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RPCV Bill Derringer sends recipe from Bangladesh
RPCV Bill Derringer sends recipe from Bangladesh
COOK OF THE WEEK: Bangladesh recipes to try
By Jo Hall
We went halfway around the world to obtain this week's cook, thanks to e-mail, all the way to Bangladesh. Our cook is Bill Derringer who grew up in Mobridge, the son of Dorothy Derrenger and brother to Dorothy Bickel. After graduating from Mobridge High School in 1959, Bill was in the Peace Corps and then, 15 years ago, ended up working in Bangladesh with his wife, Kathy, a teacher. They have built their home on the banks of the Ganges River outside of the capital Dhaka. He reads the electronic version of the Mobridge paper every week and keeps himself informed about what is going on in Mobridge from half a world away.
He appreciates the simplicity of his life in Bangladesh and says it compares favorably with the simplicity of the life he remembers growing up in Mobridge and the apparent measured ease of the lives of old school friends he reads about in the paper. His appreciation for the simple things in life includes the food he eats in Bangladesh. He writes:
In Bangladesh, we don't have Walmarts, not even supermarkets. We still have open stall markets with beef sides hanging in the open air. Chickens are killed and dressed out in about 10 seconds while you wait. The vegetables are displayed and sold from huge mounds of fresh produce without refrigeration.
Nothing comes in cans or frozen packages from display coolers. Spices (chili, onion, garlic, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger and tumeric) are all bought fresh and ground daily on a stone slab that looks like a tombstone; crushed between that and a heavy stone cylinder like a rolling pin. These are treasured pieces of equipment that are passed down from generation to generation.
Our milk is delivered in an open milk pail to the door every morning by our dairy-farmer-neighbor. It has to be boiled (pasturized) and most of it is used to make fresh yogurt, called doi, and a cottage cheese called kurd.
The same is true of the eggs we eat for breakfast; they come fresh every day from the guy whose chickens scratch around under our banana, mango, papaya and avocado trees in the garden. Eggs are not sold by the dozen here, but by a measure called a ehali and cost about 25 cents, say 75 cents a dozen or so.
We have fresh bread (roti) every morning for breakfast. Roti is a flat, dry tortilla type of bread, cooked on a hot, dry griddle. Our kitchen is pretty simple too: a two-burner gas stove, a cold water sink and a refrigerator. That's it. No dishwasher, disposal, food processor/blender or microwave oven.
We often think that because everything is bought or delivered fresh daily, we really don't need a refrigerator either, but it's sort of a status symbol. With this setup and a lot of helping hands, we regularly feed three meals a day to 12 or 15 people.
The main, staple food in Bangladesh is rice. We buy 250 lbs. of rice each month, together with 125 lbs. of onions (a small, pungent, tear-jerker variety about as big around as a quarter), and 125 lbs. of potatoes (also a small, native variety about the same size as the onions).
The potatoes are cooked whole with the skins on and yield a wonderfully nutty flavor and make terrific hashbrowns with fried onions and egg pie.
(Dry fried bread)
Sift 2 to 4 cups flour. Heat 2 cups of water to a boil. Heat a dry griddle to hot. Mix by hand the flour and enough of the boiling water so that the two are thoroughly mixed. (You'll want to use a wooden paddle to start with because the dough will be too hot to handle comfortably). At first, the dough ball will be sticky and messy to work with. Sprinkle the dough ball with flour and continue to knead it until it is dry and firm and no longer sticky. Pull off manageable pieces of dough and roll them thin and flat on a floured board. Use a round 8 in. plastic Tupperware lid to make nice neat circles. Fry the flattened dough on the dry, hot griddle for about 2 minutes per side, pressing the dough onto the griddle with a small piece of wadded-up kitchen towel to hasten the process.
Hash Brown Potatoes
with Egg Pie
Wash the potatoes and cube them into 1/4 in. squares. Let the cubes soak in lightly salted water for a few minutes while you dice up a few pungent onions (about 1/4 the volume of the potatoes). Bring a skillet to med. heat, add a few Tbsps. of cooking oil, add the potatoes and onions for browning. Add 1/4 cup water for cooking. Cover the pan and cook until tender. Add salt and spices to taste.
The egg pie is made while the potatoes and onions are cooking. Use 2 eggs per person. Mix the eggs with a little water, yogurt, onions, garlic, dash of salt and spices to taste. Pour the mixture into a frying pan at med. heat, cover and cook for 3 to 5 min. per side.
It is easiest for you to make this sour (unsweetened) yogurt to use a starter by buying your first batch from the store. If this is not possible, add a small amount of lemon juice as a starter to lukewarm milk. Put the warm milk and starter in a med. to large-sized covered casserole dish, wrap it in a blanket and let it sit for 6 to 8 hours. Yogurt is a healthy dessert when mixed with raisins and uncooked Quaker Oats, and it is a good substitute for mayonnaise in salad dressings.
Let the yogurt age for another 8 to 10 hours. Put the aged yogurt in a clean, white cloth and hang it over the sink to drain away the excess moisture and presto -- in another 6 to 8 hours (with room temperature of 60-70° F.) you'll have the most wonderful cottage cheese. Salt to taste.
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