For the Love of Food… and Kitchen!

Sunday, May 08, 2011 Mydah Tariq 5 Comments Category :

A kitchen is perhaps the last place a monstrous-study-stricken MBBS student would like to be. Seriously, who wants to bear the sweltering heat emanating from within its four walls and trapped below a roof, with an exhaust fan, by the way aptly named so, trying to belch out whatever wafts it can, while still leaving a significant volume of steam and sweat for you to bathe in! BUT that’s the stereotypical kitchen you measure up while standing in the doorway. To understand the true potential of this realm, an adventure in its true sense is essential.
So first things first... Define the purpose of your visit. Do you intend to wreak havoc in your kitchen just for the sake of it, or do you want something productive out of that havoc you’re going to be wreaking? If its your first time in there, keep it simple. If you’ve been there a bit too often (unsuccessfully), recall the points where you went wrong. Do not hesitate from asking for guidance… mums can’t banish you from kitchens forever!
Next, line up the ingredients. Its best to have everything you’re going to be using at hand. Otherwise when you’re in the middle of tasting-mixing-simmering-adding-subtracting-sweating and meanwhile rummaging for spices, you may cause the dish to burn, or even change its taste to something you can’t go back from. A very simple example: finely chopped garlic if not kept stirred around while it is sautéed, go over a couple of seconds and let it change color, that incredible garlicky flavor gets totally converted to a strong, unpleasant one that persists throughout; and this is a number one step in most of the dishes!
Now you’re ready to begin. Follow your recipe, engage your senses. Olfactory and gustatory on high alert! Do not let things overcook themselves… you lose lots of nutrients that way! If you’re opting for Chinese, go for sautéing veggies at high flame; keep them crunchy... they’re not to be made into a saalan! It goes for everything... French Fries over-fried, you burn them and get them gritty; preparing a spicy masala sprinkled with coriander, green chilies and julienne ginger… overcook it and you lose the fresh springy aroma of these divine ingredients; even a simple cup of tea… leave it to boil, boil and boil, and it turns into this dark mush! Bottom-line, keep it fresh… retain the true inbred flavors every spice and herb has to offer. The longer you leave them on the flame, the more homogeneity in terms of flavor you add.
Another point: herbs and certain other ingredients work best when added at the end. You may even try to add them to your dish while its still in process, so that some of the original flavors permeate it at that point, but later on just before taking the dish off, sprinkle them on top, cover with lid and turn off your flame. Fresh coriander, mint, julienne ginger, thyme, oregano, freshly squeezed lemon juice… all fall in this category. Add the entire quantity beforehand… say bye-bye to their savory delights!
Experimenting is an extremely important key… and no, not all of them end in disasters!! You never know what you may discover, that’s why practice is so essential. Add your tid-bits to the recipe. Go for some spice whose aroma fascinates you or a herb whose freshness intrigues your senses. As I said before... it's all about the co-ordination of olfaction and gustation! At the end of the day, this way, you may even narrow down dishes or options that do not work with you. I remember baking myself for a certain dish that seemed entirely simple to prepare, but after 45 minutes of stirring and boiling and what-not, I realized it was just not my dish for it never changed its consistency, nor color, from the dark liquidy thing it had started from! But on the other hand, I discovered a very simple way for preparing fried chicken by tukka considering I’d never bothered to even look up a recipe. Snacks and salads are a very safe place to experiment if you’re apprehensive of messing up the proper, cooked dishes.
So that’s a rough sketch of a kitchen from my eyes. I just claim to have a thing for cooking, and yes, even in summers. For me, it provides a certain pleasure that perhaps is not easy to describe. But in the simplest terms stated, it helps take my mind off the routine and plunge into a world where I’m allowed to play around with ingredients the kitchen graciously presents me with, and where the magnificent world of spices and herbs never ceases to marvel me.

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5 comments

  1. Good post! Welcome to the blog Mydah!:)
    When do we get to taste your kitchen-cooked delights by the way?;P

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  2. hahaha that's a good way to welcome haina? =D Feels good to be here finally! And since you've been so helpful Faiza, you can place in a special demand any time ;) (p.s. Not that I'm an expert or anything. Lol!)

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  3. hahaha waaah jee bawarchi mydee :D ;)

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  4. thumbs up jannaab;ploved a few lines so much k bus...:)that garlic/mint aroma of food recapitulated:)gr8 work

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  5. @Muzna: i take that as a complement ;)

    @anonymous: thank u very much! =)

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