So, I go through these phases-I think most of us do. Phases when I want to do something different from my daily routine- read books, learn something new (Back to School), cook, travel, exercise (‘Sweat the Alphabets, Dance the Digits’), binge watch TV shows…
At one such time, not long ago, I wanted to learn art and craft and so I learnt quilling, sospeso and decoupage. I had some really great teachers in Paridhi and Trishla. And really awesome family and friends (you know who you all are :-)) who continue to give me orders and encourage me and make me confident of my newly acquired skills. I would bombard my contact list with pictures of something new I made every day. From photo frames, to soap packaging boxes, jewellery boxes, candles and bottles…I made and decorated literally everything in my sight.
This hobby of mine filled my days with creativity and my mind with positivity and decorative ideas. I realized that this hobby (which started as a time-pass) had quickly become my pleasant escape from the rigmaroles of everyday life- very therapeutic. The happiness I got from creating new things radiated through the rest of my day as well.
(I use Dremel products from Bosch for all my craft needs. They have a wide variety of DIY and hobby tools with all kinds of accessories and high quality Glue Guns. These products can be pre-ordered and bought at Bosch System Specialist-United Hardware Corporation.)
Most go to health retreats and spas to attain peace. For me, my craft had become my oasis.
Then was a phase when I wanted to cook every day. I am not too fond of eating regular daal-chawal, so I would scour the internet and cook books in our home library for international recipes. I experimented with recipes and made Italian, Japanese, Burmese and Korean food. On my travels, I made shopping trips to gourmet grocery stores and called my phoren friends to get me ingredients that I couldn’t get here. I even got my nani to part with her mom’s cherished kaccha gosh biryani recipe. I got tips from my masis, chachis, buas, et al.
From English breakfasts to BBQ dinners, I had a blast inviting friends and cousins over for elaborate meals replete with elaborate table settings. Felt a little bit like Nigella 😉 I also sent across boxes of desserts and mains to family and well-wishers and waited excitedly for their comments on my culinary skills.
The ultimate euphoria, however, is when my two baby nephews say, ‘masi, it is yummy!’ 🙂
My dear friend Anupama and her mom, Usha aunty featured a recipe of mine on their website. I’ll reproduce it below. It’s a Japanese dish called Chicken Katsudon. It was introduced to me by my close friends Suhashini and Laurie on one of their trips to Vizag. They told me it was a popular dish in London as well (where they lived). Some of the ingredients like sake and mirin despite my best efforts I could not get here, so I made do without it. If you do try the recipe, let me know how it turns out for you.
This dish is a complete meal with fried chicken and rice.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tbsp curry powder (it has a strong flavour, so use it according to taste)
600ml chicken stock
2 tbs brown sugar/ 1tbps honey
1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce/any dark soy sauce
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp garam masala
4 small chicken breasts
100g flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten lightly
250g Panko or any other breadcrumb
Oil for shallow frying
Japanese rice or any local rice to serve
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a small pan. Add onion, ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, then add carrots and cook slowly for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally until softened and starting to caramelize. Stir in the flour and curry powder and cook for a minute. Slowly pour in the stock until combined (do this gradually to avoid getting lumps). Add the sugar or honey, tomato paste, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, cumin powder and bay leaf and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, so that the sauce thickens but is still of pouring consistency. Add garam masala, and then pass the sauce through a sieve.
Now prepare the chicken. Lay the seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs on separate plates. Coat the chicken in the flour, and then dip into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the breaded chicken breasts for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper.
Fry an egg and top it on the rice. Slice the chicken diagonally and serve with the sauce drizzled over.
While I alternate between picking the ladle and rustling something up for dinner or making a curio for our home, I am ready for my next phase (Back to School). Wonder what new wondrous adventures it will take me on.
For Dremel: Bosch System Specialist-United Hardware Corporation, 28-16-10, ‘Prospect House’, Opp. Fire Station, Suryabagh, Visakhapatnam. Ph: 0891-2562737/8885514777
Tamanna S. Mehdi