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Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Bite of a Bruschetta!

Imagine a scene, you are making Bruschetta, arranging the tomato cubes onto the bread, drizzle the olive oil, friends have surrounded you, waiting in anticipation, some waiting with hunger, some with doubt-how can a simple tomato on bread be good! As your hands finish the seasoning you have begun to doubt yourself-what if they completely dislike it! Such an embarrassment! And then you announce it is ready! As everyone takes the initial bites, then  they take another, another…somewhere around the room you hear the word “mmm…mmmm” , but mostly there is not much sound , you are confused thinking maybe they don’t hate it. And then you get the real surprise…everybody just loves it, they just love it, no wonder  they go “mmm…” and gulp it without wasting much time, it totally pulls you into it. That is my dear reader is the magic of bruschetta!

When I made this Italian dish for the first time, it hit me so pleasantly that I fell in love with it just that moment, and not just me, my sister, my mother; my dad, my friends were soon to follow. While I was reading about it, I didn't have a doubt that it will be a nice dish, why? Because I know and believe in the power of tomatoes, garlic, rock salt and olive oil. What I did not know was that it will be much more than nice! It was super nice.

                                                                              By now you know that bruschetta is Italian in its origin, pronounced brusketta, it also comes in the category of antipasto, which refers to food served before the heavy meal, appetizer. Thankfully it has nothing to do with someone who hates pasta as some of us might think looking at “antipasto”.  Sometimes the Italians will simply char the country bread over charcoal, rub them with an open clove of garlic, drizzle their peppery olive oil and some rock salt and that is simply bruschetta, so all you need is good bread and some good olive oil. The one I am gonna tell you about is the tomato and coriander/cilantro bruschetta, which is my version,  though fresh basil is such a loving friend with tomato, so when you have fresh basil near your hands go for it, and there will be no stopping for you to fall in love with that.

                                                            Did I tell you that I have a story of this bruschetta making incident? Here it goes. One evening while I was at my friend’s home, we were animating or planning to animate something while she said she was hungry, so was I. And then another friend of hers drops by and co-incidentally she is also hungry! So there we are, 3 hungry young souls, one thinking “oh what she has in her home?” another thinking “gosh what do we eat now! I have almost nothing in my home” another thinking “mmm…what I am gonna cook now for them?” as it turns out my friend really didn't have anything substantial in her home to diminish our hunger, so I said well “lets buy some bread and I will make bruschetta!”  So we go out to buy bread, on the way my friend’s friend suggests we go to her home and cook there. So we end up in her kitchen. Now I have never been in her home before, and she lived with her parents and grandparents. So there I was cooking for a bunch of people I don’t know! Ah the pressure of expectations was on me heavily. Just to make it worse my friend has glorified the charm of bruschetta to her friend repeatedly to such an extent that her friend begun to say at a point of time that “oh I think this bruschetta is going to be disappointing! When someone praises it so much, building the expectations so high, mostly it fails to impress that much”

It didn't! I didn't! Bruschetta didn't. it gave them such a pleasant surprise and everyone was so happy after eating it, all I was hearing was laughter and praises after praises. Everybody was asking how did I make it? They were already coming up with little suggestions of their own which was so inspiring. Even the grandparents, whom I feared will not like it ended up loving it. Imagine my feelings reader! It was getting late in the night and I had to get back home, suddenly one of the grandparents suggests to me that since you have to travel for an hour to go home and if it is inconvenient  for you, I will ask you to stay here. I didn't stay because I had to go-while I was going out I hear the real story! My friends were surprisingly discussing among themselves which goes something like this “oh! So many of my male friends have come in my home, some repeatedly, they never asked anyone to stay! And he comes home for the 1st time and they are asking him to stay! How come, what happened to them?”

                                                Imagine my feelings again dear reader! All I was thinking how cooking can touch someone, how it can it make someone so happy, and thanks to my bruschetta for that lovely evening. It has entered into my list of simple golden cooking list forever. Now without wasting any more time I will give you the recipe straightaway, however you have to promise me that you will make it! Wont you? Bon app├ętit.

 The Recipe:  you will need
5 slices of brown bread/1 ciabatta loaf cut in 12 thin slices/ 1 baguette sliced thinly
4 red ripe plum tomatoes
5 small garlic cloves/3 medium garlic cloves, peeled, halved along the breadth, rubbed in a little salt.
2 tbsp of chopped or roughly torn coriander/cilantro leaves.
5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of pink rock salt (we need some pinches)
Freshly milled black pepper

                    Begin by preparing the tomatoes before toasting the bread, so boil some water and pour the boiling water over the tomatoes in a bowl so that they are submerged in it. Leave them for 1 minute, drain the water and then pour cold water over them, now slip off their skin, you will see they will come off easily. You can put little cross mark cuts on the top and the bottom of the tomatoes before pouring the water, in that way you can begin pulling the skin off from the cuts. Now chop them into small chunks, put them in a bowl, sprinkle freshly milled black pepper, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, chopped coriander leaves, pinch of rock salt on them, mix them.

In a hot oven, I put it at 180 degrees Celsius; toast them until they become golden and crisp. If you have a ridged griddle, pre-heat it over a high heat for 10 minutes, when it is very hot, place the slices of bread on the diagonal and give them about 1 minute on each side until the same texture is achieved and they have charred strips across each side. You can toast them under a conventional grill. Now take a sharp knife, quickly make about 3 little slashes across each one (I skip this step if I am using slices of brown bread), rub the garlic on the hot crisp bread surface, you will see how the garlic vanishes as you rub it over the crispy surface of the bread. This is why it is important to get the toast the bread to crispy or you won’t be able to rub the garlic. Now drizzle 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over each bread slice, sprinkle little rock salt over them, rub them lightly with your finger.

Now top the bread with the tomatoes, season quickly with freshly milled black pepper, some chopped coriander leaves, a pinch of rock salt over the tomatoes, few more drops of olive oil over the tomatoes and serve straight away. And you will just feel the magic as you bite into one.

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