Fennel Seeds - ¼ teaspoon
Cinnamon - 2-inch stick
Cardamon - 2 to 3 ( substitute with powdered cardamom if you’d like)
Turmeric Powder - ¼ teaspoon
Mild Chili Powder - ½ teaspoon
Garam Masala - ½ tablespoon
Mum’s Special Spice Blend - ½ tablespoon ( substitute with curry powder or simply double the quantity of garam masala) :)
Cilantro - 4 to 5 sprigs (chopped)
Ghee/Clarified Butter - 1 teaspoon
Butter - 2 teaspoons
Olive Oil - 1 teaspoon
Grated Parmesan - 2 teaspoons
Walnuts- 4 to 5
In a pot, heat 2 cups of water. Throw in the spinach and blanch for not more than 10 seconds. Rinse and purée. Add a couple teaspoons of water to blend smoothly. Keep aside for later.
Before you begin with the dough, have 4 cups of water ready to boil in a saucepan.
Making the dough:
Sprinkle some flour onto a work surface. Make a well in the center.
Break an egg into the well. Add 3 tablespoons of the spinach purée.
With a fork, stir the egg and spinach slowly into the flour till it is lightly incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with your hands and form a semi-tight dough. The dough shouldn’t be too tight or too wet. The amount of flour mentioned in the recipe is enough to knead the dough into perfection. Do not use more dough unless you want your biceps toned :p
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for half n hour. If you particularly love the environment, skip the plastic wrap and store the dough in an airtight container, instead. :)
Remove the dough onto the work surface and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Dust the work surface with semolina and plain flour
Divide the dough into 4 parts.
Roll a portion of dough into a thin sheet. The dough shouldn’t be too thin or too thick. On holding it against the light, you should be able to see the spinach fiber in the dough. It should be translucent.
Roll the sheet and cut into ½ inch roundels. Open them up and lightly dust with flour to ensure that they don’t stick to each other. Keep aside and continue with the other 3 portions.
Cooking the Pasta:
Boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan.
On coming to a boil, simmer the heat and throw in some of that tagliatelle. Divide the pasta into 3 batches to prevent the pot from crowding.
Fresh pasta literally takes no more than 2 to 3 minutes to cook. Once the tagliatelle floats on the surface, give it about 10 seconds. Transfer to a colander. Drizzle with some olive oil. Cook the rest of the pasta the same way.
Yayy, one half of your prep is done. :D
Let’s tackle that sauce!!
The recipe calls for 2 tomatoes. Purée 1 tomato and chop the other into cubes.
Heat oil, butter and clarified butter in a saucepan.
Once warm, throw in all the spices; bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and the spice blend. Make sure the heat is on low- medium so that the spices do not burn. All you want to do is release all of those beautiful flavors into the oil.
Throw in the onions and cook for a couple of minutes.
Once soft, add the tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a good 5 minutes.
Throw in the tomato paste, puréed tomatoes, and chicken. Add salt, stir, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
In a pasta bowl, swirl in some fresh tagliatelle.
Ladle in a generous portion of that fragrant heritage Indian meat sauce. Garnish with coriander and a sprinkle of parmesan.
I call this my little bowl of heaven! Yurmm!
All images ©Shradha Nambiar/Chef's Satchel