amatuer watercolourist, foodie, cook, traveller, all rolled into one. simple yet fun recipes accompanied by watercolour sketches.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

fridgesaver #1 (noodles with stir-fried vegetables)

Both my wife and I work for ad agencies. And as is typical of ad agencies work comes in sporadic bursts. And boy, when work comes, does it really come? Lately we've been knocking off from work around nine, and that's on a good day. As a result we end up eating out a lot. But every now and then, we'll make an effort to knock up something quick and easy at home (partly driven by the guilt of all the lovely vegetables sitting in the refrigerator, and partly because I think of cooking, and sketching, as therapeutic.) As a rule I abhor any food that comes out of a pack. But some days the rules must go out the window.
Well, last night was one such night.

What to take:

Honestly, anything and everything in your refrigerator's vegetable section.
I used

1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced into inch long pieces
Green peas, half a cup
French beans, cut into inch long pieces
Baby spinach, chopped 2 cups
Vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon
Spring onions, 3 stalks chopped fine
1 pack Maggi noodles
2 tablespoons ketchup

How to make:

Parboil the carrot, peas and french beans.
Saute the onions, and add the parboiled vegetables and salt and stir fry until cooked.
Boil 1 and 1/2 cups of water (ignore the manufacturer's advice to add 2 and 1/4 cup. Also ignore the little 'chicken flavour' pack that they throw in. It's full of MSG.) and add the noodles to it.
Cook for two minutes.
Add the ketchup to the noddles and stir well.
When the noodles are semi-dry, toss them together with the vegetables.
Garnish with the spring onions and serve.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

stuffed aubergine

I found this recipe in Curries & Bugles – A Memoir & Cookbook of the British Raj by Jennifer Brennan. The book has over 200 recipes peppered with little illustrations, old photographs and short nostalgic notes that reflect a rare warmth and affection for the country where she was born and raised and her forefathers ruled.

I made the mistake of trying this recipe with really small aubergines. They're hell to stuff. Jennifer recommends the 5 inch long ones.

what to take

6 aubergines about 5 inches long
2 tablespoons ghee
1 small onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin) powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 inch fresh ginger finely chopped
2 sprigs of coriander leaves chopped
salt to taste

how to make

Parboil the aubergines for about 5 minutes. Cool and cut lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Reserve the skins.

In a pan, heat half the ghee over medium heat and fry the onions till golden brown. Add the spices and salt and fry for another 3 minutes.

Add the flesh of the aubergines and the coriander leaves and mix thoroughly. Remove the filling form the heat.

Fill the skins and tie the lids on with thread.

Heat the remaining ghee in a pan over moderate heat and fry the aubergines on all sides until they are slightly browned. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for 6 minutes.Serve with chapatis.

other tricks with aubergines

1. Baked aubergines from deepann

2. Sailu's stuffed aubergine curry.

3. And finally, baingan bharta from Rosie

Friday, January 19, 2007

alan watts on the perfect kitchen

There should be an ample central table of plain well-scrubbed wood which may be used both for eating and preparation; and at least in my ideal kitchen, strings of onion, sausages of hard salami, cheeses in wax or muslin, and basketed bottles of Spanish and Italian wine would hang from beams overhead. As no true lover of books would keep them hidden in cupboards, so the basic food supplies that need no refrigeration should not have their comforting presence concealed. Flour, sugar, salt, rice, and other grains should be kept in stoppered glass jars…Spices, canned goods, boxes, and bottles should adorn the walls on open shelves, covered only with sliding glass panels if protection from glass be necessary…. skillets and saucepans, together with such utensils as the pancake turner, cooking spoon and fork, strainers, skewers, and snail pans should dangle from well-ordered wall hooks and not be flung in drawers.

Allow no utensil in the kitchen that is not in some sense a work of art – not prettified stuff but exquisitely functional, such as the best wooden spoons from Italy, made from lemonwood, enameled casseroles from Sweden, Solingen kitchen knives, terra cotta bowls from Mexico, Revere ware or heavy copper saucepans from England, or a fine Chinese wok with its turner and spoon.

Alan Watts is to Zen Buddhism what Steve Jobs is to personal computers. He made it cool and accessible to the average man. Of the numerous books that he wrote, my favourites are 'This is it' and Does It Matter?'. The passages above are taken from the chapter 'Murder in the Kitchen' in the latter book. Alan Watts was said to have been an enthusiastic if not great cook and entertained the likes of Timothy Leary and D. T. Suzuki in his boathouse on Sausalito.

Monday, January 15, 2007

simple chicken curry

When I moved into the flat at Thimmiah Road, Bangalore, my cooking experience was zilch, zero. After having shared a room with three other guys at the YMCA in Chennai for three years, moving into one’s own apartment was like walking into heaven, with a gusty greeting to St. Peter.

And for the first time in my life, I found myself in a moderately large, sunny kitchen. I soon acquired the minimalist material trappings of a bachelor: a refrigerator, a pot, a pan, a knife, a chopping board, four plates, four spoons, and a few jars to keep the spices in.

This is probably the first meat dish I ever cooked. It’s that simple.

It serves two and takes 30 minutes to make.

What to take:

300 grams chicken thighs
2 onions (diced)
2 tomatoes (chopped as small as possible)
2 cloves garlic (chopped teeny weenie)
1 inch of ginger (ditto)
3 cloves
1 inch cinnamon stick
A sprig of curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of red chili powder
2 teaspoons of coriander powder
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1-cup water
Salt to taste
2 sprigs of coriander leaves

How to make: 

Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan.
Add the cloves and cinnamon stick.
After a minute, add the minced garlic and ginger.
Stir for a minute and add the onions.
Fry the onions till they turn golden brown, and then add the turmeric, chili and coriander powders. Stir well, till the raw smell of the spices disappears.
Add the tomatoes and salt and let it cook covered.
When the tomatoes are reduced to a thick paste, add the chicken, stir well, and let cook for ten minutes.
Add a cup of water and let cook uncovered for another ten minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with chapattis.

Other tricks with chicken:

1. A cool chicken curry recipe from Anthony's Kitchen

2. Arundhati's chicken curry for dummies.

3. Chicken curry with baby potatoes from Hooked on Heat

Friday, January 5, 2007

Kovakka (gherkin/ivy gourd?) stir fried

There is some debate as to whether kovakka are really gherkin (Kovakka is what they're called in Kerala. My wife's from Karnataka and she knows them as 'thondakkai'. Up north, they are called 'tindra'). Gherkin, according to the purists, is baby cucumber, and I'd be the first to agree that kovakka is not even remotely related to cucumber. To start with, they are a lot tastier. Secondly, they are more nutritious. But what's in a name? A kovakka by any other here's my mother's recipe for stir-fried kovakka.


100 grams kovakka (quartered lengthwise)
1 red onion (diced)
8 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup water


Par-boil the kovakka and onions with the chilli powder, turmeric power and salt in a small pan.*
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to crackle, add the par-boiled vegetables and stir fry until the kovakka turns crispy brown.

Serve with chappatis or rice and curds.

*Allow all the water to evaporate

Other tricks with Kovakka:

1. Also see Shyamala's neat tricks with the vegetable. She's probably right in calling them 'ivy gourds'.

2.Prema has an interesting take on the same.

3. Gini Ann has an awesome recipe too.
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