I love Couchsurfing. I host, I travel, I have been doing it alone and with my family and children. I do it when I am working for a low-budget movie, I do it when I am longing for a holiday, I do it for exchange. I have been given keys, city tours, beds and couches. I gave time, love, dedication and cooking recipes.
Never an extended family showed such overwhelming hospitality like we encountered in Guwahati. It was hard to keep track with names, this many people took care of us. Oona, my wonderful host, introduced me to each single one of them and made us feel at home. We had time to recover from exhausting travel, we have been shown some really lovely spots in the not very touristic place Guwahati (Peacock Island, Fish Market before 8am and Farmer’s Market where the villagers sell own produce – fresh yoghurt packed in banana leaves…yumm…) and:
We cooked together! Oona and her mother made a countless number of amazing Assamese dishes for us, did share some of their secrets and recipes and I made Spätzle – a German speciality mostly related to pasta probably – for them. It’s worth checking the link and reading more about Spätzle – or simply…
…join our cooking pots:
Various Assamese Potato Dishes, Smoked Pork with Bamboo-Shoot and Spätzle
For this dinner for a medium sized family, you prepare a little bit of many different (Indian and German) dishes, and serve them together all at once. Make sure you chat a lot in the kitchen whilst doing it…it’ll be delicious, you’ll see.
Fry some black cumin seeds in cooking oil, slit 1/2 green chilli and add to the cumin. Add small blocks of potato and fry until done.
- Aloo Pitika (mashed potato)
Mash boiled potatoes. I like them boiled in their skin, they’ll be than less watery. Peel and mash. Make sure you use floury potatoes. Add than for Aloo Pitika fresh coriander leaves, 1/2 chopped green chilli, 1/2 raw chopped onion (in German cuisine you would probably fry it, but believe me, the Assamese version with raw onion was simply delicious!) and, to make it true Assamese: a little bit of mustard oil.
Pitika can be made as well with roasted aubergine (eggplant) or – very yummy – with boiled egg and potato. I like to finely grate the hard-boiled eggs before mixing with the potatoes, but finely chopped might be nicer for people who still like to bite on something.
- Tiny Aloo (my little red note-book says: Allo Sahadshi – which might be Assamese or Hindi or none of those…on the Net I found Aloo Bhaji as well as Aloo Sabzi – which both contains some sounds from the word I noted originally … hm … better handwriting to donate to me anyone?? … suggestions of Indian readers on the real name for this dish most welcome!!)
As the (wrong…) recipe title suggests, you fist need to find really tiny potatoes. A good idea of how large is tiny you get on this image. Wash them thoroughly, and fry them in cooking oil with turmeric, chopped onion and cut spring onion. I use scissors to cut spring onion. – Oh, stir-fry till the potatoes are ready.
- Smoked Pork with Bamboo Shoot (North-Eastern dish)
You’ll need to fry in cooking oil smoked pork in larger slices or smaller blocks (ad libitum), ginger and garlic (I found many people in North-East India mash ginger and garlic with mortar and pestle, you can grate it finely or chop it as well). After a bit, your nose will tell you when (there’ll be the most amazing smell), add tomatoes and salt (I use tin-tomatoes, un-chopped, fresh ones in big chunks work as well). Salt, dry chilli as well as fresh chilli and a bit of water – since I learned this dish should have a very juicy consistence (we’ll need the sauce to go with the Spätzle)
- Spätzle (calling it type of egg noodle of soft texture found in the cuisine of Germany and of Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Alsace and South Tyrol is actually an insult to the Spätzle – there is even an own homepage dedicated to it here.)
Cheap, easy, simple and fast to make and – very tasty. My part of the party.
For about one large hand full of wheat flour (I open my hand and kind of scoop the wheat, which makes a very large hand full) I use one egg. Do not try to use full grain flour, rye or spelt…the consistence will be not as buttery, smooth and tasty in the end…
I think in my family we use fewer eggs than most recipes indicate, our Spaetzle therefore are with a bit more bit to it, slightly harder and less fluffy…maybe like pasta with or without eggs??
Anyway. My family does add water to the wheat and the flour. Slowly, whilst beating the dough with a whisk, you add more and more water…till…and now we come to the slime:
Till the dough is shiny and the consistence is like the one of slime, the kids toy….remember?? Mattel, in the 70ies…
Sorry I really can not think of any other thing to describe it right! It’s easy when you are in the kitchen with me and you’d never think of slime, of course…
Must be tough, but soft, flowing, but not trickling. When you lift it up with your whisk, it should slowly and steadily splotch-blob down, sticking still on the whisk whilst hanging already almost on the ground of the bowl again.
Understood?? – Let the dough sit now for 5-10 minutes. – Boil salt water.
For four persons, I take two large hand fulls of flour and two eggs.
If you feel you got to much water, simply add flour.
I usually start out with far too much flour and only one egg…the dough does not get really shiny than…later during whisking I than add a second egg… you can not really do anything wrong: more eggs, simply fluffier and softer Spätzle, lovely for sucking up sauce from your plate – fewer eggs, more of an al-dente feel and better to fry after.
Ok. Almost done (so much talking for such a simple dish…)
People from different regions get Spätzle in different ways cooked. some use a colander with large holes, some trust even in a grater…my family, however, exercises the very traditional board-chopping method:
You take a large soup spoon and put some of your dough on to an equally large chopping board. Make sure it is a normal, simple one, none of those with fancy-pansy boards people like Jamie Oliver are selling, to fat to lift for long or with a little furrow running all around it…nonono…Good board to be seen here – bad board here.
Take a chopping knife, at least as large as your soup spoon and your chopping board. Hold the board with the dough over the pan with boiling salt water. Chop the dough off the edge of the board in to the hot water. After each chop, make sure you dip the knife with the new-born spaetzle in to the water. That way nothing will stick or cling on your knife. Keep chopping until your first lump of dough is finished. You can chop from a line of dough as wide as your hand large chunks (this is what I do), you can make a thin, sausage like dough line and chop almost square or round chunks (in Swabia they call those smaller ones Knöpfle, meaning small buttons). If you use a colander, your result will look similar like the spaetzle you can buy in Germany dried like pasta in a shop.
Chop all your dough in to the boiling water.
When the spaetzle swim on top, take them out with a slotted spoon like a skimmer.
You can serve them like this, or – the way I love it: fried with butter and croutons. My Grandmother served them with home-made preserved poached pears, it’s super delicious fried with onion and cheese or, simply use it as a side dish to have with our yummy juicy Assamese food, like we did.
Other posts from our India Travel Diary are:
I use Trains when travelling in India
Happy Holi – Spring in India
Running from Holi we took Rescue in Haridwar
Half Indian Doors and Memories in little red Note Books
Guwahati, Assam, North-East India.
Assamese Cuisine, German Spätzle And What’s Slime Got To Do With It
Tea Gardens And Kaziranga
Lovely People and Empty Ministries: Kohima
Twice a Day a Bus at the End of the Known World: Khonoma
Last Stop Paradise: Meghalaya, India
Another Travel Diary of mine takes you to Israel and Palestine in 2012. You can start reading it here.