Tuesday, 10 May 2016

A Letter to Papa


I am writing this because I realised I have never said this: thank you for making me the cook and foodie I am today. I know you've never taught me how to cook. But all that you've done apart from that has made me what  I am in the kitchen today. 

Do you remember the first time I turned on the stove to cook by myself? I still remember it clearly. I must have been 11 or 12 years old. You had just come back from your site and were very tired. There was no one at home and I simply wanted to make tea for you. I don't remember how the tea turned out. It was probably not good. But I will always remember the joy I got out of making that tea for you. That joy was my first lesson in how wonderful it feels to cook for the people you love and care for. 

When I was learning how to cook, you've eaten some really terrible meals. I have lost count of the undercooked, overcooked, burnt, under-salted, very salty, bland and spicy meals I have cooked as a child. Or what I thought were 'creative' meals but were just disastrous experiments in cooking (remember the matar paneer at home with gravy of thin ketchup thickened with cornflour paste?) Mom would give me 'feedback'. Bhavya would simply look for alternatives to eat. But you ate each one of these meals quietly and finished what was on your plate without a  word. I've never said it, but that always gave me the encouragement to bounce back after a bad day. And to go on to planning the next meal. 

You've also made me the foodie I am today. You have always been someone who'd go to restaurants and try something different than what others of the group were eating.  My willingness to try new dishes comes from looking up to you and wanting to be like you. There were hits (Thai red curry at Moni's when they first introduced it in early 2000s) or misses (that bland white pasta we ordered at VS) but you were always my eating partner in these new dishes. 

And Rohan always tells everyone about how wonderful it was that despite being a Gujju you introduced me to eating egg and chicken. Trust me, he will always be grateful to you for that. Because he couldn't have married me na if I was a vegetarian! 

So thanks pappa for always being there for my love of cooking.


Monday, 9 May 2016

7 Quick Fix Meals for Hot Summer Afternoons

Summers are here. When I was a child, I really liked summers. They meant ripe mangoes, vacations, free time, playing all day, visits to my cousins and relatives and so much more. That perspective has cooking meals in a hot kitchen added to it now, and well things have changed.

Cooking  in Trichy, or even Thane (now that I am back home for the summers) in the afternoons is a real task! Hot weathers and then you spend hours cooking  in front of the gas with no fan. Nope, can't do it everyday. So I went back to my old recipes and tried to find a solution to this.

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Guess what? There are recipes I can use to make nutritious and wholesome meals for the family and me without literally sweating it out in the kitchen! Our mothers, grandmothers and even their mothers have been cooking in this summer heat for ages, and as always they've found solutions. I have taken them in, and added some modern twists to it.

1. Mixed Vegetable Thalipeeth

You can find the recipe here.

Mixed Vegetable Thalipeeth Recipe
 If there are only one or two people for a meal at home, then this is a great recipe to make. It takes literally 5-7 mins to grate the veggies and prepare the dough. And then about 3-5 minutes to make each thalipeeth. Loaded with veggies, these thalipeeths make for a complete meal. Serve with some yoghurt, and green chutney (recipe here), or til chutney (recipe here) or even this garlicky coconut chutney (recipe here).

2. Gujarati Osaman and Chhuti Dal

You can find the recipe here.

Osaman-Chhutti Dal- Bhaath Recipe
A one-bowl complete meal with rice. 15 minutes for the pressure cooker to cook the rice and dal and 10 minutes to flavour the osaman. Chop up some vegetables for a salad when the osaman is cooking and you have a complete meal that is flavourful, light and filling.

3. Fettucine in Pesto Sauce

You can find the recipe here.
Fettucine in Pesto Sauce Recipe

Italian is always a great option for summer. Light meals that cook quickly and are so flavourful without much ado. This recipe takes about 30 minutes end to end. Add in this light tomato and mozzarrella salad (recipe here) and you have a quick and complete meal.

4. Chicken Burger

You can find the recipe here.

Chicken Burger Recipe

A soft bun slathered with a mustard-mayo spread with a juicy chicken patty and crunchy lettuce. This amazingly quick-cooing burger is a delight for both children and adults.This burger only takes 10-15 minutes on the gas and the rest of the time, you can have the fan on as you assemble it! Add some more nutrients with this spiced lettuce, cherry tomato and olive salad (recipe here).

5.  Prawns in Thai Red Curry

You can find the recipe here.

Prawns in Thai Red Curry Recipe

Quick-cooking and tasty, prawns are another one of my summer favourite. This elegant and delicate curry of prawns is deceptive because it is absolutely simple and quick to cook. Grind the curry paste in 5 minutes and cook the prawns in another 10. Pair it with steamed rice and you have a winner. Try it and you'll love it!

6. Falafel Rolls

You can find the recipe here.

Falafel Rolls Recipe

Rolls are a great summer cooking option because once you cook the main filling, you can always assemble them out of the hot kitchen. Make them with rotis, add some vegetables for the crunch and some healthy sauces and you have one whole meal wrapped up!

7. Spicy Thai Rice Noodle Salad Recipe

You can find the recipe here.

Spicy Thai Rice Noodle Salad Recipe
If you like light meals like I do for summers, then this is a perfect dish for you. A delicious balance of spicy, salty, sweet, pungent and sour, this salad makes for a complete meal. I like pairing it with some soothing jasmine green tea. You can pair it with some lemon iced tea too (recipe here).