I was just thinking while cooking lunch that I haven’t done one of my Sunday recipes in a while, and I’d promised my sister that I’d post our family pasta recipe so she could whip up one of her own in Adelaide. And at that exact moment, I happened to be in the process of cooking… Pasta a la Juneja.
What’s so special about our pasta recipe? Not much, other than it’s got that Indian touch to it =) Yes, we can change even the venerable Italian culinary tradition to suit our tastes. If you are an Italian purist, look away now.
What you’ll need
- Pasta of some sort. Your base material is important to the extent that it defines the texture of the dish. I just use whatever one is lying around the house, really =) Fusili is my preferred option, however. I get the type that you have to boil (I know not the technical term), but whatever works really. Portion size of the boil-type is about 75g to 100g, so adjust as necessary for the number of people you’ve got.
- Pasta sauce of some (tomato-based) sort. Again, the type is entirely up to you, but I tend to buy something from the Dolmio range – if you’re feeling adventurous you could make it yourself! For 3 – 4 serving size, half a bottle works, but may be adjusted as necessary. Real chefs use rules of thumb.
- Vegetables of a variety. I know, I know, I’m being really generic here, but this recipe is adaptable. Get at least 3 – 4 different types, or alternatively, just buy the frozen mixed vegetables from your local supermarket. Ensure there are at least carrots, because otherwise it’s not my recipe.
- Red/Spanish Onion: half to one is all that is necessary.
- Optionally – Meat: once more, I leave it up to your preferences. I’ve only done this once with chicken, but it worked out alright.
- Cheese! Grated Mozzarella works for me =)
- Salt, pepper, ginger and spices: The ingredients for any good Indian dish. Spices to taste – a little masala should give it enough of an Indian touch.
- Oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the only one I would accept.
- Water with which to boil the pasta.
- Pot to boil pasta in.
- Strainer to allow pasta to drain.
- Wok or other similar dish to fry up the veggies in.
- Optionally – Tobasco sauce. For taste.
- About 30 min to 45 min.
The Line Up
The Method to the Maddness
- Boil up or prepare the pasta according to the directions on the pack.
- For the boil type, put the water in the pot and add a pinch of salt, and get it close to boiling (when the bubble first start to form) before adding the pasta. If you’re not comfortable with dealing with hot water, add earlier.
- Once boiling properly, turn down the heat to just enough to keep the boiling rolling. Let this boil for about 7 minutes (varies according to variety – so see directions!) You want it to be slightly firm (al dente).
- Take off the heat and drain the water in the strainer, leaving the pasta to cool a little.
Al Dente (to the teeth?)
If you can manage it, do this next bit simultaneously! =)
- If you’ve got unchopped veggies, chop them now into bite-size pieces. Otherwise take out the frozen veggies and give them a quick wash to remove the frost. Chop the onion too.
- If you’ve got meat, cook this first, to your style & preference. This is primarily a vegetarian recipe however.
- Heat about 1 tbsp oil in the wok a little (just give it 30 seconds on a hot wok)
- Add some finely chopped ginger and the salt & spices, letting it get a little fried up.
- Add the vegetables (and optionally meat) and stir-fry them until they start to soften, especially the onion & carrots. Turn down the heat to 30% or so.
- Add the pasta sauce to the wok, and mix well. There should still be plenty of “loose” sauce left to coat the pasta, however, so if not, add some more!
- Let this fry up a little for 30 seconds – just to get it hot, really.
- Add the pasta from step 1 and mix in thoroughly, ensuring plenty of sauce coverage. Turn down the heat even more at this point – should be on minimum, as most of the cooking’s done and we just want a little heat.
- At this point, the dish is pretty much ready – if you want to be healthy, take it now!
The healthy cop-out stage
- For everyone else, turn off the heat, and add a splash of Tobasco for that little bit of zing
- And finally, add a bunch of cheese and “fold” it in, ensuring it is evenly spread and melted (but don’t let it cook!)
- Et voila, Pasta a la Juneja. Top off with a bit of cracked pepper and serve hot.
Pasta, my way (or the highway)
Let me reiterate that I’ve usually had this as a vegetarian dish, and it makes a filling meal at that. It’s infinitely tweakable, though, so I’d say experiment to find your own taste groove. And that’s how you do Pasta, Indian style =)