I have been getting repeated questions about what I do about my food, especially how I deal with the 'boon' of being a vegetarisch (Dutch for vegetarian) in a country where everything starts with a 'kip' or a 'vis'! (Your right, I know these words cos I try to identify them first on the menu! It means chicken or fish!)
Well, well, I manage beautifully and how! ;) I do not miss home food and all thanks to the spices mom has sent and my culinary skills within the 3X4 feet kitchenet in my spacebox. I do miss eating junk on roadside though.. :'( The outside food here will come to you in another post!)
|Thats an awfully maintained kitchenet of mine!|
When I first landed here, Schipol airport smelt like pancakes.. sweet sweet pancakes.. For many this may be a flavour to drool but I hated it instantly. Let me get this straight to you all, I hate sweets, I hate the smell of it, I don't eat chocolates or the wedding confectioneries except peni, chiroti and doodh peda; even that has a limit of just one 'stuk'. ;) If you don't find chilly powder or chillies glaring evilly from your plate, then I haven't brewed your meal! I am the Mistress of Spices! ;)
The Dutch survive on bread and cheese alone of various forms. Naturally pancake smell wasn't unexplained! For them spice means salt. If you ask them to spice it a little more all they will do is add pepper to it and wrap it in a neat paper with a smile! I was petrified of the very thought about spending the next 2 years or so here.. I wasn't too sure of my skills in the kitchen except for making crispy, tasty akki rottis and that's hardly a thing you can do daily when you are supposed to be managing studies and a 'house' of your own!
For the first few weeks, mom's ready to cook and eat stuff saved me from starving. I binged on it all day long even when I wasn't hungry. That was my way of getting rid of homesickness. When the booty baggage started looking empty, trust me I checked for all the compartments a thousand times, I was forced to go shopping. Another time sucking menace that I hate!! Specially when you are spoilt for too many options, it can seriously hinder your decision making capabilities whether or not your a libran like me! So many brands of super markets with price and quality tags of their own and not to mention, the safe haven for all Indian food lovers like me-the Turkish shop..
|One markt named Aldi..|
Anyways then began My experiments with truth! boy oh boy! some major experiments with standard rules of cooking! On electric stoves that too.. I hadn't gone close to one in India! I defied everything that mom fervently shouted to me through skype, just cos I was lazy/suffered a problem of inattention and hence I brewed and concocted my steps of cooking.. Burnt rice, overheating the pans such that the teflon coating gets eroded, over spiced(yeah even for my standards) 'curries', forgetting what's on stove while chatting with a friend, the fire alarm friggin' ringing its bells off only to get stares from my chinese neighbour, spoiling a birthday treat of a friend(will post it in a topic called "How not to make kesari bath!"), burning hands, cutting fingers instead of onions, overestimating the freshness quotient of food items and having to throw away the yeast ridden saucers were some of the astronomically enlightening results!
However I strongly believe in the phrase "Try, try and try till you succeed". I dutifully tried everyday (and I still do!). I still didn't listen to mom much mainly cos I never had half the ingredients of what she mentioned. Abiding by her rules only meant extra shopping, nah! forget it! not worth it. Saying that I'd never compromise on the quality/taste of food I eat.. NEVER! I'm a connoisseur of food.. ;) Cooking is like chemistry you see. You need to know which ingredient behaves as what when added to another ingredient(s), the catalysts to enhance taste and the splendid products and by products that come out of it.. Tabulating the experimental results in my brain and applying corollary theorems to each of them, I noted a set of patterns in the conventional cooking styles. I deviated here and there slightly to get modified versions of many "difficult" dishes cooked by mom's in India who start preparing for it early in the morning. And all within half hour's toil between classes! I know,I know,,,, I'm smart.... :D
<==Here is one of my creations. Its close enough to Vegetable kurma and tastes yummmm.. believe me or else I wouldn't have survived here this long!
Aha! To the right(above) is is the pic of a bloating roti! that too on an electric stove!!muhahahah... Although I'm yet to decipher why making rotis fat is a mark of good culianry skills, I was happy when mom said its difficult to get bloated rotis on flames most of the time. And yet, there I had a cute bloated roti on the tava standing on an electric stove! Its become a routine these days! What do I say, I'm just good at it! Or else I'd simply not be called the Roti expert by my Indian neighbours! :D I could make good ones even when my "intelligent and nutrition freak" friend added egg yolk to the atta and asked me to make chapatis out of it!
<== There you go, another night's dinner.. parathas and cheese cum spice dipped capsicum!(capsicums here come in orange, red and yellow colors!)Oh yeah I make use of the Dutch items too!
Below is food for a couple of days! Saves me time at the kitchen counter during rough days ;)
There have been lot of innovative dishes tried in my room till now, some terror inducing and some hunger stimulating!
pasta with sambhar powder(it actually tastes good!),
carrot spread for the bread, bread-o-nion(its one word,careful, I termed it!),
brinjal twists(an accident-I didn't want it to look like twists!),
raddish treats(it was the worst of my experiments I think...that was the raddish marathon week-one raddish was so big that I had to eat it for a week! a case of underestimation..I haven bought another since then..:D) etc etc and of course some conventional items like
all types of sambhars
and of course rice. May be plain rice is the only thing I haven't tried manipulating. Its easy and I'll leave it that way! ;) And none of them exceed my time limit for cooking of half to 3/4th of an hour a day!
|Wheat Pakodas! ;)|
Of course mom's parcel of pickles,chutneys n chutney pudis are all there to compliment my dishes perfectly to the last taste bud!
So lay out your plates people, the new chef is in town!! ;)
PS: If you have a phobia to spices even by a tiny percentage, you should stay away from the dining area! :) I am not liable to consequences arising from your foolish confidence in trying my dishes! :D