My mom often talks about when chowmein first came to the mudikhanar dokan (kirana or grocery stores of the neighbourhood) near you. There was a sudden upsurge in cooking and eating this “Chinese” staple. But unable to get hold of proper knowhow on how to cook this, people invented all sorts of recipes for cooking up a storm in their kitchens! They used potatoes, onions, brinjals, gourds and whatever other vegetables that were available in their kitchens. Then they went one step ahead and put in haldi (turmeric), chilli powder and even garam masala! They fried it in oil and made it as spicy as possible. True, it wasn’t noodles in the original but they sure did taste nice. I still miss my grandma’s version.
A similar story unfolded in my childhood with pasta. When pasta arrived in and around us, nobody was quite sure on how to go about cooking the red and the white sauces! Sure they have the internet now and sure there were restaurants to go to where one could go to taste a somewhat similar version of the Italian cousins. But Bengali ma’s and mashima’s who are experts in turning out delicacies as intricate as paturis and muithas took up the challenge in their own way and how!
I have had versions cooked in mustard oil that gave penne a richer colour and flavour, spaghetti cooked like chowmein and once a version that was more cheese than pasta! So as my mom is not keeping well and will undergo a surgery in the near future, I decided to take up cooking pasta and it turned out quite well! So here’s my “recipe”. And as always it is extremely simple.
For pasta for 4 people You will need:
Penne : 200 grams
Tomatoes : 5 large ones
Butter : 5 tablespoons
Black pepper : 12, freshly ground
Cheese : 1 slice or cube
Oil : 3 tablespoons of any white oil
Garlic : 1
Chicken sausages : 4 ( I used Venky’s Breakfast sausages)
Salt : As per taste
Step 1: Chop up the tomatoes into small pieces. Peel off the cloves and chop the garlic. Chop up the sausages into small bits as well.
Step 2: Warm up the oil and pour in the tomatoes and garlic. Cook in high heat till it looks all mushy. Put in the chopped sausages. Pour in the butter and black pepper followed by the cheese. Mix thoroughly. Add salt as per taste.
Step 3: In another vessel cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet till soft (al dente if that is how you like it), drain the water and put all of it into the other vessel with your sauce.
Step 4: Mix and cook for a minute before serving up hot!
P.S. I deliberately did not use chicken or any other meat because they are easier to under or over cook for amateurs like us but sausages that way are easier to handle. So cheers and enjoy your pasta!