Spaghetti Bolognese

Another one of our favourite comfort foods is Spaghetti Bolognese. I love the meaty, intoxicating herbs and the heady aroma of wine that rushes to the senses when I open the lid of the bubbling bolognese pot.. and these flavours and aromas feel equally intense on the taste buds.

Spaghetti Bolognese is perfect for a cold winter’s dinner or even a December lunch.. we last tried this for Christmas lunch, along with a glass of red wine, beneath the mini Christmas tree (this year we went for an all white theme with the decorations, making us pine for a White Christmas experience soon)

This is not your traditional Spaghetti Bolognese, mind you! I add a desi twist to it, I love the flavours of ginger and garlic and our Indian pallettes do crave for some flavour especially when it comes to red meat. It definitely doesnt taste like a curry so dont worry, you wont be disappointed. Gourmet Shourmet is certainly not about giving a desi twist to international cuisine.. no curry leaves in my pasta!

  • 200 gms spaghetti
  • 400 gms mutton mince (you can also use chicken mince or even soya granules to go veg)
  • 250 gms tomato puree (I make mine fast n easy at home, by blanching about 5 ripe tomatoes, skinning them, de-seeding and then giving them a whiz in the grinder. I dont recommend using packaged tomato puree, I find the flavour too pungent and sour for my liking. Instant headache & migraine trigger for me. Probably from the preserving vinegar added to it. What you can try is any of the bottled tomato pasta/ pizza sauces. Soul foods has a nice tomato basil sauce which is tops for Spag Bolo.)
  • 1/2 tbsp paste of ginger-garlic-green chilly-coriander (called vaatan in the marathi community, we always have some stored in the fridge)
  • 2 tbsps of mixed dried herbs – oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsps worcester sauce substitute with 1 tsp dark soy
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 pods of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 cube of maggi chicken cube
  • olive oil
  • Cheese – dry hard cheese like parmesan, grana padano, parmagiano reggiano

To start with, wash the mutton mince in potable water, and drain completely. Add 1/2 tsp salt, a dash of pepper, the vaatan paste and about 1/2 tbsp of the dried herbs to the mince. Mix in well and leave to marinate for a couple of hours.

About 1.5 hours before you intend to eat, get started on the sauce. Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a deep pan and to this add the chopped onions, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the onions, so that they begin to sweat and cook in the moisture. Half way through, add the chopped garlic. Keep stirring the onions till they are pink and translucent. Do not brown them. You may want to maintain a low to medium flame for this.

Now turn the heat on high and add the marinated mutton mince, we want to brown this nicely, so stir rapidly, breaking all the big lumps which form. Keep stirring and browning for about 4 to 5 mins. Once all the mutton mince seems to have browned, add the worcester sauce and the red wine. On a medium heat, bring this to a quick boil, then cover the pot and lower the heat. In about 5 mins the red wine would have been absorbed by the meat and this is where the meaty, winey aroma comes from. I strongly believe spag bolo is not the same without wine – red or port.

Add the tomato sauce, dried herbs, chilli powder, salt n pepper to the mince. Heat on a medium flame till the sauce is boiling. Then turn down the heat, cover and cook for about 40 mins. Since we are using mutton mince, it would take around 35 to 45 mins for the meat to cook. Chicken and soya granules would take much lesser – 15 to 20 mins should do it.

Halfway through,check the sauce, if it feels thick and heavy, add some water to give it a good runny consistency. We will need sufficient sauce to cover all the spaghetti later. Taste the mutton too, it should have a soft meaty texture and not be rubbery when you chew it.

At this point, get started on the spaghetti too. Heat water in a deep cooking pot, to this add a swig of olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1 maggi chicken cube. This really adds flavour to the spaghetti and marries well with the sauce later. Once the water is boiling rapidly add the spaghetti to the pot. The water will simmer a little bit but begin to boil again. When it gets boiling turn down the heat to a low-medium. Set a timer for about 10 mins.

Come back to check on the pasta in 10 mins, if you feel it needs more time, turn the heat up a little bit and give it another 2 to 4 mins. Do not overcook, we have to stop short of it resembling instant noodles. Drain the water, but retain about half a cup. This starchy flavourful water works well in case the sauce is too thick upon adding the pasta. Run the pasta in room temperature drinking water to stop the cooking process. Drain off the water well and add the pasta to the by now ready sauce. Stir in completely. If you feel the sauce is too scarce or thick to cover all the pasta, add bit by bit of the drained pasta water till you have the right consistency. You can do this when the sauce is on a low flame so that the pasta doesnt get cold. But dont leave it to cook.

Serve immediately after mixing. Grate a generous amount of cheese on top – dont worry if you dont have the fancy ones, Amul cheese works just as fine. Dont forget the glass of red wine.. perfect with Spaghetti Bolognese.

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