Jun 27, 2007

Kitchen Karishma - I

ॐ श्री गुरावे नमः !
ॐ नमः शिवाय!

This is a well known fact that India is one of the Greatest kitchens of the world, preparations like Samosa, Tandoori chicken & Roti, Palak (Spinach) Paneer (Cottage cheese), Allu (Potato) Tikka are already famous. one can do many things with potatos and other Vegetables, India is one place where the largest Vegetarian palates exists.
The cooking, taste and intensity of spices vary from region to region, the cooking oil also differs from Groundnut oil in general to Mustard seed oil in North & East to Coconut oil in Kerala, now it is safflower or sunflower oil and many more mixed vegetable ghee or oil etc. clarified butter is also used a lot for mainly Tadaka or Talimpu, which adds such a beautiful aroma and improves the taste of any dish to great heights.
As I lived in most parts of India, I have a taste for almost every dish, north or south, east or west, but now I am a strict vegetarian and flowing towards Yog Sadhana, so my menu is very restricted. over the years I have tried to narrow down the ingredients to minimum and yet get the same taste and your tongue would not complain of you being unfair or too bland.
Tongue saying: this is not fair!, the story I heard in my prime years about the body organs going on strike, who is important, stomach or teeth etc, :-)
I started cooking when I was 11 years old, I learned my first cooking lessons from my mother who was down with Arthritis and could barely walk or move, so she would sleep in the living room which was closer to the kitchen, I would try to cook, during those days we did not have the gas stove or electric stove, only mode of cooking was those high pressured kerosene stoves, the kerosene is pumped with a piston creating tremendous pressure, the flame would still be like a gas stove flame, but the small hole through which the pressurised kerosene jets out needs to be cleaned with a pin for uniform flame very frequently, this was in 1977 in Agra Cantt., India. Though my Father was a great cook too, the main hobby he enjoyed, he would sit on a chair and direct assistant cooks mostly his colleagues to cook for about 600 people in any gathering, on many occasions I helped him and also learned few techniques, his colleagues were many times astonished at my cooking and preparation skills, I was in my teens.:-)

Here I will tell you how to cook a Vegetable or even any Animal body ;-) with following method which would make it look Indian and spicy:
Cut your Vegetables (Any) to small 1 inch squares ( with the new vegetable cutter) please do not measure them with scale or weigh them for uniformity, :-)), Take a pan and put some oil, here we have options: Oil can be Vegetable oil/ Clarified butter/ Vegetable fat etc.
Heat it and add few seeds of Mustard (mustard seeds should not pop in oil) and Jeera (Cumin) too much will make your dish bitter, add Chilli powder, Turmeric powder and Salt (Iodized) and let them blend together, reduce the heat to keep the color, too much heat will change the color to black :-)).
Now add your washed vegetable pieces and turn them with a ladle till all pieces are colored, close the pan with a lid for few minutes, the vegetable gets cooked in the steam, turn them continuously, the vegetable is cooked if a spoon can cut through it, reduce the heat and let is saute, when you see oil droplets in your dish, the dish is ready to serve.
Normally Indian dishes are served with Rice or Roti, but you can take it as your main dish also but keep in mind the spice and your tongue :-).
Quantities of spice:
Salt depends on your Blood pressure so act accordingly, if you have high blood pressure, reduce salt to the minimum and in case of Low Blood pressure, add optimum, too much is difficult to swallow. :-)))).
Chilli Powder: It kills all unwanted bacteria, in your GI system, Entry level palates might suffer from severe burning in wrong places, so start with minimum and increase it slowly and use old chilli powder only, new chili powder could be too much for beginners, over a period of time your much required bacteria will also get used to it, it is a question of time and patience, In Andhra Pradesh a province of India- famous for Spicy Chutneys, we consume raw chili powder with little clarified butter or Vegetable fat depending on your purse and people who pay too much taxes- with out any butter and well done rice. beginners better keep some sweet meats or lots of water near by.
Turmeric powder: Turmeric is a beautiful product of Nature, it is a gift to Humanity by the Nature, Vicco has been passing this message since many decades for its skin care products. Turmeric is Antiseptic (Apply it on any bruise see the result overnight), but it does change the color of any dish to yellow, you can always cover it up with few pieces of beetroot or Tomato puree, it will help subdue the intensity of spice, your tongue will be happy.:-))
Too much Turmeric will taste like dish of Turmeric, 1 table spoon for 1 Kg of Vegetable is optimum, and same thing for chili powder.

So with this preparation not only we have taken care of Hunger, we are giving the body its much needed calories, we are keeping our Blood pressure, digestion, bacterial infections in check, and skin is more prepared to take all the UV rays from sun- no cancer of skin because of UV rays of sun.
People with fare skins and who would like to have this permanent copper tone with out wasting money on machines or sleeping in sun for long periods and exposing themselves to harmful UV rays should instead add little Masala (Spice) to their Menu, and see the color of their skin glowing with copper tone. more spice you eat darker the skin will get, 'Yes' time is crucial entity here, it would not happen overnight.
Best combination:

Buttered Nan/Pita/Chapatis/Roti/Pulkas (dry paper thin small pitas)/Puri (Oil Fried Rotis) and Rice/ Fried rice/Lemon rice/Tamarind rice are the best combination to go with this Vegetable dish.
Additional ingredients if you desire:
New to Spice world: add Tomato puree/Lemon juice/Mango puree/Tamarind juice etc to subdue the intensity of spice and yet preserving the benefits of the dish.
or add plain milk( two cups for 1 kg of Vegetable) or plain Yogurt ( One cup for 1 Kg Vegetable, keep an eye on this dish in summer it gets sour)
Type of Vegetable: Any vegetable available in the Market, yes for Bitter gourds ( good for Diabetes) add some extra lemon or have some courage and consume the bitter pill with all its seeds.
Above given is the shortest and fastest way to cook a vegetable with south Indian touch.
Charaka circa 1000 BC : The great Indian doctor used to talk to herbs asking their healing properties. :-) how?
Lord Krishna was a great cook ......
Tadka (Hindi) or Talimpu ( Telugu): Place small amount of oil/clarified butter/butter/vegetable ghee in a separate Pan and heat, add few mustard, jeera seeds, few curry leaves, little garlic, saute and add the heated mixture to the boiled vegetable soup/curry or Lentil soup, few changes are always possible.
Tea spoon: Small Tea spoon
More to follow........................

ॐ श्री गुरावे नमः !
ॐ नमः शिवाय!

Sianala, Montreal, July 2007

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