May Photo A Day : Day 26 : Fave Thing To Do On Sunday…

When you have a husband whose passion for cooking and eating good food runs very high, who loves to explore new dishes and enjoys eating them with equal gusto…… the best thing you can do is to leave the kitchen in his able hands. No, it is certainly not possible on all days. No, it is not because he has work to do. But that’s because, my kitchen and my maids would not be able to handle the daily aftermath of a hurricane hit kitchen.

The kitchen is all his on Sundays. Right from breakfast to lunch or sometimes brunch and then dinner… he decides the menu and cooks too.

As for me, I either assist him by handing him the pots and pans, ingredients or books or simply sit and enjoy television or play games on laptop or read. Yes, I am lucky that way.

I get respite from thinking about the most irksome and perennial question, “What should I cook?” and also remain stress-free, for the food that is served is not under scanner. For a passionate chef like KG the food has to awesome and amazing, delicious and delectable ALL the time!

So, my fave thing to do on Sunday is to give the reins of the kitchen to KG and sit back and enjoy the dishes he dishes out…

This is clicked on one Sunday of 2011…

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This post is a part of May Photo A Day.

May Photo A Day : Day 11: Smile

Year 2011, Father’s Day…Aaryan wanted to give his father a surprise, a breakfast by him, for him, which he truly loves… a Half Fry! And the father was truly surprised and more than surprised, he was beaming with pride, to see his son share the same passion for cooking.

Here’s a creative, sweet, lovely, awesome, simply cool breakfast from the Junior Chef for the Senior Chef, with a bit of help from the mother who is just a cook

The layout design is courtesy the lil’ Chef.

No points for guessing, it was not only the plate that had a smile, but there were smiles all around in the family too 🙂

This post is a part of May Photo A Day.

May Day A Photo : Day 9 : A Snack

It was December of 2010.We had a late night party one Friday.

The after effect of that was I woke up at 8 am with a start, the next day, as it suddenly dawned that it was the Parent Teacher Meet at the Aaryan’s school.

Got ready in a jiffy and then woke the kid and pestered him to get ready too. In the meanwhile, lined up the work for the maids and a glass of milk for the kid and by 8.45 am, the kid and I were out of the home.

Fortunately we were very early at the school, so could meet the teacher and discuss/share all the queries and progress at length.

After finishing the meeting at school, as soon as I sat in the car in peace, my tummy gave a big loud growl. It was its way of telling that I had not even had my ‘bed’ tea and was starving!

Immediately, I called up hubby who was enjoying the highlights of some very old cricket match at home and told him to prepare something to eat for us. Now, these are the perks of having a partner who is passionate about cooking, who can create magic in the kitchen at a moment’s notice, any time. Of course, you need to excuse the mess that’s created along with the magic!

When we reached home, the first sight that hit my eyes was the beautifully laid plates for us on the dining table.

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This is the Double Decker 3C Sandwich Pakora!

It is innovated by hubby!

And here’s the secret recipe for that…

Ingredients:
For Batter
· Gram Flour (Besan) : 1 cup
· Aniseed (Ajwain) : 1/2 tsp
· Cumin Seeds (Jeera) : 1/2 tsp
· Fennel Seeds (Saunf) : 1/2 tsp
· Turmeric Powder : 1/4th tsp
· Red Chilli Powder to taste
· Salt to taste
· Water

For Filling
· Cheese Spread : 3 Tbsp
· Chive (onion) : 1 finely chopped
· Chilli (green) : 2 finely chopped.

Other Ingredients
· Bread : 6 slices cut into triangles
· Oil for frying

Preparation

  1. Mix all the ingredients of the batter to form a batter of thick consistency.
  2. Whisk all the 3 Cs of the filling too.
  3. Apply a layer of the filling in between the 2 bread slices.
  4. Heat oil in a pan.
  5. Dip bread sandwich in the batter and fry till crisp on medium flame.
  6. Serve the Double Decker 3C Sandwich Pakora hot with green chutney or tomato sauce.

No points for guessing, the Double Decker 3C Sandwich Pakora tasted YUM which we gobbled up in minutes!

When The Husband Cooks…

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When the master of the home has a passion for cooking, this is what happens…

    1. Gourmet Meal : Yes, this is what is being cooked all the time, when he is in the kitchen! Trying out newer recipes with new ingredients is the order of the day. Even a simple dal would be cooked differently and would be served with a wonderful presentation. ‘You first eat with your eyes’, that’s his mantra. Right from starters to main course, veg and non-veg, and even the desserts, are cooked with élan and ease!
    2. The Compliments: You bask in the glory of the compliments from everyone. The most common ones being, “Ah! You are so lucky!”, “I am jealous of you”, “You have to share this recipe with me”…Needless to say that these come from the women friends.
    3. Then the Censure Followed by Suggestions: Once they are done with oohing and aahing at the look and taste of the food, the women turn to their husbands, “Seekho, kuchh tum bhi, KG se”, (Learn something from KG!). Unlike women who would be ‘inspired’ if they learn that a friend is going for that aerobic class, the men simply smile and move to get another helping or say, “So, what are you cooking next?” They have no aspirations to even learn how to boil water!  And then they come up with suggestions like “You must open a restaurant or start a dhabha!” Why don’t you go for Master Chef contest!!
    4. No Worry, No Tension : While many husbands have to check with their wives in case they decide to have friends over for lunch or dinner. But at our place having friends for lunch or dinner even without any notice is NEVER a problem. Reason, the husband cooks and he can cook with passion even after a hard day at work. Cooking is therapeutic for him and he loves having friends at our place. Do I have any reason to complain?!
    5. “Your Wish is My Command” : The child says, he wants to have chicken and chicken shall be cooked even if the meal is ready. You think out aloud, “Feel like having something sweet”, off he goes into the kitchen to make a shahi tukda or the halwa or the sewanyiaan in a jiffy. It does not stop here… I had to go out for a few hours for some work and KG took the responsibility of cooking. Nothing new here… the newness was he made a chicken dish, which the child likes, a mutton dish which he loves and a vegetable which I relish… 3 dishes for the 3 of us!! How would a woman react on seeing this??

  • Katrina, Sandy, Olga… in the Kitchen: Ok, while the magic is created with food and spices in the cooking vessel, rest of the kitchen looks like it has been hit by Katrina and her friends, I mean the hurricane and not what you thought. The spice jars would be lying all around the place and never at their original shelf and some would lie at precarious places and most of the times spill ‘themselves’ too, the kitchen sink (which is pretty large) would be overflowing with vessels, the floor would have its share of food too, all the kitchen napkins would be used and would have stains that would not vanish even with Vanish!….
  • Take a Deep Breath?? This sight of the kitchen can leave any cleanliness freak woman teeth gritting hair tugging raving mad. You think, I am exaggerating… You have to read this to believe this. A month ago, I was out of home for 3 days for my workshops. When I returned back, the maid who cleans the dishes told me that she had scolded the cook in my absence. She said she asked the cook in not a pleasant tone, “Why did you take leave when Madam is not at home? Sir cooked the food and what a mess he had created in the kitchen… it took me 2 hours to clean the kitchen!” Know what I mean, now?!
  • Zen is the Way… And after doing this for a long time, that is sharpening of the teeth and self inflicted alopecia, you realize that doing the above is not the solution. Like everything else in life, you learn after a while…. you learn to Let Go and find solace in the words of Emma Goldman. She said, the motto should not be : forgive one another; rather, understand one another! So, you understand, why the husband can’t cook in small vessels, why he can’t keep the jars at their place, why he can’t cook small quantities…. and when you understand that peace enters your mind and body and you learn to smile even at the sight of a hurricane hit kitchen.
  • What is on Our Mind… All the Time?: When you are out for shopping, what is it that you eye the most… clothes, footwear, books, home decor items…. Nah! that’s not us! What we  shop with glee is spices and ingredients, pots and pans, cookery books and CDs …   so much so that a few months ago, while I was returning back from a workshop with the team and we spotted a small outlet in a village near Nanital. We enterd the shop and found to our utter amazement that this shop sold goods to Fab India. The team went crazy shopping for kurtis and tops which were at throwaway prices when compared to Fab India. I love shopping clothes from Fab India, so this was a god sent opportunity to shop what I loved at such unbelievable prices!  And guess what I shopped… Spices and herbs for the husband!
  • Excellence is a Habit… Since the husband is a fine chef, every dish that you cook has to be great all the times and this can be quite daunting at times. He is quick to point out if the turmeric is too much or the dish should not have had powdered coriander or the tomatoes should have been pureed and not cut into small pieces or the onions should be sautéed till they were light pink and not light brown… During times like these I envy the women who say that their husbands eat everything that is served to them and would not complain even if the food is a bit bland!

 

What is your take… love or hate… when the husband cooks??

The New Oil in Our Kitchen

KG, my best half has a passion for cooking. He creates amazing magic in the kitchen, never mind the mess he creates though. His free time is spent either in kitchen cooking something or watching the cookery shows. Rice Bran Oil is frequently used by international cookery show chefs. This was something that has still not made its entry in our kitchen.When I read about the‘Fortune Rice Bran Health’ review at Blogadda. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to experiment with it in our kitchen and see how it turns out to be.Last Sunday, KG prepared Fried Pork Frankfurters and Prawns for breakfast.

In a pan, add a tiny drizzle of Fortune Rice Bran Oil.
DSC_0750Add the pork sausages cut into small pieces along with chopped garlic and cook, turning every minute or two, until nice and brown on all sides
DSC_0753Add some dried sage and parsley and toss it for a few more minutes. Take them out of the pan.
DSC_0758Add a few prawns to the oil and stir fry them for a few minutes.
DSC_0764Serve them with mustard or chilli sauce.
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In the evening, KG also made, Chicken Curry with Rice Bran Oil which looked like this…
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I have used Rice Bran Oil in cooking vegetables and even made paranthas with it. We use Fortune Refined Soyabean Oil for our regular cooking. And KG uses Ghee or Mustard Oil for the non-veg cooking. After cooking food with Fortune Rice Bran Oil, there was not any noticeable difference in taste and smell when compared with our regular oil. In fact, KG who is very particular about the tastes and flavours and is quick to note any difference, said that food cooked in Rice Bran Oil tastes no different than our regular oil. It has no virtually no smell.

Also the health benefits associated with Rice Bran Oil, chiefly in decreasing cholesterol, protecting from heart diseases, cleaning blood vessels, enhancing immune system and nervous system and it being good for skin, are convincing enough to switch from our regular oil to Rice Bran Oil.

Cost wise also it is similar to our regular oil. Soybean Oil costs Rs 110 for a litre while Rice Bran Oil costs Rs 115 per litre.

So for cooking for frying, Fortune Rice Bran Oil is the new oil in our kitchen.

‘I am reviewing healthy heart oil as a part of the BlogAdda’s Product Review Program for Indian Bloggers.’

Ten on Tuesday – 25

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Ten Things about My Idiosyncrasy for Tea
Wikipedia describes idiosyncrasy as an unusual feature of a person. It also means an odd habit. The term is often used to express eccentricity or peculiarity. People around me believe that I am very fussy about my tea. While commenting on a post by Destination Infinity, the idea of this blog post took shape and form. So here we go with my idiosyncrasy for tea!
  1. I am a tea person. When I say, that I am a tea person, it does not mean that I like drinking tea all the time or I can have tea anytime and anywhere. Of course, I love my tea, but in my own special style and process.clip_image001
  2. While I don’t mind at all (in fact love) somebody cooking food for me, tea is something that I like to make myself. Even, if somebody volunteers to do the honours of making the tea for me, I firmly decline the offer. The tea that I make tastes exactly the same almost all the times (sometimes the quality of milk changes the taste), as I follow my self designed tea ceremony religiously. I add all the ingredients as per the specific measured proportions. Also they are added after a certain interval of time or temperature to give that perfect cup of taste.
  3. I drink only 2 cups mugs of tea… one in the morning and one in the evening. Sometimes when I am at home, after finishing my work, I do indulge myself with another mug. When I am out of home at somebody’s place, and it’s time for the evening mug, either the tea is made as per my instructions or is made by me or missed altogether so that I can rush back home and have my tea in my own way and mug! Having a bad tasting tea is not my cup of tea!
  4. There are so many varieties and flavours of tea. But my all time favourites are Brook Bond Red Label and Wagh Bakri!!
  5. I like masala tea only. So, with the variations in the seasons, my masalas for the tea changes too. Masala for the tea includes anything from ginger, tulsi, mint, cardamom to black pepper, cloves, fennel, cinnamon sticks, I also sometimes use the readymade tea masala that’s available in the market.
  6. I like having tea in my large mugs and these are some of the mugs that I use frequently. My current favourite is the last one in green.
  7. I do not like separate tea that is served in star hotels, CCDs etc. When I am travelling for workshops, the hotels serve tea with tea bags, I prefer going without tea and take a cup of coffee instead. Since I am a cleanliness freak, I never have tea from the roadside thadis or trains, railway stations, bus depots … Though I am told that some of these road side tea shops make amazing tea!
  8. I like my tea sweet and milky. Milk, I have realised is a big factor in making a nice cup of tea. Since we use Amul pasteurized milk. I have found that using the whole milk (Amul Gold)makes the tea very heavy and using the toned milk (Amul Taaza) does not taste that good. So, I use milk which has half proportion of Amul Gold and half of Amul Taaza. Tea made from the freshly boiled milk tastes the bestest and that from the a day old milk is not all that great.
  9. And now that the winters are setting in, I do enjoy Kashmiri Kahwa after meals.
  10. I like to have my tea in total peace. During this time, I like to sit with either my book/newspaper or laptop. I hate interruptions by means of phone calls or ringing of the door bell etc. Tea time is my time, which I cherish and love completely. I associate my mug of tea with relaxation and rejuvenation. Gladstone said, “If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you” and I agree completely with him!

Are you a Tea Person or a Coffee Person??
Image Courtesy : Google Images

Monday’s Microwave Magic : Aam Ka Paana

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Starting today, will be sharing my experiences with Microwave Cooking. It will have tips and tricks and recipes, simplified for creating that Magic with Microwave!
It’s the Mango season and it’s so very hot too. Aam ka Paana, made from raw mangoes, is a cool refreshing drink to beat the heat.
Ingredients

  • Raw mangoes : 4-6
  • Sugar : 1.5 cups
  • Roasted cumin powder : 2 tsp
  • Rock Salt : 1 tsp
  • Water : 3 cups
  • Mint leaves : 1/2 cup

Method

  • Peel the raw mangoes and chop them in small pieces. Put these in a microwave safe bowl with 3 cups of water at 100% power for 5-7 minutes.Aam ka Paana
  • Add sugar, salt, roasted cumin powder to the above and microwave covered at 80% power for 8-10 minutes.
  • Let this mixture be cooled for a while.
  • In a blender, blend it along with mint leaves and make it a puree.
  • Filter it and store it in bottles and refrigerate.
  • Add 1/4 part of Aam ka Paana to 3/4 glass of cold water.

Enjoy the cool refreshing drink.
PS : You can make your Aam ka Paana sweet or salty as per your personal preference, so likewise adjust the quantity of sugar and salt!
Image Courtesy : Google Images

Ten on Tuesday : 21

Inspired by Bikram’s suggestion in the last post, I thought of sharing some 10 tips and tricks, some quick recipes you can cook in your Microwave.

1. Boil Potatoes/Peas : Just wash 3-4 medium sized potatoes or a cup of shelled peas in a microwave safe bowl with lid and keep it on 100% Micro Power for 2 minutes! Try it, the potatoes and peas will be as soft as the way they’d turn out when boiled in a pressure cooker! And just look at the time involved!!

2. Stuffed Bhindi (Okra/Lady Fingers) : Slit the washed lady fingers and stuff them with any filling of your choice. In a microwave safe bowl, add a 1 tsp of oil and place the stuffed vegetable neatly, sprinkle a few drops of water on it. Cover it with a lid and use 100% Micro Power for 3-5 minutes!!

3. Carrot Halwa : In a microwave safe bowl, add the grated carrots (5-6) and 2 tbsp of ghee. Use 100% Micro Power for 4-5 minutes. Add whole dried milk (Mawa) and sugar and again keep it on 100% Micro Power for 4-5 minutes. Yes in 10 minutes, the carrot halwa is ready to eat!!

4. Kadhi Pakora : My favorite dish for Microwave cooking. In a microwave safe bowl, add oil, microwave for 2 minutes at 100% power. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves, fennel and let them crackle for a minute. Add ginger-green chilli paste along with salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Microwave for 3 minutes at 100% Power. Beat curd, water, gram flour to make a smooth paste. Add this to the spicy masala. Stir. Microwave for 10-12 minutes at 100% Micro Power. Add Pakoras (made on the gas, coz deep frying is not feasible in a microwave!) to the Kadhi and Microwave covered at 80% Power for 5-6 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander.

5. Bread Rolls : Make the masala with boiled potatoes, chopped onions, green chillies, ginger, green coriander and spices. Take bread slices, soak them in water, squeeze the extra water, fill in the aloo masala and shape them in cylindrical rolls. Brush the rolls with oil and grill on the greased non-stick tawa/ microwave safe flat dish at high rack for 18-20 minutes. Turn in between for uniform browning from all sides. Imagine a healthy bread roll which is not deep fried!!

6. Dry Methi/Mint : If you want to store methi (Fenugreek leaves) and mint and use the dried version later. On the glass turn table of the microwave, keep the washed methi /mint leaves. Microwave at 100% Power for 5-6 minutes. Let it stand on the glass turn table in the microwave for 5 minutes. When cool, crush/powder it and store it in air-tight container. Use dried methi in any vegetable or parathas and mint for curd in any season!

7. Crisp Moistened Namkeen/Snacks/Biscuits : Namkeens/Snacks/Biscuits/chips/Wafers/Cookies, when left outside for long or during the rainy season lose their crispiness and freshness. In order to make them as fresh and crisp as before, place these snacks on a paper napkin on the turn table and Microwave at 100% Power for 1-2 minutes. Allow it to stand for 3-5 minutes. All these snacks would be crunchier and crisp!

8. Pappad : Take a pappad and cut into 2-4 pieces. Place the 2-4 pieces in the different folds of a paper napkin. Microwave for 1-2 minutes at 100% Power. Crispy, crunchy and a pappad which is equally roasted from all sides is right in front of you!!

9. White Sauce : Microwave butter in a microwave safe bowl at 100% for 30-50 Seconds. Add flour (Maida) and mix it. Microwave at 100% Power for 2 minutes and stir in between. Add milk, stir to prevent lumps. Microwave again at 100% Power for 3-5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper as per taste!

10. Baked Vegetables in White Sauce : Another favorite at our home. Wash and chop all vegetables ( peas, cauliflower, french beans, carrots, capsicum). In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter at 100% Power for 50 seconds. Add the vegetables and some water. Microwave for 8-10 minutes at 100% Power till they turn tender. Add white sauce (recipe given above), sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste and Microwave (covered) at 100% Power for 3-5 minutes. Preheat the Microwave oven at 250 Degree C at Convection mode. Sprinkle grated cheese and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes.

Believe me, Microwave Cooking is far simpler, easier and convenient than the traditional Indian cooking. It cooks fast, cooks healthy as less oil/ghee is used  and also all the nutrients are retained during microwave cooking!

So, explore the real uses of your microwave and of course continue to warm up your cooked food!

Happy Microwave Cooking!

Times Haven’t Changed…

Microwave!! A gadget which is now an integral part of almost all kitchens. By all, I mean our friends, neighbours, acquaintances etc!

I remember, some 15 years ago, very few people had microwaves. Whosoever had it then would keep this gadget in the dining room, covered with napkins/mats etc. It was rarely used and if at all it was used, it was used just to warm the cooked food or the sweet-dishes!

In 1999, we had gone to a colleagues’s home for dinner. She had cooked almost everything in the microwave. And I had seen the starters being grilled and a few things roasted too.
That was the first household, where I had seen a microwave being used in that fashion.

When we bought our microwave, we made it a point to cook everything in it. Thanks to the cookbook that we got with our microwave, we started trying out the dishes given in it and followed the instructions religiously. The results were amazing. And today, I don’t have to refer the cook book for microwave cooking, in fact I make even those dishes in this appliance which are not mentioned in my cookery book. It’s all based on the experience of using this gadget.  The food cooks faster, is healthy and less oily/oil free and what a convenience.

So, right from white sauce, aam ka paana, creamy vegetable dip, bread rolls, all vegetables (aloo matar / paneer / brinjals / cauliflower / cabbage / mushrooms etc) I even cook kadhi and rajasthani gatte in my microwave. Have even baked cakes and make rice kheer frequently too.

A few days ago, a lady who runs cookery classes in our neighborhood did a free microwave cooking workshop in our apartment complex. Some 30 ladies attended this workshop, including me. A surprising observation came up… all these women had a microwave in their kitchens, but except me, all of them used it for warming the cooked food or milk for the kids! And the best was, a lady was not sure whether she had a microwave or an OTG at her home!! 😐 And this is despite the fact that almost all the brands of microwaves offer free demo classes and come with complete starter kits with recipe booklets and utensils etc!

I feel, times haven’t changed as far as microwave cooking is concerned. Microwave cooking is so very easy and saves so much of cooking time! Why are we saying no to this ease and convenience in the kitchen!?

The Day Today!

A post a day can be challenging when you are not feeling too well. Though had planned to write a 55 Fiction, but…
A dust storm last evening, which was followed by the much needed rains, triggered an allergic reaction.So, it started with runny nose, last evening and progressed to fever which only I can feel, body ache and general malaise! An anti-allergic in the morning ensured that I slept the whole day through!

A visit to the doctor in the evening and a dose later, I am ok, but not all that great!

KG is busy in the kitchen since evening. First it was soup and then Khichdi for me.
While we has made Prawn curry for himself!

This man has some passion for cooking!

After a  busy day at work, he can still find the enthusiasm to cook. In fact, he finds cooking very therapeutic. He believes that it takes his mind off other things and the various aromas wafting through the air delights him and the most important thing is that sense of achievement of creating magic with food and spices. And of course all this along with the appreciation leads to immense satisfaction!!

And now Chris Gayle is battering the poor Pune Warriors bowlers!
And in between the breaks, we are also watching Aakrosh on Zee Cinema. Sameera Reddy is dancing on an item song and it’s not over as yet and we have moved to Samantha Brown’s Great Weekends on TLC. The remote you know is with whom and yes, this is how we watch TV! Grrr…
Oops, we are back to the IPL, Gayle is out and we have moved back to Aakrosh…

Have a great evening and see you tomorrow!

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