Saturday, May 28, 2011

Basics first..

Before getting started on with any recipe its important to set up your personal cooking space and that need not be designer high built in kitchen even if you are living in a single room P.G, have a space start with the basic necessities to start on with and these are  THE MUST IMPORTANT LIST

  • Set of knives suiting your needs.
  • Induction stove or gas stove
  • Pots and pans
  • Pot exclusively to boil milk
  • Roasting pan  
  • Coconut grater
  • Coffee mug and glasses
  • Spoons (both table and teaspoon)
  • Filter
  • Scissor and blade (never use it for your other miscellaneous work)
  • Roller for making chapatti
  • Spatulas (steel and wood) different size as per personal need.
  • Steamer or pressure cooker.
  • Peeler/grater (for creative lovers and to experiment with)
  • Ice cream scoop.
  • Can opener (just in case).
  • Kitchen towel
  • Tongs.
  • Ladle.
  • Heat trivet
  • Mortar & pestle

Essential Ingredients
Just like the kitchen utilities you should have the basic ingredients or else you are finished. The list would be a combination would be MUST HAVE and OPTIONAL. The list i believe gives a general idea which can be customised according to ones need. Some of the below given are very obvious, but it’s always good to start somewhere. Once you have the following you are on the go.
  • Flour (rice and wheat as per need).
  • Sugar.
  • Coriander powder
  • Chilli powder.
  • Turmeric powder
  • Eggs.
  • Tamarind
  • Chick pea
  • Bengal gram
  • Green gram
  • Curd
  • Rice
  • Red chilli
  •  Mustard
  • Tea powder
  • Coffee powder
  • Rava (soochi)
  • Aval (Poha)
Spices, Herbs, and such 
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.
  • Onions.
  • Cumin seeds
  • Garlic.
  • Ginger.
  •  Basil
  • Ginger garlic paste (my fav to add flavour)
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Cloves, Coriander. (better to get a pack of mixed spices) until and otherwise you are sure of using particular spice in your receipe.
  • Chat masala (I’m not a fan of it)

Oils, vinegars, et al 
  • Olive oil. (Optional)
  • Vegetable oil or any refined oil.
  • Coconut oil (like a true mallu I prefer coconut oil for my cooking)
  • Toasted sesame oil. (Optional)
  • Balsamic vinegar. (Optional)
  • White vinegar.  
  • Soy Sauce.
  • Chilli sauce or any other sauce
  • Mayonnaise.(You can avoid it if you dislike for me salads are incomplete without them)
Apart from the above mentioned things I also have
A pack of dry fish (I’m not keen on any particular type) always. I refill it regularly.
Pack of Bread, pasta or noodle, macroni pack on days of emergency. 
Instant Appa powder, idiyappam (just give a try on your kind of food if u like them they’ll act as life saver at times)

Storage and Organization
It’s easy to go shopping and get started but storage and organization is the art of it...

Have an air tight glass or plastic container for bulk items like rice, sugar, flour. Your vegetables dry goods can either be stored in a basket or for an aesthetic feel wooden box .Buy Coffee and tea in glass jars so that those jars can be reused for storing other goods.
Again oil, vineager come in their own bottles use them.

Spices, herbs
Make use of single container with apartments so that it’s easy to acess.

STORE ALL YOUR PANTRY STUFFS IN A NEAT CLEAN AREA  so that they are away from air born disturbances.
This is the most important part and mind you it’s not greek or latin . Always keep your kitchen neat and clean for a feel good factor and a healthy living. I would rather do with all my dishes the day before rather than waking up to find stinking dishes in my sink.
I use
 1)liquid detergent for general clean-up; 2)soft scrub (I use scotch brite)  normal jobs and Hard scrub (I don’t know the material its used in but looks like spring of stainless less) for heavy duty job  3)Lime when i’m dealing with fish or meat both in sink and for hands.

BEST THING IS CLEAN UP AS YOU TO IT. This would avoid large heap at the end of the game. Also have mini first aid kit at your reach cos you don’t want to keep researching the search for it when you are in need for it. Its quite natural to get burned or get cut while you are cooking.

Going for the game
Make a rough plan in your mind so that when you go for it things fall in place. And experience is the wonder drive for cooking and no recipe book will teach you that. The colour, aroma, feel, texture all can be mastered only in due course of period. There are chances that many a times you’ll end up burning your dishes than getting it cooked or the taste going completely wrong. Cooking is an art and it will take some time to master unless you are a born cook. Excuse yourself for the mistake and compliment when things go good. Improvise on the recipe according to your need and taste. Respect your taste buds no matter what and avoid things that you don’t like no matter how internationally acclaimed that might be, after all you’re the boss in your kitchen.
The Basics
  • The daily cooking would be based on the availability of things. Always buy different vegetables combo or you’ll get bored.
    1. When going for an elaborate menu (it’s not at all difficult will tell u in the later posts), first step is to mentally prepare. Consider the need of the hour like if you are cooking for yourself go for the time you have at your disposal, things that you have and above all your hunger quotient (if you are in a mood to swallow a turkey, then there’s no point going for an elaborate menu).
  • Now, the more things you plan in your menu, there more time and more elaborate things have to be done and etc. Go for different ingredients in your menu so that you add your personal touch. If you are having your friends come over then the menu could be decided as per the taste of your friend for an intimate tint.
  • After you have started on you can even go for a “theme”. With India being a hub for great cuisine one can pick and experiment on any number of delicacy. It’s not necessary that one has to work on with a standard theme like soup for starters, then Hyderabad biriyani for main course with some veggie side dish and then dessert. But there are certain things that go well together and some that don’t like lime tea goes well with biriyani and coffee doesn’t, but on second thoughts....... mmmmmm well don’t even think about it.
Keeping it smooth
To flatter people you can even go for a candle light dinner (who said that’s only meant for your bf/ gf ) with scented candles and some music wowie won’t you feel special if one of your friend treats you that way???mmmm think about it.
Setting the table is not a Himalayan task. Just stick with few basics and you would rock, if you have a guest.
    1. Plate obviously in the middle. On the left, first and closest, the large fork, then the smaller fork. On the right the knife (blade always pointed in to the plate), then the soup spoon if you're having soup. If not, still keep it handy.
    2. When in doubt, place the utensils from outside in, as you would use them during the meal.
    3. Since most people are right-handed, put the glasses just to the upper right of the plate. If you know your guest is left-handed, put it to the left. "...and it’s a HIT deep to center field!!"
    4. Napkins can also be placed and pamper on further.
    5. Go for chop sticks if the person knows how to use it.
  • One last important thought to preparing a meal. Timing. Most of the Indian main course food is good when they hot (not steaming hot or end up burning your tongue). Salads mixed just before serving would taste better unless it needs to be set or needs to be refrigerated.
  • While preparing pay attention to the number people you are serving. Be economical than wasting food at the end of it.
I guess that’s enough for the starters tip and now it’s time to get set go and BINGO hit on strike one. Keep tasting as you are preparing and make up for the salt and chilli then and there. Trust your instinct and taste when you are cooking

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mummy the best

My mother is the world's best cook..She keeps telling cooking is  an art and is not about about the correct recipie and one has to put in one's soul nd heart into it and if not nothing tastes delicious.She believes  cooking reflects one's thought and any recipie has to be improvised to one's taste buds.Its like a therapy she believes ,and  no wonder everything she makes is a wonder at its own be it traditional or anything new...She also says never spent more time in kitchen plan what to do and manage accodingly always keep in mind whats in  refrigerator and the shopping basket and plan to everydays mood..Like dress she says even cooking and taste are on mood..It was a strict no to added preservatives...above all serve the food with love no matter what..away from home i miss evrybit of her taste but her spirits keep me going..Never have been a single day when she was tired of cooking or a time when she didnt cook be it flu or anything under sun.Even on her busiest day when she had meetings to attend to she woke up early made sure every single dish was prepared and only then left for work...MY MOTHER IS THE BEST cook i hav ever u mom...
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