To Live, Love and Learn: A Cookworm's Tale
The Chatterjees – a grand-aunt who is more like a grandmother, an uncle who is more like an elder brother, and an aunt who is a friend you can really talk to – are probably the three people (now four, congrats again!) in the world, apart from my mum and dad, who indulge every food dream I have. They are also the only people in the world with whom I have elaborate menu planning sessions, and they are the ones who gave me my first ‘feast for 20’. Weekends with the Chatterjees mean a welcome break from the workload of the weeks.
Last year, I spent my Durga Puja week with them, and it was generally agreed that the week would have to be about good food from all over Delhi (and NCR too, as it turned out!). But I think the best meals we had that week were home cooked. This particular meal was definitely one.
The chicken barely took any effort. We had 750 g of chicken tossed into a baking dish with 2 onions, 2 teaspoons of ginger garlic paste, 3 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce and salt to taste, baked for about 25 minutes in the microwave at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (around 150 degrees Celsius).
For the Corn Fried Rice, I sauteed 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 capsicum, a few french beans and a cup of sweet corn kernels till tender, then added cooked long grain rice/basmati and mixed the whole thing well (careful! Don’t break the rice grains!). I finished with seasoning and cinnamon, you could add some coriander if you wanted.
For dessert, I made Chocolate Cake with Sticky Toffee (we finished eating it long, long before dinner). You need 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs and 1 cup castor sugar to start with. Beat them all into airy submission. Then add 1 and a 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and sieve them all together once or twice (the more you sieve it, the lighter your cake will be due to the incorporation of air). Add this floury mix into the liquid mix and fold the batter together gently. Don’t ever over beat the batter since that would make the cake heavy and dense. I didn’t always bake this way (you know keeping the liquid and dry ingredients separate till the last minute), but Rachel Allen says its better and I’ve stuck to that for the last 4 or 5 years. And it works too!
Pour the batter into a greased cake mold and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes and take it out once its done. For the Sticky Toffee you need flavored and colorful toffees and honey or caramel. Just crush the toffees, mix together with the honey or caramel and pour over your cake. I used two small molds to bake the cake and put them together with an extra layer of sticky toffee. If you have one large cake, you can carefully cut it into two layers and add the toffee layer. Or you can just have it in one layer at the top of you cake. Whichever way you want it, the moist cake and the crunchy toffee work brilliantly well together.
As I said before, this is just one of the many brilliant meals that have come out of that Chatterjee kitchen. There were more and there sure will be more soon enough. Just wait and watch what the Chatterjees and I put together next!
(This post is for Leo Chatterjee, the Solid cousin I have, so that he can see what we used to do before he came along and consider what is to come since he has arrived.)