Hello readers! How are you? I’ve been really having a great time, enjoying this lovely weather and doting over my family. Above all, I have been having a fabulous time cooking! Here are some yum chocolate brownies that I baked!
Here ‘s a vanilla sponge cake…
There is no dearth of reasons why I love cooking. Cooking a meal is one of the most personal and intimate things you can do for your loved ones. It is like sharing a part of myself with those who I most care for in this world – my friends and family. I love the kitchen and everything about it – its smells, sounds and sights. I love when people love my cooking, when they want to learn recipes from me and when they brighten up when they taste my food. In fact here are a few things about me that you may not know, which say about my love for cooking…
- As a young mom, any time my children came home and praised any of their friends’ tiffin boxes, I made sure I asked them to check the recipe with the friend, who in turn checked it with her or his mother, and then I made sure that I made the same dish, but in an even better way and taste!
- Even now, till date, if any girl in my extended family gets married, she comes to spend a few days with me to learn dishes that she can cook to make inroads into the hearts of her husband and his family. The way to somebody’s heart is through the stomach, remember?
- If I am in the house, then it is pretty sure that I would be asked to cook something or the other. In fact while on most days I love it, because of my love for food, on other days when I am looking to relax this reputation of being an excellent cook can actually be bad 🙂
- One of the things I love about cooking is that it’s creative – I’m mixing flavors, colors, things that go well together on a plate. I like to try new combinations each time and better the ones that worked the last time. I like to think outside the box and not restrict the dishes to what the books say.
- I am an eternal learner. When my children were young, I tried to make new dishes for them every day even though it was the time of no internet and when the only way to learn recipes was by asking friends of family who you hardly met anyway. I did this by trying to read new magazines or experimenting on my current dishes.
I feel you can never stop learning. Though I have been cooking for more than forty years, though I have hosted more than fifty thousand people at my home for different festivals and gatherings, though everybody swears by my cooking, I still feel like a learner. I still have this urge to go deeper into this entire art and science of cooking. Art because it is beautiful, aesthetic and has this never-ending creative element to it and science because at the end of the day it is about ingredients coming together at the right temperatures, in the right quantity and for the right amount of time to create that dish that may look deceptively simple but is actually layered with complexity and extreme strong in its conception and depth.
Here are some other recent dishes that I made…
And in my desire to learn, I have a dream. The dream is not only to eat or to learn how to cook, but to ‘perfect’ the special ‘signature dishes’ from all regions of my wonderful country! Indian cuisine encompasses a wide variety of regional and traditional cuisines native to India. Indian cuisine encompasses a wide variety of regional cuisines influenced by religious and cultural choices. It uses the whole palette of flavors, whether be spicy, sour, sweet, or hot. Each region has its own style of cooking and unique cuisine, and I want to perfect the special dishes from each region, or at least to start of, these are the dishes that, in my wild dreams, I wish to perfect:
- From the vibrant state of Haryana, comes Bajra Khichdi. This is a porridge made of coarsely crushed pearl millet and is eaten with pure ghee (clarified butter). I make a very good version of this, or so my friends tell me, but I want to go to some village in Haryana and learn the most authentic recipe from a local grandmother!
- From the enterprising state of Gujarat, I love the Dhokla and the Khandvi. A yummy savory snack made from gram flour and yoghurt, tempered with sesame, mustard seeds and flavored with green chillies, sprinkled coconut and coriander, this is a show stealer. These days you get ready-to-eat mixes which can create these flavors instantly, but again I want to understand the technique behind creating them in the most authentic way, from scratch.
- Next I want to perfect, from Bihar, the signature classic, Litti Chokha. This quintessial Bihari dish is known by one and all. It is a delicious crunchy dish that consists of Litti (wheat balls stuffed with Pitthi, which is bascically roasted and spiced gram flour) and Chokha (char-grilled brinjals or mashed potatoes). Again, I feel there is no better way to learn the perfect technique other than from a local expert, a cook with decades of experience or a local aunty who know the secret magic!
- But if you ask me, if I have to pick that one dish that I want to perfect, over all the others, and for which I am willing to give up the search for all other recipes? Without blinking or thinking twice, I will tell you that the one dish which I have been dreaming about cooking, ever since I first heard about it, and first tasted it at a restaurant in Delhi, is from that place in India where the fun never stops, the party never ends and the sun never sets. Yes, I am talking of Goa! And the dish, yes you guessed it correctly, is Bebinca. This is an exquisite pudding dessert, which makes not only Goans but everyone go weak in their knees. The traditional Bebinca is made of 16 layers and is served warm with cold ice cream. I really really really want to go to Goa and learn the delicate art of dishing up the best Bebinca from the best expert! I cannot wait for that day to arrive when I will achieve this dream!
You know I suddenly realize that there is no dream world like the world of food – what can inspire better dreams than the creative wonders of the culinary world? Our dreams and passions are what make life exhilarating for us, making us feel happy, fulfilled and ALIVE… and for me food and cooking and the kitchen make me alive like nothing else! Writing this post has been such a wonderful experience, because it has reaffirmed my love for food and cooking all over again, to the extent that I know that on the day my dream for learning the perfect Bebinca recipe will come true, a new dream will blaze in my heart to learn some other dishes, cuisines and foods! And just thinking of this makes me smile! 🙂