Tweaking the kitchen ball | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 19, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 19, 2017

Tweaking the kitchen ball

D-Day has arrived and you did not even realise it. As your child moves to a new country — a new world— the deepest fear engulfs your mind, “Can s/he make it on his/her own? Did I raise him/her strong enough to lead a life on their own?” The frantic calls at 3 AM do little to lessen the anxiety. You know the child is homesick even before they say: Hello!
 
But things change; for the better. Times pass by and the little munchkin of yours learns to stand tall. The calls do not end however (you are always 'on call' like a hospital ER) they just take up new forms. 
 
No mother ever forgets to tuck in a copy of 'Ranna Khaddo O Pushti' -- it is immaterial how tech savvy the child is. Buzzfeed and YouTube may just be a click away but that does not make Kabir's classic irrelevant. When it comes to 'deshi' cooking — that's the undisputed textbook for all cooks, chefs and enthusiasts. 
 
But our palates have changed. No one wants a dull and unappetising meal after a long day at college or work. And the very thought of having to cook an elaborate 'deshi' dish seems like burden too heavy to bear. 
 
And in comes mum to the rescue. In all possibility, the mother too had never set foot in her father's house and only took up cooking after moving in with her husband. Hubby dear as the Guinea Pig, experiments continued till recipes are perfected and as the years passed by, that 'kitchen shy' girl turned into a master chef. 
 
So the brief calls continue; time no bar! Nitty-gritties soon turned to trivial questions; the tweaking continues and one fine day, in comes a tweet — a shot of home-cooked kachchi!
 
FRIED RICE
In a small bowl, beat one egg with water. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add egg and leave flat for 1 to 2 minutes like in omelettes. Remove from pan and cut the omelette into shreds.
 
Heat oil in the same pan; add onion and sauté until soft. Now add chicken (again leftover ones; if you do not have leftover chicken, then just chop a breast and put the chicken pieces into the pan). Add soy sauce, pepper and then rice (leftover rice from the night before is the best option). Stir fry together for about 5 minutes, then stir in the egg. Serve hot.
 
ALL PURPOSE CHICKEN
Boil two chicken breasts in garlic and ginger paste, salt, two spoons of oyster sauce, a little bit of oil in half a cup of water. Boil it till it soaks in all the water then store it for a sandwich, use it in fried rice, as taco stuffing, or you can grill it later for 4 minutes on each side and have it with sautéed vegetable.
 
CHICKEN TEHARI 'MUMMY STYLE'
When you cook chicken 'deshi' style with masala and potato, take two to three spoons of that chicken, add oil in your rice cooker and put the chicken in the pot, add 1 cup rice grains, stir it for a while, add 2 cups of water and put it to cook in the rice cooker. 
 
Once done, you have a quick tehari sort of thing. Have it with achar or chutney or lemon wedges or any kind of relish.
 
CHICKEN, CHORIZO AND RICE
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season 2 chicken tenderloins, 2 drumsticks, and 2 breasts with salt and pepper, garlic and ginger paste, and soya sauce; massage it for a few minutes with your hands. Cook the chicken, skin-side down, for 5 minutes; turn and cook for 4 more minutes on low heat. Remove chicken to a plate.
 
Add onion and chorizo sausage 6 to 7 (Note: you can keep the sausage whole or chop it) to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in rice (3 or 4 cups), add chicken broth (buy broth from stores) 6 or 8 cups depending on how much rice you took, remember the ratio is 1 cup rice per 2 cups of water or broth. 
 
Arrange the chicken, skin-side up, on top of rice mixture. Cook for 20 minutes or until it looks cooked. If you do not have access to an oven, you can just cook it on the stove until the water is all soaked and rice is boiled and chicken is tender. You can add peas if you want to.
 
To serve, garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.
 
CHICKEN SOFT TACOS
In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and chicken; cook for 3 minutes. Add cabbage, carrot, peas, chilli powder, and salt — stir to combine. Add sour cream and reduce heat to medium; cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender and cream has reduced.
 
Heat the tortillas according to package directions. Serve chicken mixture wrapped in tortillas with tomato salad on the side.
 
EGG HALWA — MUMMY STYLE 
Take 4 eggs, two cups sugar and one cup milk, blend it until it all looks mixed. Put butter in a pan and stir it, keep stirring it hard until it all cuddles up and water has evaporated. It's a quick dessert you can have with roti. Stirring might be hard but you have to keep at it. It takes a maximum of 7 to 10 minutes.
 
SWEET SOY CHICKEN WITH NOODLES
Boil noodles in medium heat, add a pinch of salt and two drops of oil to the water so that the noodles does not stick. Drain it from the water and keep aside.
 
Place wok on heat, add 2 teaspoon of oil in the wok. Add crushed or chopped garlic, thick slices of onions, one slit chilli and stir until sautéed and fragrant. Next, add the chicken pieces cook until almost done, add your choice of a veg like spinach leaves, bok choy or mushrooms, add soy sauce and oyster sauce, stir and add noodles. This should be yum!
 
CURRIED CHICKEN AND COCONUT STIR FRY
For this recipe, buy chicken stock and coconut milk (note: although coconut milk is optional, it adds great flavour to the curry; it is also readily available.)
 
Heat oil in a wok and add two sliced onions, a clove of garlic and ginger and chop two teaspoon of meat masala. Stir until sautéed. Put in chopped tomatoes and the chicken. Stir them until tender on low heat, add half a cup of chicken stock and ¼ cup of coconut milk. If you do not want to use stock or coconut milk, add a cup of water, stir fry until cooked through. 
Have it with rice or naan that can also be bought from the super stores.


VEGETABLE STIR FRY

Heat oil in a wok. Add two onions (slices), a clove of garlic and ginger (chopped), and stir until flavour is released. Now add vegetables like snow peas, cauliflower, bok choy, bean sprouts, capsicum mushroom, or zucchini. Any combination of vegetables you have or like will work fine. Stir fry until done and have with rice. 

STEAMED FISH

Any type of fish will work for this recipe and you can increase or decrease the recipe quantity as needed. Take any mild flavoured, flaky fish fillets. Try halibut, cod, salmon, red snapper, trout, etc. Serve with white rice but first, flavour the rice with butter and salt.

Marinate the fillets with salt, lemon juice, pepper, garlic and ginger slices, slit green chillies and 2 teaspoons of oil, and 1 spoon of soy sauce or oyster sauce or both. Kindly note, both oyster sauce and soy sauce have a bit of salt in them, so adjust your salt accordingly. 

For a slightly hot flavour, you can add a spoon or less of chilli powder. Dill or coriander herbs, few stems of bok choy would be great here too. 

Steam it in a steamer, if you do not have access to a steamer use a large pot fill it with water and wrap the fish fillet in foil and place it on a plate and steam it by placing the lid of the pot on top. 

PASTA MUMMY STYLE

For the meat sauce:

In a pot, put oil, salt, chopped garlic and onions, a few slit chillies and the mince-meat (preferably chicken mince because it cooks fast) and stir. When the juices from the meat are released, add two spoons of oyster sauce, a spoon of soy sauce and 1 or 2 cups of tomato puree, according to your taste, and cook.

In a separate pan, boil the pasta, add a pinch of salt and a few drops of oil to the water so that the pasta doesn't stick together. Drain the pasta when thoroughly boiled, add a cup or two of the drained pasta water to the meat sauce and stir. 

When you think the meat sauce looks and tastes good, add cheese and herbs. Then serve it over the hot pasta or you can mix the two in a pan. If you store the meat sauce in a container, you can have it on top of rotis or naans or breads as breakfast. Even rice. 

BEEF/CHICKEN STEAK

For the marinade, add 2 spoons of garlic ginger paste, 1 spoon of chilli powder, oyster sauce and soy 1 spoon each, salt, oil and pepper. Mix everything together and marinate the steak for at least an hour. Next, place it on a hot grill till done. If you have any leftover, cut it into pieces, stir fry with bok choy or spinach and have it with rice.

MASHED POTATO MUMMY STYLE

Boil and peel the potato, mash it and add salt and pepper, butter and a spoon of powdered milk. For alo bhorta (mashed potato) add salt, chilli, onions and mustard oil to the mashed potatoes (note: buy a small bottle of mustard oil for an added 'deshi' flavour) and have it with rice.

DAL BHORTA

Boil the mushuri daal (the red daal) till tender, then add salt chilli and onions, and mustard oil. Serve with rice. 

KHICHURI IN RICE COOKER

In a separate pan, boil half a cup of mung daal (the yellow variety). Wash ½ potion of the rice, use the rice cooker pot; add the boiled daal, add salt, half a tea spoon of turmeric and chilli powder, add onion slices, slit chillies, half teaspoon of garlic and ginger paste add 2 tea spoon of mustard oil or any oil mix it. Add 2 rice cooker pot water and cook. Have it with omelettes and chicken.

BEEF AND CHICKEN CURRY FOR RICE AND KHICHURI

Get thinly sliced fillet for this so that it can easily cook and boil. In a wok, add oil, chilli, onions slices, salt, garlic and ginger paste, half a teaspoon of turmeric and chilli, half a spoon of meat masala, and stir it. Add your choice of meat and stir, add a cup of water on medium heat, cook until done. 

DAAL MUMMY STYLE

Boil half a rice cooker pot of 'mushurir daal' in a pot with 2 rice cooker pot of water, add slices on onions to it and salt and a green chilli or two. When you see your daal thoroughly cooked, try to mash it with a spoon that mashes potatoes and such. 

Please note you will not reduce the water like 'chorchori'. The excess water will stay. 

Once your daal is mashed, keep it aside in the pot, take a separate pan, put a few spoons of oil (mustard oil, if you want a deshi flavour), one garlic and onion slices -- fry it in the oil until brown then add this hot oil to the liquid daal in the separate pot. This is called tempering and it will create steam and odour but you have to keep the fan or exhaust on for this. Once it's done, put coriander leaves and green chilli. Have it with rice.

By RBR

Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed

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