I usually come back here to you after about two weeks or so. This time it has been a little longer. Reason? I didn’t taste anything worthwhile which could be written about? Nope !!!
If you realise, you eat food minimum three times a day and some of us even have it after every two hours or so. The number of items we eat in a day, we don’t even realise. By a simple count, average three items or dishes in three meals makes it nine, additionally, tea or coffee or a beverage, then a snack or someone offers a chocolate or a toffee or a namkeen etc etc. Then, besides this you attend a wedding or a party or an office get together where you are confronted by a whole range of food and drinks. And in my case, I travel too (last week was in Kochi and was desperately looking for filter coffee which Keralites are not fond of and therefore settled for Kerala thick rice and famous Meen Curry). So, travel is also an add on to the list of food encounters. Practically, you are hit by food or vice versa many times a day ( even if one is dieting). So how can one run out of food stories ?
No, even I didn’t run out of story ideas all this time (always generating story ideas is part of my early years of training during journalism times). Ideas are always there in my ever increasing repository. But I keep on contemplating what would click with most of you. So, here today I am taking you through a simple yet flavourful journey which may encourage you to try it out yourself or at least send some ideas to me.
A few days ago, accidentally I got to watch a video on FB (normally I am not fond of those so called humanistic or spiritualistic or funny videos). This one, however, caught my attention. It narrated, actually showed, how a housewife (including working women) never get a day off. We all men are entitled to an off and take pride in having a lazy Sunday, relaxing, reading newspapers, relaxed tea followed by relaxed breakfast in the bed, TV etc etc. Therefore, on a Sunday, the lady of the house is even more burdened with your tantrums. The video suggested that men should give a break to the lady of the house at least on a Sunday by volunteering to make at least the breakfast, if not all the meals.
I am a foodie who would go an extra mile to taste good food and have a palate to enjoy the flavours. Love to watch cookery and food exploration shows on the tv. And, sometimes, albeit not regularly, try my hands on cooking, mostly on Sunday evenings. These cooking sessions are not regular. May be once or twice a month. So, the foodie in me, supported by a loving husband and a doting father, resolved to take on the responsibility of Sunday breakfast. Announced this resolution of mine to the family to a lot of cheers (although with cautions of not to use which ingredient in individual cases, what adventurism in flavours not to be undertaken and above all, like all men, strictly not to ruin the kitchen). For a while, thought have I just now experienced a self inflicted injury? But no, the resolve was strong enough to wish away all the threats handed out to me.
I had three days to think and announce what would my first dish on this Sunday. A google click on breakfast recipes threw on my face scores and scores of options. Confused, I switched to the YouTube to get further confused with a whole lot of tempting ideas. Finally, I decided to clear the clutter in my head by thinking few options myself and offering those to my customers (my family). Finally, the children had their way and we all agreed on “Healthy Burgers” to start with, this Sunday. And yes, the threat to me to not to undertake any adventurism was duly repeated and was asked to keep it simple yet tasty. Huge task, oooh !!!
First, I prepared the recipe of the burgers in my head (American dish with fusion of American-Indian flavours: simple yet distinct). Then, as usual, bounced off my recipe with my friend and a regular sounding board, Chef Sanjay Pawar. He gave green signal to my recipe and also gave some useful tips to try out. Equipped with the final recipe, Saturday was the day to buy the ingredients, including Buns and Multigrain Bread and some sauces.
While assembling a burger is a no great skill, it’s the Patty which you use and the sauce you use decides the success of the taste. Preparing a patty is also a long drawn process and in my mind I had decided to sacrifice my Sunday morning sleep to some extend and start the pre-prep a bit early to catch up with the usual lazy Sunday breakfast time. However, the first part of the problem was addressed by the customers themselves by declaring that they want a veg burger (I personally don’t like veg burgers and that declaration increased the level of my challenge to make the sauce distinct while using the McCain Veg Burger Patty). The focus of the challenge was now the sauce.
First, to start with, I caramalised the finely chopped onion slices in a bit of Olive Oil. Those crunchy, a bit sweet dark brown coloured caramelised onions were to be used as taste enhancer, monotony breaker in the texture and providing contrast look to the sauce to be prepared. The onions were kept aside post frying so that the heat came down. Once they were closer to the room temperature, I added diet Olive Oil Mayonnaise, Hung Curd and a bit of Fat Free Barbecue Sauce in it. Then all the ingredients were mixed while folding sauces into the onions. Then a few drops of olive oil and some of our very own chaat masala and black salt was added. What resulted was a great tasting mayo sauce with the consistency of a dip loaded with subtle Indian flavours. Now was the time to assemble the burgers and the sandwiches.
Now here was the challenge. Someone doesn’t like sauce to be used (though at the end I convinced to taste it at least and it worked and was thankfully liked too), some didn’t want cheese, some didn’t want lettuce and some didn’t want butter….and god knows what not. And it had to be healthy too. Ooooff !!
The Burger assembly line started with Veg Patties Baked in OTG without oil and Buns cut to half and toasted on a frying pan with only a hint of butter. First, the lower part of the toasted bun was topped with a lettuce leaf and a cheese slice. Over it rested the Veg Patty topped up with my specially made Mayo Sauce. Over the sauce, came in a big slice of Tomato and a sprinkle of black pepper. Then it was covered with the top portion of the butter toasted bun. The multigrain sandwich also was assembled with the same process but with a double helping of the sauce, both below and over the patty. The only difference was that the bread was not toasted with butter to let the grains not to lose flavours and qualities.
The recipe and the efforts did pay at the end. The magic of flavours in the sauce did wonders. The glazed creamy texture of the sauce was smooth as silk, the caramalised onions provided that crunch and a mild sweetness. The mayo provided the sourness and the hint of barbecue sauce indicated towards that distinct American flavour. The chaat masala and the black salt gave that Indian touch to the lasting after-taste on to the palate. Each bite had the taste of buttered bun clubbed with the Cheese and enhanced by the flavours of the distinct sauce. Lettuce provided that extra crunch and the tomato gave that tang to the veg Patty. The sauce lifted the entire burger; and the sandwich to the next level of taste- a blend of indo-american flavours. Thankfully no complaints but compliments with an advice to pack the leftover sauce in a separate container to be used later for a quick sandwich or as a dip with nachos or wafers.
The moral of the story is that my focus of seriousness on the sauce paid off and my first weekend breakfast venture succeeded with good grades. The discussion on the breakfast table then revolved around more assembly options for this burger. These were like using a fried egg, or slice(s) of chicken or pork salami, ham or bacon, a slice of cottage cheese and what not . The suggested add ons to the sauce included olives, a dash of garlic paste or garlic powder, coriander leaves, parsley or oregano, a bit more olive oil or some pieces of pineapple or a few seeds of pomegranate etc etc. The fact that the discussion happened over the burger and likely options, indicated that Magic Of Flavours clicked. I am a bit fussy over food, although I never say no to any food tasting. Frankly, I was also impressed with my mayo sauce and its bouquet of flavours packed into it. Happy !!
Now, my mental preparation for the next week starts……any ideas ?
– Rajesh Tara