I started helping my mother in the kitchen when I was about 10 years old. I grew up in the Middle East where my mother was a nurse. My younger brother and sister would often spend time in the kitchen. What started off as entertainment in the kitchen soon turned into small chores and we started helping out our mother in cooking. This habit soon turned into a passion.
While my mother made traditional food from across the globe, I always took a simple recipe a step further to make it my own. The apartment complex that we grew up in had people of different ethnicities. We would often learn recipes from them and try it at home as well. That’s probably where I got the inspiration to make something new each time.
It was much later that I entered the world of blogging. I have tried almost everything that is related to the culinary world, including food photography and working in a professional kitchen. But I’m the type of person who cannot do one thing for a long time. I like to experiment with different things. While working in a professional kitchen has helped me learn a few skills, I find blogging and searching for new recipes a much more relaxed job to do.
I do have a full-time job and coming back home to the kitchen is my way of beating stress. My husband is also someone who loves to try out various cuisines. We never have the same dish twice at home. I also like to fuse different dishes together and make something unique out of it. My invention of ‘Gajar ka halwa cake’ was one such attempt. I am a huge fan of ‘gajar ka halwa’ and there is a place I know which makes ‘ghee cake’. I fused the two together and created this. It was absolutely delicious.
By creating these fusion dishes, I think I have forgotten the original recipes! Whenever I come across a traditional recipe, I immediately try to understand the dish and the alternate ways to prepare them. However, I am also the type of person who loves cooking something for everyone. My colleagues are always eagerly waiting for me to bring something for them. I try to make dishes that I think others would like.
To me, food is an expression and there are so many ways to present it. It is not just a stressbuster but also an intelligent activity. It requires me to be physically active and the final outcome is just undescribable. I was inspired to create the ‘Turkish Kofte’ recipe as I tasted this dish at one of the restaurants. I remember having something very similar when growing up and I just had to recreate it. It’s a simple dish that is perfect to take for lunch or when you have your friends over for a party. With the combination of some fresh vegetables and pita bread, this is a real prizewinner.
Teena Augustine Joseph
Ingredients n Chicken minced meat (lamb can be used instead), 300 gm n Onions, 2 n Chopped parsley, 3 tbsp n Mint leaves, 10 to 15 leaves n Chopped cilantro, 5 tbsp n Cumin powder, 1 tsp n Pepper powder, 1 tsp n Cayenne pepper, 1 tsp n Garam masala, a pinch (optional) n Lemon juice, 2 tsp n Salt, to taste n Oil, for frying
Method n Mix all the ingredients listed in a bowl. Wet your hands before you start to shape the kofte. n Shape the kofte into medium-sized balls or oval logs. Let them rest for an hour and a half in the refrigerator. n Marinating overnight infuses better flavours. n Heat oil in a pan after the resting time and fry the ‘koftas’ till they brown on all sides. Please maintain a low flame so that you don’t burn the koftes. n In order to cook them evenly, it is good to cook them on medium flame initially for two minutes and over low flame for the remaining 5 to 8 minutes. n If you plan to grill this on the barbecue or in your oven, cook them for the same time but baste some oil so that the koftes don’t go dry. n Serve with pitas, cucumbers, onion rings, pineapple chunks, tomatoes, parsley and some mint cilantro chutney.