Culinary experiments by a ‘non-cook’!

Mostly anyone who knows me, does realise that cooking is rather an ‘event’ for me than a ‘chore’. So much so, that during the early years of my job, when one barely earns enough to feed in to the rentals of the skyscrapers and groceries, I had dared to employ a ‘cook’! As a result, I was saving nothing, was mocked by friends, lectured by family, but all in vain.

Let me share something interesting with you today. Do you recall the picturesque scene of Karan Johar’s ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ where Shah Rukh Khan enters the screen? Well, don’t worry if you can’t. What am I here for, after all 🙂

The royal black swanky helicopter gargles its way through the crisp blue skies reaching the plush greens, amongst which emerges the ‘Raichand’ mansion. Celebrations are in full swing inside the palace cum humble abode. The diamonds encrusted ‘mother’ lights up the traditional lamp that is placed on the giant silver thali. As she progresses to apply sandalwood tilak on the foreheads of the ‘queued with discipline’ family, her intuition jostles her. She knows that ‘he’ is about to come! Outside the house, the tar dipped black shiny shoes crawl out of the helicopter and land on the gravel of the mansion. This is where you and I typically, skip a heartbeat. It is none other than Mr. Shahrukh Khan…

I recall that my family had clearly advised me against whistling in the theatre but here’s where I had to breach that instruction, stand up and whistle with full strength in my lungs till my brother pulled my arm and quietly asked me to sit before my father throws us out. I took his advice, by the way. Anyways, so back to the scene. The private helicopter elevates from the ground and is half in the air when the cinematography reaches its pinnacle with SRK galloping (all in black) with his dangling bag (again, black) towards the mansion. His mother, who has sensed his arrival diverts her steps towards the entrance door, with tearful eyes, but of course.

She marches past the underpaid dancing divas who are oblivious to the ‘sixth sense’ of the mother or to the event, so it seems. Close up on the door; the white swaying curtains. The hush hush prevails in the background when the mother thinks that she might be mistaken as she has not yet seen the face of her son. Just when she turns to go back, she senses it yet again. And there appears our ‘black beauty’. Its like a ‘give me those dimples and I can rule the world’ look. The mother’s eyes glisten more than ever, now. SRK slants his head and acknowledges the sixth sense of the lady. “You knew it, didn’t you!” She applies sandalwood tilak on his forehead and welcomes him in the house cum humble abode cum ‘give me a break’ kind of a mansion. For those who haven’t yet seen the flick, click here to see what I mean.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, why did I recreate that visual for you? So here’s my point. That’s the kind of ‘welcome’ I expect every time I enter the kitchen to cook something. Alright, you may have a glass of water now. And I will wait while you do that.

Since the very kind hearted women in my family are aware of this, they keep sharing recipes that are quick and easy to prepare and at the same time are pure genius when it comes to ‘taste’. For this Valentine’s day, I have picked three very healthy and yummy recipes; mind you, tried and tested. Without fail, they will get you the desired accolades. Quite amazingly, whatever little time you will spend to prepare them will be truly worth it!

So here’s your chance to woo away your mom, dad, wifey, hubby, bro, sis and of course that special friend with your limited but fabulous culinary skills!

Recipe 1: The all ‘P’ soupa! The final product of this recipe has ‘love’ written all over it. It is thick, warm, yummy to the core and the best part is that I excelled it. And trust me, if I can make it, anyone can! So let’s get started; Ingredients: Pumpkin (1 bowl), Peas (1 cup), Onion (1 large), Garlic, Olive Oil, Water, Salt and Pepper. Yup, thats pretty much it! Process: heat a pan (preferable a cooker) and add in some olive oil. As the oil heats up, throw in some crushed garlic, well, the more the merrier. Experience the karmic fragrances that will rise from the vessel. As the garlic sizzles (before it gets too brown) add in the coarsely chopped onion. Toss it! By now you will start to feel like a real chef. Just as they get a bit translucent, put in the chopped pumpkin and whole peas. Add in salt and pepper, to taste. Add about one full glass of water and close the lid of the pan. Let it boil. If its a cooker, two whistles would be sufficient. Make sure the cooker whistles, not you. And once that is done, let the mixture cool off a bit. Then use a blender and mash it up. Do not strain it. Keep it a bit thick. You may garnish it with roasted peanuts or some parsley of you want. Thats it! This is my mom’s recipe and a ‘true winner’ in every sense of it.

Recipe 2: Cheese stuffed mushrooms. After I share this recipe, you must promise to try it, because when you do, you will surely thank me a million times, just like I thanked, Anupama, my sis-in-law for sharing this culinary secret. The recipe is a quintessential ‘protein shot’ that is sure to establish you as a ‘masterchef’. I am sharing a video that I referred to, while perfecting the art. Click here to watch. Special Tip: While serving, use a rustic wooden or stone tray. Drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil over the finished product to make sure it looks just as good as it tastes. And yeah, few twigs of chives or basil thrown around the mushrooms will literally make it a cover picture of a ‘fashion’ magazine.

Recipe 3: Quinoa meal bowl. This, I call as the ‘love bowl’. It is health and love thrown in together, with a myriad range of colours, for you to relish with your partner. And one can totally expect this recipe to come from none other that my sis-in-law, Divi. It is a visual delight, a healthy meal and above all, your romantic indulgence that comes sans guilt. It has three parts- hummus, salad and of course, quinoa. Salad- spring mix, rocket leaves, olive oil, ranch or any salad dressing, balsamic vinaigrette (very important) and pumpkin/sunflower seeds. Dried cranberry and croutons are optional. Quinoa- boil 1 cup quinoa with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 2 cups of water. Add salt to taste. You can also add sautéed vegetables (bell peppers, onions, broccoli) in olive oil and minced garlic. Top it with 2 spoons of hummus and sprinkle parmesan cheese for the extra oomph. Relish with your loved one!

Hope you would enjoy making these, as much as I did. Happy experimenting 🙂

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