Friday, 27 July 2012

My encounter with North Indian Food ~~~

I always loved food. But due to various disturbances during my growing up years, I stopped cooking. I wasn’t interested to know more about food and I lost my curiosity that spawned during my childhood years. I stayed away from cooking as much as I could. What I did not discover (until later) that that cooking or that inquisitiveness about food could help me recover from a very dull and extremely difficult life.
After graduating from High School, I went to college. Life was easy until me and my roommate moved to an apartment where we had to do our own cooking. I knew very few things to cook and she couldn’t cook at all.

We started eating the same things day after day. Either we would eat outside or same Dal Chawal (Lentils and Rice) at home. Finally, we got some time off from college and we decided to visit our hometowns.
After that holiday, everything changed. 
My roomie had learnt cooking from her mother and gave me a detailed idea on how to make different lentils and beans. We started using that technique and Voila! We had various dishes. 

I was ushered into an unknown world of North Indian food where there was a humongous variety of dishes using almost the same spices and vegetables/meat. 

I started cooking north Indian dishes like Kali Daal (Dal Makhani- A preparation of Black Lentils), Dal Tadka, Aloo Gobi Tamatar (Cauliflower and Potatoes in Tomato Gravy), Butter Chicken (Chicken cooked in creamy tomato gravy) and many more though they were more of a experiment then real cooking. I worked my way into knowing my spices when I started cooking these things and only after I knew the flavor and aroma, I could juggle them and try them in my dishes making them better with time.

I couldn’t stop myself from staying in the kitchen, exploring various things that even in my most dull moments brought me some happiness. I loved being in the kitchen because it makes me happy. Everyday I would try to cook something new. I think the best recipe during those years (2005,2006 and half of 2007) was Chole (Chick peas or Garbanzo Beans). I used dried beans that was soaked over night and I used a medley of spices to make amazing chole. The base was tomato and onions that I fried in a flavorless oil. I still cook it and it reminds me of those amazing experiment years.

It gives immense pleasure when someone compliments about the food that you cook. I would say that the years I spent away from my family were very fruitful in terms of learning to cook varieties of food.

If it not had been for my roomate, I would still be oblivious to the beautiful and mesmerizing world of north Indian food. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

My Accidental Sandwich !!

Grade 5.. There were about three sections for grade five. I was in section B and my section had all da show off girls. They used to buy expensively stupid things to bring to the class. Ashamed to admit but I too followed the lead of those brainless brats. It was almost like a quiet competition (that was churning into a cold war) going on between the girls of 5th grade. They showed off everything - school bags, water bottles, pencils, pens, erasers and even food.

One day I too felt the need to flaunt my packed lunch (which was generally done by my mother). I decided that I should take something different, something that was not commonly packed by mothers 10-15years back.. I settled for a chicken sandwich. I cooked the whole recipe in my mind and guided my mother to do exactly the same. She sauteed the chicken pieces in a little butter, onions, green chillies and added salt and pepper to it, topped it off with water and brought it to a gentle simmer. After about half an hour, she strained the chicken. My mother, then, laboriously, De-boned the  chicken pieces and put the onions and chicken in the grinder.
Once she ground it to a proper spreadable consistency ( to aid the grinding she used soft butter and ketchup), she lightly toasted the bread and sandwiched the mixture between two breads.
I, proudly, took my uncommon and exclusive lunch to school. I was very tempted to open my lunch box after reaching school but did not do so because I knew I wouldn't wait for lunch period if I saw the sandwiches then. (moreover, i had my breakfast just before leaving for school). I waited for classes to begin and after four long hours, lunch time arrived.
Purposely, I went to share my lunch with the class show offs. I sat with them, did my convent lunch prayers and opened the box. I couldn't help but devour the look on their faces when they saw the sandwiches. I divided one sandwich between three girls and they ate it with quizzical looks on their faces. I answered their unasked questions by mentioning that my mother made it and also added that it was my idea. 
I knew I put up quite a show for the maliciously flaunting brats and since that day on, they never really competed for lunch boxes with me. (though i couldn't help much in the other fields, i still won the thing i loved most out of the competing given  choices).

Monday, 2 January 2012

Food :)

Its quite surprising how I started loving something that was already present in my day to day life. I love food so much now that I like to experiment in the kitchen with different ingredients. Belonging to a tropical paradise, I saw a lot of ingredients that was not available in the rest of the world and that went unnoticed until just recently.

Year - 1997, age - 10. It was a Sunday, I must point out that it was a boring one. It was about lunch time and I went into the kitchen. The maid already prepared an array of Assamese dishes for lunch and yet I wasn't very happy with her selection. I decided to try and make a sabzi with pointed gourd (parwal) and yogurt. At first, I was very confused because pointed gourd in my house was always eaten with a lot of spices mixed in it or just fried with potatoes in it. The idea of using yogurt was initially laughed at by my maid. I dismissed her laughter and got to work. I made a parwal yogurt curry that was a little more salty than I would want but it did not taste bad though it might not have tasted like million dollar food.
At that moment, I realized I could COOK !!!!!!!!!!!!
I ventured into the food world further as I grew up......
My experiments in the kitchen never ended after that.
15 years after my first encounter in the kitchen, I still love to cook and I still am very much in love with food.