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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Love between the Lasagne Sheets…

Lasagne with Tomato n White Sauce with Soft Chena N Parmigiano-Reggiano

There is always a first time for something and then there are moments when you do a particular thing and you wonder why I didn’t do this before! For me cooking the lasagne turned out to be both the cases. Not just it is delicious, it is easy too, well almost. The recipe does need your love as much as your patience to make both the sauces. So hoping that we all have that, let’s start the fire in our kitchens! What say?

                           So I had this packet of lasagne lurking around in the table for a couple of months, somehow I always delayed cooking it simply because I haven’t cooked it before. The packet did change places in the meantime, it went missing in between! When it came back finally I thought lets cook it before it vanishes again…

                                        Lasagne is perhaps the oldest types of pasta in the world, knowing this makes me look at it in a different way. People have been eating this through hundreds of years, may be thousands of years in ancient Rome, Greece, England. So next time you are cooking this up, stop for a moment n realize you are cooking a part of history, now that makes it interesting. In fact when I think about it becomes obvious, the success of this dish, the structure of it, the flavors , it won the hearts of people throughout all these time, no wonder it is only a classic!

                                                                     Now we all do cook it differently, we add on things we like, modify. In the ancient times in Europe perhaps it was being cooked without the tomato sauce up until 1492, or at least in parts of Europe since the tomatoes didn’t arrive in many parts of Europe until 1492. So perhaps that time they were cooking lasagne with cheese n other vegetables n meat n fruits.

In my recipe I have made a quick tomato sauce by warming up the chunks of tomatoes before turning them into a puree, then further reducing it, I have added fresh coriander leaves, black pepper, cumin powder, chili powder in it. The second sauce is based on vegetable stock, so if you have vegetable stock in your fridge use that, or make your own or may be stock cubes, whatever you decide.  First I made the vegetable stock in pressure cooker because I was literally running out of time, and then I made the sauce with that stock, simple.

So now it is time to dive into the recipe for you.

For The Recipe:  You will need

For The Tomato sauce:
Tomatoes- 3 Medium
Garlic clove- 2 medium, chopped
Coriander leaves fresh- 3 tbsp, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper- ½ tsp
Cumin Powder-1/2 tsp
Pink rock salt- a pinch
Sugar- 2 pinches
Salt to taste
Butter- 1 tbsp

For the Vegetable stock:
Carrot- 1 medium, chopped into 1inch quarters
Onion- 1 medium, chopped
Green Capsicum/bell pepper- ½ of 1 medium
Garlic- 1 clove, minced
Ginger-1/2 inch, minced
Green Chili- 1, slit slightly
Potato- 2 medium, peeled n quartered
Shahi Jeera -1/2 tsp
Dry Thyme- ½ tsp
Fresh Coriander stalks- finely sliced, 1 tbsp
Dry mixed Herbs- ½ tsp
Vegetable oil- 1 tbsp
Water- 3 cups

For the White Sauce:
Butter- 2 tbsp
Flour-2 tbsp
Vegetable stock- 450ml
Parmesan cheese- 2 tbsp, grated

Lasagne Sheets:12 sheets
Soft Chena- 200gm(soft chena is obtained from curdling cow’s milk by a light acid like yogurt water or the water preserved from previous chena making, if you don’t have these use lemon or lime, add bit by bit until the milk curdles completely , then hang that in muslin cloth and hang it for 30-60minutes)
Pre-heat your oven to 180 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit

1. For the tomato sauce, cut the tomatoes in quarters, put them in a pan, put the pan on low heat to warm them, give them 4 minutes on the pan, sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves, freshly ground black pepper, then take the pan off the heat, transfer the tomatoes in a blender, add some water and puree them. When the puree is done heat the same pan on medium flame, add butter, then add the chopped garlic, give it a minute until it starts to get color, then add the tomato puree, add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, add salt to taste, then add the cumin powder, pink rock salt, red chili powder, give it 5-8 minutes in slow flame and its color will deepen. After that take the pan off the heat.

2. For the quick vegetable stock in a pressure cooker take 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, when the oil is moderately hot add Shahi Jeera, minced garlic, ginger n give them 30 seconds, then add all the veggies, green chili,  toss them, give them 2 minutes on low to medium flame, add the dry thyme, coriander stalks, give it 1minute, put the flame to high now n add the water, add a pinch of sugar and salt to taste, add the mixed herbs. Now close the pressure cooker and on a high flame give 2 whistles, then take it off the heat, when the pressure settles strain the liquid, this stock is now our base for the white sauce. Keep the vegetables; they will go in layers between the lasagne sheets.

3. For the white sauce in a pan melt the butter, then add the flour and keep stirring for 2 minutes on low flame, then add a little stock mix, well until there is no lump, then add some more, do the same, then some more. Keep stirring all the time when adding the stock, when the stock is all in the pan  put the heat to high n let it come to a simmer, when it is there reduce flame to medium and give it 5-7 minutes until it thickens, add salt, ground black pepper. When the sauce has thickened add the parmesan cheese and take it off the heat, mix n let it sit.

4. Now it is time to assemble the Lasagne. In a deep ovenproof dish of glass or metal, lay the first layer of the tomato sauce, scatter the vegetables over the sauce, then take 4 lasagna sheets and arrange them over the veggies until the dish is completely covered, then add a layer of white sauce over the sheets, then scatter the soft chena over the sheets here n there, grate some parmesan cheese over them around 1 tbsp. This is our 1st layer, now we will repeat this. So tomato sauce again over them, followed by veggies, lasagne sheets, white sauce, soft chena and Parmesan. 2nd layer done. Now do 1 more.

5. Put this into the middle shelf of the oven at 180 Celsius for about 35-45 minutes until the top is golden n bubbling. Then take it off the oven and give it 10 minutes to settle. Now you should be hungry with your knife to cut it into pieces and lift them up carefully on your plate.

So tell me doesn’t that taste so so nice? Now we understand why people have been eating this for centuries…..Bon Appetit.