A time to cook

Down foodpath

I am a school teacher and a writer-poet by profession and one who dabbles in cooking a diverse variety of dishes of various cuisines. Being a single working woman with no cook for culinary assistance, I have to figure out on my own what to cook as the food items have various flavours, combinations and textures.

Due to the fact that I stay alone, there are bound to be once-in-a-way culinary "disasters", where the dish does not quite turn out as planned. In face of these few fiascos, I stand my ground by saying that I learn from my cooking mistakes and as cooks are aware, much practical cooking wisdom stems from having made mistakes and learning by trial and error.
For everyday routine life, I make simple meals before rushing off to work. However, it is during the holidays and special occasions that I try my hand at experimenting with exotic cuisines. I learnt cooking late in life since my mother, Leela Nawaz, insisted on cooking herself. It was only with her untimely demise in the year 2005 that I took up the cudgels of cooking different recipes with enthusiasm and gusto. I strongly believe that Indian women have an inborn and inbuilt drive to cook tasty traditional meals because it is essential for them to do so and is a dire necessity.

I became keenly interested in cooking when I started watching TV food shows, like Highway on my Plate, featuring the inimitable Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma, as well as Aditya Bal in Chak Le India.

I also liked Master Chef Australia, Cup Cake Wars and Chopped. I thoroughly enjoy the re-runs of food programmes by chefs like Tarla Dalal, Sanjeev Kapoor and lately, the Fabulous Baker Brothers, where I literally drooled at their amazing bakery products.

In fact, I was so enamoured by these cookery shows that three years ago, I sent an e-mail to Rocky and Mayur. Imagine my glee when they replied saying that they would want me to be part of their show when they would come to Hallimane in Malleswaram. During the shooting of this episode, I recited one of my poems on cooking and also participated in a food quiz compered by them. At this time, I was working as a teacher at BGS International Residential School and imagine my surprise when at school the next day, almost everyone – from the Principal to the office assistant – congratulated me! Ah, the reach of television!

My dish for this column would be Pasta Macaroni. I chose this dish because the ingredients are simple and the taste of the finished product is awesome. What I like most about this dish is that, like noodles, pizzas, and burgers, it has an ‘acquired taste’, where one takes time to get used to its delicious taste. Last year, on November 1, my best friend, Poovamma, was celebrating her birthday.

Since making several dishes would be arduous for her, we friends decided to arrange a potluck lunch for her. Each of us brought one of our speciality dishes, the rule being that it had to have what we called an ‘acquired taste’. Nee­dless to say, I brought the pasta macaroni, which was enjoyed and relished by every­­one. Indeed, the ultimate satisfaction of a cook is when her savouries are genuinely relished and appreciated. Poovamma, herself a good cook, can never forget my scrumptious Pasta macaroni that was made on her birthday!

Recipe
Pasta Macaroni

Ingredients

 Macaroni (200 gms)
Cooking oil
     (4 tablespoons)
Onion (40 gms)
 Garlic-ginger paste
(10 gms)
Chopped tomatoes
(300 gms)
Chopped capsicum
(200 gms)
 Pepper (4 gms)
Salt (6 gms)
Sugar, to taste
Grated cheese, to taste
Mint leaves, to taste

Method:

Boil the macaroni in sufficient water for 8-10 minutes.
Drain the hot water, pour cold water, drain and keep aside.
Heat 4 tablespoons of cooking oil, and add the finely chopped onions, garlic ginger paste and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes, chopped capsicum and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Then to this, add the cooked macaroni, salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add grated cheese, and garnish with mint leaves, and serve hot.
 

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