Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Traditionally yours :)

Urad dal vada

Deep fried foods are always welcome in our house. Indian cuisine is rich in oil and south Indian cuisine has some of the best fried food recipes like bajji, yellow dal vada, urad dal (lentil) vada, pappadam, vadam, muruku etc.My mom makes yummy fried stuff very often, my brother and I always fight over the last one :) still we fight when it comes to food. No shop brought food can taste like the home made ones, they have the 'love' added unconditionally.

During the first year Friday's had a fixed lunch menu: sambar, papadam and potato fry (mama's most favorite). Mama would never trade the lunch for anything, even non veg. Sambar is his most favorite curry and I hate it (as usual) but its still the Friday curry in our house and the only thing missing is the papadam.

I have an electric cook top (fully glass) stove in here and it supports only flat bottomed utensils and I cant use the traditional kadais here :(. Flat bottom utensils means lots of oil wastage so I never made any fried stuff :( . Here people use fryers and we did not want to over crowd the too small kitchen of mine. But the craving to have some hot vada or bajji remained because its too cold in here and nothing can keep you warn like them.

Last week when I was talking to my mom I told her about the craving and she said " Why not waste some oil? You will be happy that you finally had some". She made me think. My mom gave me the push this time and I decided to surprise mama the coming weekend with the vada. He was silently craving for some too, just that he wont tell.

Urad dal vada is so simple to make but I like the Masala vada or parupu vada more. When I was in Chennai I used to make small parupu vadas for lunch and they have this lovely aroma and loads of spice. Crunchy parupu vadas are a yum and now I miss them terribly, I wish mom was here to make some for me. I really feel sad when my bro shows off the lovely vadas over Skype :( . Of course I make him a bit more sadder with my pizzas :p

My attempt on vada making started off with soaking the dal first thing in the morning. By 11 am when I had finished making some puliyogare and cut onions, chillies and ginger for the vada I put the dal in the mixer to make the batter. That is when the problem started, the mixer I guess had some gastric trouble for the sounds it produced gave me a fit. Mama came running to check if everything was fine. He knew right away I was in for something. I told him finally. Then we somehow made the batter without breaking the mixer :) 

The batter
My mom always says the consistency of the batter matters a lot. the more watery the more amount of oil the vada will absorb so the batter must be a little thick, which it was:). Since urad dal vada is traditionally made with a hole in-between which I had no idea how to do it, mama the savior jumped in. 

My all-in-all busy frying
He knew how to put the hole and drop them into the hot oil. He always surprises me when it comes to things like this. He has never made a vada in his life before but he knows how to do it. There is always a story behind his 'knowledge' which is too good to hear. I am a big fan of the stories :)

There you go!!  The vada with the HOLE

Mama is this chutney guy, he needs chutney for anything and everything. This time it was very easy for him to demand one and I had to make it. Its always coconut chutney for him. Every time I make some mama will find flaws, he says I make bad-chutneys and will alter them. This time was just like the others :( But he was completely blown off with the vada.

Coconut chutney

I don't remember eating the puliyogare it was only the vadas. I might have consumed around 10, I was still hungry for more but with mama watching and giving out his 'aren't u full?' mocking smile, I had to stop.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The challenge meal :)

The challenge : Winning smile

Initially when I started cooking (2 years back) , I was dead slow. A whole 2 hours was spent in making a simple curry and a poriyal. No matter how fast I was I ended up taking/wasting more time to cook. That's probably because I had all the time on earth. I worked as a technical writer but quit too early before i fell in love with the job. The main reason being 'less-time-spending' with mama. We eat all the three meals together which seldom happens in families, its very special to the both of us. Mama's office was close to our house and that is how he likes it to be.

When I got pregnant I moved in with my parents and did not cook even a single day. Sometimes I will so badly want to cook and I would make a curry for the roti. 

 I came to Geneva ( when babbi was 4 months old)  and started my second innings in cooking. Two factors affect my cooking in this part of the world: Time and Space. A crawling baby means you have a 'mobile-trouble'. Babies always love the wrong things ( mine loves to lick shoes) and you have to be vigilant all the time. Cutting vegetables and running behind the baby happens side by side and is an everyday thing. Compared to my first kitchen now the place ( I wont call it kitchen) where I cook is too (only 2 'o's are allowed) small. 

Cutlets without ketchup is MI

Hence my cooking adventures ALWAYS take place only when mama is at home. He( god bless him) takes full care of my first problem. Now tackling the second one looks so easy. Finding time to cook is a dear these days so I never let go of the slightest opportunity. Weekends are the gateway to my adventure cooking. Every week starts with a new dish :)

This week my plans were to make a full meal. I decided to make some chicken cutlets, peas pulav and shrimp fry . The Sunday started with a small fight and i decided not to cook lunch, i do this every time we fight. Soon we patched up ( the usual) and I got back to the cooking mood. When i started to cook mama got a mail, he had work and will leave to office in two hours. so i had just one and a half hour to cook and I am never used to fast cooking. 

Chicken Cutlets:  
  Chicken is one food that I adore since I turned 8. I never used to like non veg till then. It was introduced to me by Lovy aunty, my neighbor who is a master chef. My first mutton cutlets were made by her for Christmas. I used to hide under the table when mom made chicken chops, I still dunno why. Mama will laugh when he reads this. He blames for the raise in chicken prices. It took me some time to realize that my mom's chicken chops were yummier and worth all praise. The fish cutlets that mom makes have no substitute. I have tried them in so many restaurants and nothing won over mom's cutlets. I eat like 20 at a time. 

It is a surprise that I have never tasted a chicken cutlet in my life. The first ones I had was made by me, yay!!. Since I hate white bread I used brown bread crumbs for the coating. I do cutlets in my mom's style, I never deep fry them but shallow fry and mama the crazy guy found out the difference. He just loveeesss fried stuff. 


Peas Pulav: 
 Frozen peas is inexpensive here and hence my freezer has a permanent occupant now. It is the 'X' ingredient and goes into almost all of my dishes. Peas pulav is so simple to make and it tastes damn good. The aroma from the bay leaves, cloves and cardamom will make your tummy growl. Priceless feeling!!

Shrimps : Full of spice

The Shrimps:
    We never get fresh shrimps here which is a sad thing. People here eat half cooked shrimps and use them for salads.After a 3 day research i finally got some frozen raw shrimps. Since everything is in french and most of the time they don't even specify if the prawns are cooked it was a big deal to find some, especially when you got bad weather and a stroller with a sleeping baby to push around.  I don't fry them in a lot of oil just cook them with little water and make them dry so they are mostly crisp. It was too good and spicy, secret lies with the marinade I made the day before when I was free.

I won the challenge hands down not just because i cooked the food on time and took care of babbi  in-between. PROUD WIN!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pizzzzzaaaa : from the scratch :)

All set to grill
I love junk, so does mama. one thing we both love in unison when it comes to food. junk is my comfort food because they taste like a whole new world, yum. my first year of married life survived on junk, especially pizza and KFC. When i came to Swiss i had big big dreams on attacking the new food and the various European cuisine from the n number of restaurants. unfortunately the first ever ham pizza i tried from a well know Italian restaurant tasted like sea salt my hopes slowly started to shatter. to be more precise what ever we tasted was suppose to taste the same way and mama already warned me about it. Of course i dint believe him. i realized my Desi tongue will not enjoy Non-Desi (spicy) food.  I use spicy sauce for my pasta too.

Hence the idea of making my own pizza was born. Secondly when we shopped in the nearby store i got hold of some yeast, which put some momentum to my love to bake. But the final call was when i saw one of my favorite blogger posting lovely pictures of the pizza she had made from the scratch. Here there is also a  fourth factor that lead to my making : mama (he missed pizza hut's chicken tikka pizza) 

Watching the crust raise and cheese melt......yummmm

I don't have the habit of following one recipe to the dot. i like tot add or remove stuff so that the dish that comes out will have my tag, my own recipe. So the pizza i made is a combined effort of 3 blogs and one cook.

The process is a long and time consuming one but the results are worth it. The pizza base takes up almost 2 and a half hour to get ready. In India we get ready-made bases which mostly get burnt or get tough and finally turn tasteless. So to make a good pizza we need a very good pizza base recipe, which i luckily got from here
Next is the pizza sauce. Mama mainly hated the sweetness in the ready made sauce we get here and he too preferred spicy sauce. Aided by two red chillies and three of my favorite Italian herbs (oregano, parsley and basil) the sauce was made in no time. I prefer dried herbs so that they would last long. They are much cheaper this way. That's the biggest problem with Swiss, it damn costly and making your own food might help you save 75% of the money you spend on buying ready-made food.

 The third part of the pizza will be the topping. Again inspired by another food blogger I decided to add chicken to my pizza, she had used tandoori masala. i on the other-hand had no tandoori masala and cant buy one due to my geographical location. i made my own chicken sauce with the regular and my always faithful ingredients and a tad bit of Shakthi chicken masala ( brought from India). LOL

While layering i added some onions and corn for the crispness and generously spread fresh Mozzarella cheese

There you are. Perfectly made!!

It was a wonderful junk evening. With a glass full of coke and a big slice of pizza in hand we chatted on how to clean up the mess i had made in the kitchen. Mama is a everything-must-be-clean person who always finds some place or the other in our house that needs cleaning.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pasta: extremely versatile :)

A perfect dinner

Pasta: my second food. The first one is rice cuz I am from south India and its staple, not that I like it . I had no choice. Mama is a perfect south Indian who can eat rice for all three meals and he never gets bored. He would never try new food and was totally against it. But now times have changed, kudos to me!!

 As in for pasta, I knew it existed when Sunfeast manufactured its instant pasta which I did not like(the taste). But only after my marriage I got the first ever pasta packet, it was penne pasta and a pasta sauce, barilla brand. I always need some kind of pushing (advice) to do new things, it was Selvi athai whom I asked . She readily told me how easy it is to make pasta and how yummy it tastes.

 The sizzling garlic bits in hot olive oil, the aroma of fried chilli flakes, the flavor from oregano, sweetness of the tomato, crunchy capsicum and carrot bits: everything was there in the pasta. I ate what I made, clean sweep. Mama was happy that I did not give him any :). The second time I cooked pasta I added some soy sauce and tomato sauce, it was wonderful.

After experiencing the pasta bliss twice I was a little bold to make pasta for mama which he didn't like, highly expected reaction (for god sake, it was his first pasta). Still not beaten by mama's negative comments I brought another pasta sauce, this time pesto flavor.

At Residency towers

This picture was clicked at Residency Towers on my birthday. to make things more clear, this was the first time i tried my hands on real pasta made by a real pasta cook. It was spaghetti pasta with tomato sauce and baked cherry tomatoes. It was a wonderful evening and this time too mama could maximum eat just a strand.

After a little affair with some fusilli and farfalle pasta I went through "getting a bigger bump" phase and delivered my princess on time. Then we flew down to Geneva, Switzerland where pasta is one of the staple food and 'surprise surprise' mama had already brought a packet of pasta and there was pasta sauce in the fridge. The happiest part is that "instant noodles" is much more expensive than a whole packet of pasta. I had this broad smile on my face cuz I get the chance to explore every variety of pasta and sauce.

My first attempt here was a success and mama loved it, it was a tad spicy than the normal pasta. Now its become a part of my life (just like rice), I use it and substitute it for everything. Cooking a little pasta in chicken stock and adding it to any soup will definitely make you a tummy full happy person. When broken and cooked spaghetti becomes some sort of a new substitute for rice and roti that goes well with left over chicken curry and vegetable kuruma. Just add some chopped vegetable, soy sauce and some dried basil and oregano its yummy again. Pasta goes well with any kind of meat and I love to eat it with tuna and lots of olive oil. If sweets are on your mind, pour chocolate sauce over the milk cooked pasta, it feels like heaven.

I love to make things from the scratch and I have my eyes on making my own pasta one day. Its just that I need a lot of time and patience which I don't have now. As for the pasta sauce I tried making my own version keeping just tomato as my base and it was good. 

With Potato Cheese balls
Speaking of pasta I really need to cook some after posting this page :D.

Its just not over here, I can write more about pasta. Maybe another time. By the by sorry for the bad photography, they were not clicked with the intention of being in a blog.

Finally a big thank you to my baby Babbi who slept peaceful on my lap the whole time I wrote this post.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The begining, hope this is not the end :)

I don't know why I wanna blog. After failing two times miserably I feel lucky the third time. So I am trying to prove me wrong. After this new post i will duck myself under a cover like the last time and decide that this will be my last "third time blogging" attempt Or by some sort of grace I might even continue which i think is mostly doubtful. Who cares? if at all some one does, that will be me and I don't mind :D

The two best things I love in this world will be writing and food. I did take up writing seriously and it ended up in trash. As for cooking, the exploring and experimenting started just two years back when i got my own kitchen and money. Of course how can I forget the GUINEA PIG, who provided me both the kitchen and money, my lovable mama. He is not much of a eater and eats whatever i make (he has no choice). He never comments, which is irritating at times but that's what husbands are all about.

When I wanted to blog I knew for sure it must either be about my writings or my cooking. But my inspiration to pen down here came from all those n number of bloggers who give loads of recipe ideas on every possible cuisine available in this world. Being one among them will look like a cliche cuz most of my cooking comes from those pages. So I thought may be I can write about the food I love and the incidents that relates to them and add pics of what I cooked into this blog. That would give me the satisfaction of living, this is not for others to read and enjoy which is highly doubted. It's just to tell myself that I too can blog. Slowly that might even help me to come out of the block I am suffering from.

As in for the name FONDUE INDIAN , fondue is Switzerland's national food which is molten cheese gooey and yes full of fat. LOL. In so many ways Switzerland has helped me with my cooking expedition starting with the oven and ingredients, I wouldn dare to buy back home. But have this SMALL liking for the fondue which itself is a SIN, it made me FAT :P.

As for who I am, should I even reveal myself??

I am Chella KS Nathan from India. Married to a Charted Accountant who surprisingly is not a geek. Our happy little world has become much more pleasanter with the arrival of our little princess who is our light. We live in Geneva, Switzerland where boredom is unavoidable and hence this new endeavor (read it craziness ).