Remember the old Alka-Selzer commercial about the guy eating the spicy meatballs?
I thought about that a lot last night as I downed milk and plain rice to cut the burning in my throat.
For a long time the station that I kept on the TV here in my office as white noise in the background while I worked was the Food Network. I became friends with Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Giada deLaurentis and Ina Garten. I didn't actually watch the shows, but I listened to them as I worked (unless, of course, I was transcribing something).
The thing that happened during those days is that I kind of absorbed some cooking ideas, got suggestions for things to cook for dinner, became more adventurous in "winging it," and I think that our mealtimes were more interesting.
Then came the presidential campaign and The Food Network was replaced by MSNBC, CNN, and other news shows.
When I finally was so sicked by politics, and needed a great diversion I discovered marathons. NCIS marathons, House marathons, Criminal Minds marathons, and marathons of several version of Law and Order. I see more bloodshed and sick criminals in a month than probably most law enforcement officers see in a typical year!
But sometimes there are no marathons and so I go searching for something else. At the same time that I was needing a new station to watch, I found the Cooking Channel, a new entry into the field of cable television. It wasn't as formal as the Food Network and I liked its hominess, so I started using food and cooking as white noise again. It even had familiar faces -- Emeril Lagassse and Mario Batali, who had left the Food Network, Graham Kerr whom I used to watch decades ago and hadn't seen in all this time. There were tapes from the late Julia Child and the delightful Two Fat Ladies (one of whom has died). And who doesnt love Nigella Lawson's sensual approach to food?
The other day I happened on a show by Indian chef Anjum Anand, whose program is called "Indian Food Made Easy." I love Indian food, but don't cook it much.
The dish she was making was curried meatballs. We love curry and she described all the spice blends so thoroughly that my mouth was watering. I even had garam masala on my spice rack. I was all set.
So after Jeopardy was over, I set rice to cooking in the rice cooker and started making the meatballs:
1 pound ground meat (pork, beef or veal)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp (I substituted Worcestershire, which was suggested)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1 teaspoon salt
Sounds pretty innocent, doesn't it? After the meatballs were formed and cooked in oil, I made the sauce:
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
1 green chile, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup red wine
Again, it didn't sound all that bad. I substituted Worcestershire for the tamarind pulp here too. I used mild green chilis, which have flavor, and almost no heat at all.
When the sauce was all assembled, I returned the meatballs to the sauce and let reheat. Looked great!
Smelled great with all the combination of spices. I took a small taste and realized it was pretty spicy, so I poured myself a glass of milk to go with the meal and served myself the rice plain so as to sop up the heat.
Walt took a bite and his eyebrows went up as he said that it tasted very good.
That was before the steam started pouring out his ears.
We ate in silence, each of us trying to find ways to calm the burning spice in our mouths. We drank a lot of ice water (realizing that ice water does nothing for spicy heat...but it felt good at the time!). In truth, I didn't think it was hotter than some of the Thai food I've seen Walt eat, but I'm not a big fan of anything other than mild spice.
There were leftovers. I suspect neither of us is going to eat them. Needless to say, this is not a recipe I will be making again!
Parking Ticket update: I called the parking ticket office and spoke with Robin XX, who treated me like putrid meat and said she wouldn't be able to deal with me until tomorrow. The saga continues...