21 August 2006

san jose kaman

it's all a test. and everybody wins. all the time. except the board
exams. speaking of which, last week in the great golden state of
california, as part of my Circle of Grand Reconciliation, i spent a
few hours at my father's house in south san jose.

there could be a lot to delve into but the most memorable of the
ephemera was the cooking, as always. his wife, apu, who has been
working hard for the last twenty years, taught me a quick version of
kaman --


[ a delightful indian snack or breakfast, spongy goodness with
titilating flavors and wheat free at that ]

for the 'cake':
1 bowl of besun (check pea flour)
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ENO
2 tsp of sugar

for the 'icing'
chopped cilantro
shredded coconut
sesame seeds
mustard seeds
green chiles
2 tsp of sugar

1. the first and most important question is "WHAT IS ENO". and, just
as naturally, im not really sure. it looked like a small bottle cost
25 rupees in the motherland and the only decipherable characters
spelled "fruit salt". in apu's word, it was a "chemical ferment" like
"soda" but whereas too much soda ruins the flavor, "too much eno and
no problem". in the altogether likely event that you dont have ENO, i
would use a smaller quantity of baking soda. if you're aversa to soda,
i would add a bit of yeast and let it sit for 12 hours. which is
probably the original recipe anyhow.

2. you'll need a steamer. a steamer is a pot with water in it, a metal
ring or someother device to gain lift, and a metal plate to place on
top of the ring. so whatever is in the plate will be steamed. heat the
water before proceeding.

3. mix together the besun, salt, sugar, ENO, and a wee bit of turmeric
for the color. slowly add water, constantly mixing, to produce an even
batter. you want the batter to be thick but mobile, closer to muffins
than pancake.

4. when well mixed, light, and airy, pour/scrape the batter into the
metal plate (greased!) and set it to steam. it should take exactly 7
minutes and 40 seconds. if not it will be RUINED so be careful. hah.

5. as it steams like a happy and vegetarian mollusk, chop your
cilantro and shred your coconut. if you have another burner, toast the
mustard seeds in oil, add the asofetida and green chiles (trisected).
fry for a bit and add a cup of water (10:1 water:oil) and the sugar.
simmer until sugar has absolved itself of any prior sins.

6. when it's steamed, test it for rigorous completeness as you would a
cake. switch the steam pan for another one (you'll make at least two,
i'm sure). let the first kaman cool.

7. as each kaman cools, sprinkle sesame seed, coconut, and cilantro
liberally on top. after it cools for a few minute, poor the spicy
syrup over the top, letting the greedy risen besun soak up all the
watery goodness.

ready to eat. great breakfast food. thank you apu.

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