Pasta has become a staple in our kitchen from the past few years. In a given week, I sometimes would have cooked more pasta than rice. Reason being it is simple, wholesome, one pot meal.
It is amazing to see how we acquire new tastes over a period of time. For me, pasta and its sauce is an acquired taste. Also American coffee, salad dressings, olive oil, mayonnaise, Mustard, garlic and many such more.
For a red chilli powder eating South Indian, pasta with just tomato sauce is very bland and tasteless. But over a period of time my poor palate have compromised with the taste, better yet, started liking it.
But I must admit, my taste buds do have some limitations in adaptations. I still cannot eat pasta with Pesto or Alfredo sauce. That is some leap which I have not taken. I have tried to like pesto, but it is something about the nuts and cheese which makes the sauce too dense, which does not please me. .But, that is just me. May be someday I will be going All Pesto! On the other hand, I love pasta with no sauce. The one that is just tossed in some olive oil and garlic. The one that we can find in Cheese cake factory called ,Evelyn’s favorite pasta 🙂
This time I was at it again. Cooking pasta in the kitchen. I boiled the penne until Aldente, sautéed some vegetables and was just about to pour in some pasta sauce. I would have stirred in all the things together, sprinkled some salt , poured in some generous amounts of pepper powder and red chilli flakes and would have just enjoyed it that way, like any other pasta night. But, not tonight. Tonight the South Indian in me came alive. It said, NO NOT AGAIN! not that same under-salted, no spice tomato sauce again. come on!
For a minute I froze. I had to think. I had to think quick about what should go in to that pan before those veggies started to burn. I had to make up my mind between sauce and no sauce.
A minute later, I knew what I wanted. I had made up my mind. No sauce. I turned to the freezer and pulled out the small packet that was tightly tucked behind the frozen coconut all the way at the back.
And there it was. A small packet rolled and tightly fastened with a rubber band. a packet of dry red garlic chutney powder. A soulful condiment for a South Indian. I took a second to take a whiff of it directly from the packet and the next second I was dreaming of a spicy masala dosa.
I took a tablespoon full of the red powder and sprinkled it all over my roasted vegetables in the pan. Gave it a nice stir. Finally I added my long waiting pasta in to the pan. Mixed it thoroughly. Minutes later my whole kitchen was filled with aromatics. I decided to toss in some curry leaves too. Very South Indian now!
And there it was, my no sauce, very South Indian Penne Pasta.
What we need:
1 cup of penne pasta cooked al dente
2 tbsp oil
1 cup of Japanese eggplant cut into cubes
1 cup of cauliflower florets
1 cup of red onions sliced length wise
1 tbsp of red chilli garlic chutney powder(available in Indian stores)
1 sprig of curry leaves
salt as per taste
In a pan heat the oil. once hot ,add onions and fry them on medium heat very slowly until it caramelizes and the sweet flavor pop out.
Next add the eggplant and fry until the eggplants cook very soft.
Add cauliflower and fry along with the onions and eggplant until it is cooked yet firm.
sprinkle some water to add moisture and speed up the cooking process.
Next add the curry leaves and red chilli garlic powder and stir well so that the powder coats all the vegetables
Finally add the cooked penne pasta and stir well altogether.
You can substitute any other vegetable too. But the above combination of veggies were just perfect.
Vary the amount of red garlic powder according to your spice level
If after adding pasta, the dish looks dry, just drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It gives a great flavor while making the whole dish nice and shiny.