Monday, August 3, 2009

Rajmah Masala and Transformer No. 88

We didn't have electricity for over 12 hours yesterday. The longest spell so far in our exactly nine months in Tajikistan. Even when we were on the "regime" in February, the coldest month, they cut us out from 9.30 am to 5 pm or so. And again from 11 pm to 5 am. I forgot how much that sucked until now.

The first time we called the state-owned electricity company they said the lights would be back on at 2pm. The second time they said by 5pm. The last time they sort of skirted the issue altogether but confessed it was transformer 88. Not good news. If it's maintenance you can count on the electricity come back on soon, but this. Well, this could be a long time.

So, when the lights weren't on by 5pm, I knew dinner had to be stove top-made. And simple. And fast. And not heat up the already very hot kitchen. A quick hunt in the pantry and produce bowl, elicited this absolutely glorious indian lentil dish.

First start with these four ingredients: Canned kidney beans, rajmah masala spice mix, two tomatoes and a red onion.

Next, consult the back of the box for approximate instructions and notice the expiry date.

Rule #1 of living in the Former Soviet Union: Ignore expiry dates. Always.

Next, chop half the onion in a pretty small dice.

Next, the seed and chop the two tomatoes. These will break down so you don't need to go micro on them.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan.

Saute the onion until the edges start to brown, then add the tomatoes.

Then add about 50 grams of the masala.

Mix until a paste forms.

Add the rinsed beans. Or pre-cook your own and then add. Mix it well and add some water until you get the right sauce-y consistency. I went overboard with 3/4 of a cup and had to reduce the liquid down until it was right, which used the rest of gas in the tank under the sink. No electricity, no gas and low water pressure. The trifecta!

The end product.

Normally I'd make batch of brown rice, or if really crazy, try my hand at paratha, but with no gas with which to cook, no electricity to run the a/c when it's nearing 100 degrees and my kitchen is hotter than Hades, this was it. Short and sweet. And delish.


Anonymous said...

I saw your post on PW and thought I'd look at your blog. My sister lived in Tajikistan for a few years and, as I recall, she always said that there were 3 utilities - water, electricity and gas - and she only EVER had one at a time! My post on PW was for you, too. #111 in the homeschool/map story... : )

A Broad Living Abroad said...

Just read your post on PW. We also lived in Turkmenistan! From '97-'01. Wonder if we ever crossed paths with your sister?

Anonymous said...

Peace Corps and International Red Cross/Red Crescent Society - don't ask me what years she lived in which country though because they are blur together for me! LOL Her name is Sheila Thornton.