It’s easy to find people who are passionate about cooking as they have an innate talent to whip up something amazing, but I’m not one of them. Growing up, I never liked cooking, even though there was an expectation from me to be a master when I got married.
And I have to thank my husband for being very patient with me and eating the almost uncooked or tasteless food that I prepared for nearly two years. I wasn’t even good at something as basic as boiling rice!
But after I became a mother, I wanted to take out that extra time to learn how to make certain things and give my children the healthier versions of their favourites. Usually, whenever we would head out, a stop at a bakery would be a must to devour some junk food. One of my major challenges was to prepare lunch boxes and keep them as interesting as possible. So I started reading things on various links I could find online and took inspiration from them. In order to keep it as creative and healthy as possible, I would use whole wheat or multi-grain flour for various purposes and bake the vegetable cutlets to create delicious burgers. With small experiments like these, I continue to try to entertain my children with the food they eat.
Though my interest in cooking and baking was more of a necessity, I am happy to say that it’s become a passion now.
My six and two-year-old daughters love whatever I prepare for them. The older one loves helping me in the kitchen — if I’m making cupcakes, she helps me with colour selections and decorations. While I make basics, like the batter, she gives me company with frosting; using her small piping bag she draws some caricatures or smiley faces. She is a messy helper but she’s happy that I give her the freedom to be one.
I’m someone who enjoys baking both savoury and sweet treats. Muffins usually have a savoury touch to them, but the cupcakes are sweet and rich with chocolate and cream.
My children love the cupcakes, though due to school regulations, they can’t be a part of the lunch menu. So when I’m packing their lunch, I try to keep it simple. I usually add some spinach and carrot to beetroot juice and use it in the cupcakes — this way, it’s attractive and they also eat the vegetables!
I’m proud that I’ve come a long way because there was a time when I didn’t even know how to set curd. My husband and I would plan to have curd rice the next day, so we would get the milk ready to set the curd. I would wake up the next morning only to find that it still looked the same! My husband took the time to give me the scientific explanation that the curd needs to be kept at a particular temperature — it took a couple of attempts to finally get it right.
But I felt a sense of accomplishment when I finally perfected the art of making ‘sambhar’. I would usually make it either too watery or thick or spicy. It took me two years to perfect it! And that gave me the motivation to try something further and I’m thrilled to say that I’m confident I won’t burn down the kitchen anymore.
The recipe that I’m sharing today is of ‘baked bati’ which is basically a baked vegetable cutlet. The base of the cutlet is whole wheat where I’ve used beetroot juice for the colour. The stuffing includes broccoli, cabbage, green peas, carrot and paneer.
I was inspired to learn this through a Facebook group where bakers were discussing different Valentine’s Day goodie ideas. There was a discussion on how the day is to impress someone else, so why not impress your own self first. This recipe is a healthy snack that will always please your heart. It’s perfect to have at home with a little sauce and cheese.
(As told to Anila Kurian)