Roti (Indian unleavened bread made on daily basis) and fried onions, if you know these two things, you can cook a meal. Thats what my mother always professed.
Strange that it may sound, one may still believe a regular bread making a way to a meal but how fried onions. I hear you on that. " I will never fry onions, I can do without birista on biryani", I used to say.
As a eldest child in the house of four children, one would expect me to be a loving and caring daughter for my parents and an elderly guiding sister to my siblings. But I was a rather rebellious child. I never stopped telling mom how boring and torturous it is that a woman tolls in the kitchen whole day, as if there is nothing more to life, always declaring that I will never enter the kitchen.
But my mom wasn't easy on us . Even after hundreds of arguments she would still ask me to atleast see her making roti. There were times she would do the emotional blackmailing, after all she labored behind four children in the house. Each one came with there own set of
trouble attitude. If I was an aggressive and rebellious child, the other sister was a shy and ultra sensitive , and yet other sister was so different from all us, she worried us. Top it with baby brother in a house of three girls. And only because I love her so, I would give in and come to kitchen to help her make roti. From kneading the dough, rolling out the roti to cooking it, she would make me do one component of it from time to time.
The next step was to make fried onions. She would say "Its requires patience and keeping an eye and mind on what going on the stove, this will help you later ". Of course, I never gave in to the idea. I always thought she was exaggerating the importance of fried onions. After constant arguing, burning quiet a few kilograms of onions, she finally succeeded in teaching me the two things. That was the end of my journey in the kitchen.
I had never made a cup of tea or coffee (yes, not even instant coffee) for myself let alone others. Regardless of this attitude, when I first stepped into the kitchen in my new home, I felt no fear. Armed with my mother's recipe I cooked up the meals from the very beginning based on Andaaza (estmation) cooking. I found myself getting at ease immediately. I was fascinated. The girl who claimed cooking was not for her wanted to cook whole day. There were times, I would make 3 main course meals a day. Not to say our grocery bills was sky rocketing. I knew I had to calm down, but I almost never did until I decided to pursue a corporate career My enthusiaum continues, but unlike before I have to deal with a lot of pre planning and time saving meals to get through the day.
It might not make sense, but I do credit my easiness in the kitchen to what my mom taught me "Roti and fried onions if you can these two things, you can cook a meal". Cooking everything else is a creative outlet, but roti and fried onions are a rather tedious and time consuming. If you get through this, you feel like cooking a real meal is pleasure.
I often make fried onions in bulks and store it. Here are some of the way in which I use it :
1. Biryani is not complete without fried onions. Garnish with fried onions to give your biryani an authentic taste. If you making biryani with precooked meat (chicken or meat) add fried onions while layering.
2. When plain rice just isn't doing it for you, try serving your rice with sprinkling of fried onions, coriander and mint. You will always want a jar of fried onions on your side.
3. Meat love onions and Indian based meat recipes love fried onions. Garnish mutton stews, chicken curries with fried onions and people have to think your an Indian food pro.
4. Make fried onions sauce for your curries. Yes, you read me right. Next time you add yogurt, cream or making tomato based sauce, try adding a tbsp of crushed fried onions to it. Gives a different dimension of smoky and sweet flavor.
5. Add crushed fried onion in your meat patties, kebabs, cutlets or burgers.
6. Add fried onions, salt and lemon to yogurt or cucumber raita.
What else do you do with fried onions? I would love to hear.
Deep Fried Onions
7-8 red onions (medium size) *
Oil for deep frying
* I was out of onions otherwise I double this quantity.
The key to crispy fried onions is thinly sliced onions. Yes, so thin that you see through the slice. Its not like someone is going to arrest you for a few thick slices, but try your best.
Heat oil for deep frying in a wok/kadai on low heat. Make sure the oil is only hot enough so that when you add the onions it sizzles. You don't want it to be too hot or smoking. Add all the onions to the kadai depending on the size of kadai, the onions should submerge in the oil.
Let it cook till it bubbles. And then turn up the heat to medium low.
You want to cook the onions without much stirring till they start to get a color. Too much stirring leads to uneven cooking and you will end up with not so crispy onions. On the other hand, not stirring enough might lead to burning.You need to watch it. Once the onions goes to that light golden, it doesn't take much time to go to brown, dark brown and black!
Once you see they have attended a light brownish color. Switch off the stove. The onions will continue to brown.
Remove the onions and let them drain in a large sieve rather than a tissue towel.
The onions need to be spread on an open surface without being crowded. The key is to allow air to crisp it up while it cools. Toss them around while they cool. When completely cooled store in an air tight container upto 2 weeks or freeze for longer periods.