Ever have one of those moments when you taste something at a fancy restaurant and you go “Why didn’t I think of that?” So simple and yet so tasty. And so it goes into your “I’ll cook this someday” stash. But the taste continues to haunt you, in a “I can almost taste it” kind of way.
Well that day finally dawned last night. I finally dusted off the rut I was in to cook this up for dinner. I didn’t have any measurements or a recipe, just the memory of that taste. And I was quite proud of the result.
This was inspired from the tasting menu at “Gaggan”, a restaurant that boasts of a “progressive cuisine” – modernist Indian and molecular gastronomic dishes. We visited this restaurant almost 8 months ago in Bangkok and it does live up to its name. Palate tickling dishes like the green peas and paneer ravioli and the paan mousse alongside the usual paneer makhani and urulai roast. If you’re ever in Bangkok do check it out.
So this dish goes under the category “When India met Italy” on Gaggan’s menu and it’s quite true to the name. The green chili and cilantro bring out the Indian-ness in this dish and the olive oil and garlic keep it grounded.
We had this last night with some roasted garlic broccoli and garlic bread. Yes I know, a garlicky evening. But then who’s complaining:). My food critic LOVED it.
You can make this with gluten free or buckwheat linguine/spaghetti as well without compromising on the taste. Just add some more garlic and green chili for the extra punch of flavor. Ingredients: (serves 6)
- Spaghetti or linguine – 1 pound
- Garlic – 3 large pods or 4-5 small pods, crushed
- Green chili – 5-6 small green Indian chili, finely chopped(adjust according to spice level)
- Spinach or baby spinach or arugula – one small bunch or 2 cups of baby spinach
- Cilantro – chopped, one bunch or 1 cup
- Extra virgin Olive oil (EVOO) – 2 tbsp
- Take a large pot of water(about 5 quarts for one pound of spaghetti) and bring it to a boil, add a generous amount of salt (I used Himalayan sea salt). Add the spaghetti and cook as per the instructions on the box. Remember, overcooked spaghetti is a crime, it should be al dente (cook for about 10-12 minutes and check if done). Drain the pasta and keep aside.
- Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add the EVOO . I used a lemon flavored olive oil since it was in my pantry and it actually gave the pasta a nice lemony tang. You may add some lemon if you want at the end if you like the flavor.
- When the oil heats up, add the crushed garlic. Once the garlic begins to sizzle add the chopped green chilies. Add the cilantro and stir.
- Cook for about a minute, then add the spinach. Lower the heat and cook for about 3-5 minutes till the spinach leaves wilt.
- Now add the drained pasta and salt to taste.
- Stir well until the pasta is completely coated with the oil and the ingredients.
- Serve hot with some garlic bread on the side.