About a month ago my two parents-in-law left for India and to perform Umrah. In their absence it’s just me, Saqib and Waasiq at home. I’d basically been left in charge of cooking dinner everyday. I got help from Saqib and Waasiq, but for the most part I was faced with the difficult task of answering “What’s for food?” every night.
Usually I don’t cook a lot of different things. My standard rotation is lasagna or enchiladas, which are basically the same thing from different parts of the world. Obviously I can’t cook those two dishes over and over again, so I’ve had to branch out a bit. I think I’ve been rather adventurous, personally. I’ve tried making dishes I never though I could, primarily desi food.
For starters I tried my hand at allu ki bhujiya. I got a recipe from allrecipes.com and also kinda winged it. I started with oil, onions, haldi, laal mirch, rye, salt and cumin. Then I added the sliced potatoes, let them cook, and added in some diced tomatoes. It wasn’t so bad… in fact it was kind of good! We ate it with dahl and keema.
While I was at it, I tried using the same spices another day with some chick peas. It was good, but didn’t taste as good as it could’ve. I’m not sure what the recipe was missing, but hopefully I’ll figure that out. The day I made the chick peas, I also made butter chicken.
Wow, that was eye-opening. I finally found out why it was named butter chicken–there’s a ton of butter in it! I made enough for three people, and I had to use an entire stick of butter and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Suffice it to say, I’ll be hesitating to eat it the next time I see it at a wedding now that I know how fattening it is. We were really filled up at the end of that meal. All the dairy cream was rushing to my head.
Aside from the desi cooking, I also tried to change up some of the dishes I’m used to making. This past summer I think I can say that I mastered Mongolian Beef. All of my chicken stir fry dishes, however, never really tasted that exciting. So instead of going for the same mix of salty flavors, I decided to try sweet and sour chicken. I started with boneless thighs and cooked them with carrots, broccoli and bell peppers in oil, soy sauce, chilli paste and garlic. Once the juices started running, I added brown sugar, pineapple juice, ketchup, and corn starch. I turned it down to a simmer and let it thicken. It had the signature red color, and it was pretty sweet. I actually liked it, and I’m never a fan of the dish to begin with. We ate some spring rolls with it, and the sauce from the dish was pretty good for dipping.
We also had a night of homemade pizza and chicken wings. We tried a new method for the wings that didn’t involve deep frying them first. We actually steamed them and then broiled them. Knowing that they weren’t doused in oil made me feel a little bit better about eating them.
On the other hand, when I ate fried chicken the other night, I was feeling a bit guilty about it. Saqib soaked the legs in buttermilk first, and used vegetable shortening to fry them! The shortening helped to reduce the smell of the frying a lot, but dude– it was a lot of shortening! We ate that with macaroni & cheese and mashed potatoes.
Hmm… there was another night when we ate steak. Saqib originally marinated it with just salt and pepper and it came out really good. You could actually taste the meat. It wasn’t hidden under a million spices and flavors. We tweaked that just a bit and added Italian dressing the next time around and it also tasted good. The dressing added some more taste, but it didn’t take away from the meat.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that after a month of having to figure out “What’s for food?” I’m a little more confident about the day I’ll have to run my own kitchen and do this every day. Until then, hope you have yourself some good eats!