The gnocchi girl

The potato dumpling dish my daughter taught me to make


Kiddo at the counter learning to make gnocchi. Photographs: Seema Chowdhry/Mint
Kiddo at the counter learning to make gnocchi. Photographs: Seema Chowdhry/Mint

Until the last fortnight, Kiddo did not even know what gnocchi was, and in the last week, she had corrected my pronunciation of this dish three times and has already wowed us by making the dish twice at home.

It all happened on Saturday, bang in the middle of Kiddo’s exams, when the pressure to study was getting to both of us. I had an invitation to attend a cooking class being organised by Zomato, a global restaurant search site and app, at Le Cirque, The Leela Palace, Delhi. Visiting chef Carrie Nahabedian, who is the winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Chef, Great Lakes” was going to conduct a cooking class and we decided to cock a snook at Hindi -- Kiddo’s next paper -- and head out for it.

At the class, parents were asked to sit back and the young chefs were taken up ahead at the counter to learn the art of making gnocchi.

My experience with this dish is limited -- I am not one who wants to eat potato dumplings when I am treating myself to Italian food -- so the idea of learning how to make gnocchi did not excite me at all. My 11-year-old, however, was happy to be escorted to the cooking bench. She rolled, indented and cut the gnocchi dough and then even brought a cooked portion for me to sample. It tasted good, but I was not sure that Kiddo could replicate it at home.

Grated potato with flour and egg to make the gnocchi dough
Grated potato with flour and egg to make the gnocchi dough
I must have said that aloud at some point because she decided we would have gnocchi for dinner that night. No amount of coaxing or scolding would get her back to hitting the books until I promised to make sure all the ingredients were procured for the gnocchis.

That night, for the first time, my daughter taught me to cook. She told me how much flour to measure, how to peel hot potatoes, how many eggs to use, how to roll the dough, and dip the dumplings in boiling water. She also put together the basil and tomato sauce with which we ate our gnocchi.

And just for that, gnocchi will be dish I will never forget in my life.

Gnocchi in tomato and basil sauce

Ingredients

4 large potatoes, boiled

1 cup refined flour (keep an extra 1/2 cup aside)

1 egg

4 large tomatoes, diced

4-5 basil leaves

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)

4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Gnocchi in tomato and basil sauce
Gnocchi in tomato and basil sauce

Method:

On a clean table, peel the boiled potatoes while hot and then grate them. Fill up a large pot with water and let it come to a boil. Pile the grated potatoes on the table and add the flour and salt. Then, using your hands, scoop out the center of the potato and flour mound. Drop the egg into this centre and combine the ingredients. In case you need more flour, add from the extra half-cup but be careful not to over-knead. Be wary of adding too much flour, else the dough will be hard. Cut the dough into 4-5 pieces, about 4 inches long. Next, roll each piece into a long pipe and then cut into 1-inch pieces. Dust some flour on them and then with a fork, indent each piece. Now, put these pieces in the boiling water and wait for them to float up to the top. Take them out using a large sieve. Pour 1 tbsp olive oil in a flat tray and place the gnocchi on it.

Once the cooked gnocchi is out, heat the rest of the olive oil in a flat pan, and put in the diced tomatoes. Add salt, pepper and chilli flakes and cook for about 4-5 minutes till the tomatoes soften and then add the basil leaves. Stir the mix, put in the gnocchi pieces and mix well. Put on a serving tray, top with grated Parmesan and serve hot.

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