Remember when summer holidays were made of lazy afternoons and raw mangoes stolen from the neighbour’s tree? Jam sandwiches and cold nimbu-paani after hours spent playing in the sun?
This No TV Weekend, take a trip down memory lane with friends and family. Get the little ones into the kitchen, call friends over, and surprise them with much-loved favourites served with a twist.
“I can’t steal mangoes today,” says food blogger and entrepreneur Amrita Rana, laughing. “But the memory of those kachcha aam treats has stayed with me, so I make a raw mango mousse that brings alive that flavour from my childhood.”
Cooking together is a great way to keep the family away from the TV, adds food consultant and author Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal.
In fact, the family fun can start with deciding the menu for the weekend.
A good way to get your kids on board, says Ghildiyal, is by asking each of them to suggest a favourite dish or recipe that they would like to help make.
“Then you can make a list and take them shopping for ingredients. This is when you can tell your kids stories about your favourite meals, the veggies and fruits you liked and disliked,” she says.
Family time in the Ghildiyal home is often spent in the kitchen, with her husband and two children, aged 13 and 7.
“We got rid of our TV three years ago, and that has given us more time for such activities, and few sights are as precious as that wide grin of achievement on your child’s face when they realise they have actually cooked a meal,” she says.
It’s not always the mother passing on the love of cooking to the child, though.
Former banking executive Diana Fernandes, 49, says her 17-year-old daughter has taught her to have fun in the kitchen. “She turns on her electronic dance music and bakes cakes from recipes she finds online. She enjoys cooking like I never did,” says Diana, laughing. “Now I find myself doing a jig as I make dinner too.”
Food is also the ultimate way to go home.
Food blogger Kalyan Karmakar says he recreates his mother’s do-it-yourself pasta recipes when he’s missing his mom, who lives in Kolkata.
“I was a fussy eater as a child and she tried so hard... those are precious memories for me,” he says. “Like her, I don’t consult recipes. I just make the dishes based on memory.”
Mumbai-based cinematographer Devu Narayanan remembers hating vegetables as a child. “But my grandmother made an irresistible avial,” she says. “Today, I carry her kitchen secrets with me and in the little kitchen of my rented Andheri flat, so different from her massive kitchen in Thiruvananthapuram, I experiment with different vegetables in avial — a dash of basil, for instance, or zucchini.”
The best part about cooking is the knowledge that you are part of centuries of tradition, says Arundhathi Rao, a teacher with two grown children. Reinventing traditional Tamilian recipes is part of that tradition in her home. “My children made a face every time I made sambar-and-potato curry, so I added cheese and used it as a sandwich filling,” she says. “My kids still love it. And now my daughter, a PR executive who lives in Bangalore, has also started experimenting in the kitchen. She recently told me she used my sambar powder with oats, adding a further twist to the food I made.”
For foodies, the HT No TV Weekend is the perfect time to turn off the box and tune in to your imagination. What was your favourite dish as a child, and how can you reinvent it? If you need a hand getting started, let our experts help you out.
Raw mango mousse (Serves two)
Ingredients: 4 raw mangoes, peeled & sliced; ½ cup sugar; 1 tsp freshly roasted cumin powder; 1 tsp rock salt; handful of mint leaves; 2 cups whipped cream; chilli powder to taste
Method: Boil raw mango in a little water until soft and mushy, add cumin powder, rock salt and sugar and cook for 5-10 minutes, until sugar has melted and water evaporated. Take off flame. Add mint leaves and blend until smooth. Set aside to cool. Whisk cream until soft peaks have formed. Fold in raw mango puree and transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with raw mango slices and chilli powder. Serve chilled.
(Recipe courtesy blogger and food entrepreneur Amrita Rana)
Carrot-cinnamon muffins (Makes 12)
Ingredients: 1½ cups maida; 1½ tsp baking soda; 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg; 2 tsp powdered cinnamon; ½ tsp salt; 3 cups grated carrots; 1½ cups sugar; 1 cup sunflower oil; 1 cup chopped walnuts; 3 eggs, beaten
Method: Preheat oven to 220o C. Sift flour with baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Blend carrots, sugar, oil, walnuts, eggs in another bowl. Add contents of first bowl and mix. Pour batter into 12 muffin moulds. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with butter cream or extra walnuts, and serve cold or warm.
(Recipe courtesy blogger and food entrepreneur Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal)
Malabari quesadillas (Serves two)
Ingredients for filling: 45 gm lamb mince, 1 tbsp hung curd, 2.5 gm turmeric powder, 3 gm caramelised garlic paste, 1 tbsp oil, pinch of cumin seeds, 1 black cardamom, 2 cloves, 5 gm cinnamon, 2-3 black peppercorns, ¼ onion roasted and chopped, 5 gm chopped ginger, 1 chopped green chilli, ¼ tsp cayenne powder, ¼ tsp coriander powder, pinch of fresh coriander leaves, salt to taste
Method: Marinate lamb, curd, salt, turmeric powder and garlic paste for 2.5 hours. Heat oil in pan. Add cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns; sauté till fragrant. Add onions and sauté till combined. Add ginger, green chillies, cayenne, coriander powder. Sauté for a minute. Add marinated kheema and cook on low flame for 2-3 mins.
Ingredients for Malabari paratha: 1 cup wheat flour, pinch of sugar, 60 ml milk, 1 egg white, 100 ml oil, salt to taste
Method: Make a well in the centre of the flour and add salt, sugar, milk, egg white and 80 ml oil. Fold in walls of the well and knead gently with a little cold water to make soft dough. Cover with muslin and set aside for 15 minutes. Smear oil on a rolling board and rolling pin. Roll out thin rotis, spread oil on and fold into a triangle, then roll into a ball; repeat 2-3 times for layered effect. Cover with moist muslin and set aside for 10 mins. Be gentle to retain the layers when rolling into circles for cooking.
Place kheema in centre of each paratha and fold. Heat over low flame, cut each paratha in half and garnish with coriander, chopped chilli and hit of lime. Serve hot, with a salsa dip and fresh salad of rocket, arugala and iceberg lettuce.
(Recipe courtesy Gaurav Dabrai, co-owner of Santé, Bandra)
COOKING WITH THE KIDS
No matter how young or inexperienced your child is, if he can walk and talk, he can start his adventures with food.
A sandwich bar is a great start. You can prep the ingredients and lay them out — sliced vegetables, cold cuts, sliced meat, cheeses, dips and spreads, butter, chutneys, bread, bagels or burger buns, maybe even some fruit preserves and chocolate sauce. Then, let your kids go wild. Lettuce and apricot? Why not?
Another thing that always works with kids is Italian food — a do-it-yourself pizza, lasagna or pasta, or a good old mac and cheese with garlic bread. The key is to make it colourful and let the child lead the way. That’s also the best way to end up with a quirky new recipe.
For older or more practised children, try cupcakes or a chocolate fondue served with cake, marshmallows and fresh fruit. Just cover the good upholstery before you get out the molten chocolate.
(Courtesy blogger and food entrepreneur Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal)