Friday, June 24, 2005

Meme: The Cook Next Door

I've been tagged by Mika for my very first meme! I have enjoyed reading this meme on other blogs, and am thrilled to share my own version with you. So here goes-

What's your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
My parents loved to entertain, and my mother would organize dinner parties for 30-40 people, and one of my first jobs was to make fruit salad for such a party. On other days, our long-time cook Anji (we consider her a family member) often recruited me as a sous-chef, to do small jobs like peeling vegetables and mashing potatoes. When I was about 14 and moved in with my aunt to study in Bombay, she trusted me enough to let me use her kitchen freely. I remember making spaghetti, ragda-patties (called aloo-tikki in other parts of India), saag paneer as my early tried-and-tested dishes. I even typed them into a little cook-book in MS Word and distributed copies among some friends! All in all, the seeds for this blog were sown early on.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
All the wonderful women in my family. My mother works full time but always found time to make birthday cakes, special dinners, treats for the lunch-box and throw lavish dinner parties at home. My grandmom is an great cook too; she is known for her meat specialties (which I stopped eating when I turned vegetarian at the age of 14), and for her hand-molded chocolates. Many of my aunts are people whose hands simply have the gift of turning out great food day after day. Anji, the lovely lady who cooks lunch in my parents' home, invented "cooking under fire" before anyone thought of making that show! She cooks in 5-6 households everyday and her meals sustained me growing up. My current influences are all the wonderful bloggers out there, amateur cooks who amaze me with their creativity and skill. I learn from them every day.

Do you have an old photo as "evidence" of an early exposure to the culinary world?
All my birthday photos growing up are evidence of the culinary expertise in my family. My parents would bake and lavishly decorate a cake for my sister and me for each and every birthday. They came up with the most creative ideas. My first birthday cake was a merry-go-round. Other cakes have been a swimming pool (complete with swimmers), a summer hat, butterflies etc.

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
Desserts (other than simple cakes) make me panic when I see the amount of sugar and butter that goes in! I think I would rather just buy them from a patesserie and remain blissfully unaware of the caloric content :)

What are your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
I LOVE my Braun immersion blender...I think it is so much value for money. I use it for pureeing soups, making batters and beating eggs. The pressure cooker is certainly another gadget I cannot live without, for quick pilafs and cooking dals and beans. The biggest letdown was the "Turbo Cooker" :D, an As seen on TV gadget that I bought for a ridiculous amount of money. What can I say, I'm a sucker!!

Biggest disappointment?
I once tried making paneer from supermarket cottage cheese. Boy that was a sorry mess and a waste of good cottage cheese! In cooking the mess a good non-stick pan was ruined. Never again.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else does.
This is not really weird, but I love potato chips with dal-rice.

What are the three edibles or dishes you simply don't want to live without?
Potato chips. Instant Noodles. Doritos. I'm a bad, bad girl.

Your favorite ice-cream
It is an ice cream sundae called "Special Cocktail" served by one "Imperial Ice Cream Parlor" in my home town of Kolhapur. They take a tall glass and layer chunks of fruits and nuts, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a scoop of rose ice cream, cubes of jelly, with mango smoothie poured on top. I don't have a sweet tooth at all but "Special Cocktail" rocks!

You will definitely never eat...
Foie Gras. Caviar. Miracle Whip (Have you read the ingredients on a can of Miracle Whip? The only miracle is that it is edible).

Your own signature dish...
These days it is the Sri Lankan egg curry that I have already posted in April. It is always requested by friends who are coming over, and the pot is always licked clean. It takes about 10 minutes to make, but hush, don't tell anyone.

My own added question...

What is your most memorable meal?
When I was about 10 yrs old, my parents and a bunch of their friends took all their families to the sea-side resort town of Goa for a vacation. Back then, Goa was about seafood and ONLY about seafood! I hated the smell of fish and basically starved for a week, only eating French fries. When we were driving back, we stopped for lunch at a tiny cafeteria that served plate meals. They had a meal of plain boiled rice with yellow dal with a squeeze of lemon juice. I ate and ate and ate. That's got to be my most delicious meal ever.


  1. Your favorite ice cream sounds like a Falooda, yum! Thanks for playing along Nupur.

  2. dear nupur , that was a nice walk down memory lane ......i reminisce with great fondness all the happy meals we shared together , the 'pahilya wafecha waran bhat'[our 'hot' favourite steaming dal rice which took exactly 5 minutes to cook in my efficient cooker], the exotic concoctions we loved to try our much patronised udupi restt, isckon chhappan bhog thali[a meal for the gods with no less then 56 dishes] ...the list is endless.
    and you must also share with yr friends the lil poem made by kash on yr culinary expertise during yr school days sister is a 'cooker' with complete sound effects of whistles etc.
    all the best and bon appetit!yoma.

  3. oh i forgot to add prithvi theatre with its arty openair restt ,our mini meals of bhel and sevpuri,not to forget our staple diet of wafers and pepsi ........i could really go on and on.
    so nupur pl come back soon to where you started off- my 'experimental' kitchen. we are both [my kitchen and i] waiting for your mighty presence...yoma.

  4. I like memes like this... you get to know so much more about people :) It was fun to read this post, Nupur. By the way, I'm curious - what was the Turbo Cooker supposed to do that it didnt?

  5. Hey Mika, this sundae is like a falooda but without the vermicelli and seeds...the ice cream is made the old fashioned way which is the secret to great taste methinks.

    Hi Yoma, whoa, we are true-blue foodies, aren't we? :) thats the stuff that memories are made of! You have treated me to so many wonderful meals...I hope you can visit me and I can do the same.

    Hi Shammi, thanks for stopping by! About the turbo cooker, it just was another pot u know...nothing spectacular about the cooking speed or anything. Plus the non-stick coating wore off in a matter of months. sigh.

  6. Hi Nupur,

    Thank you for your lovely entry :) The "Special Cocktail" not only sounds intriguing, I can almost picture it...unfortunately the Imperial Ice Cream Parlor is likely to be few thousand miles away...

    Since I've seen the question being raised a few times, please feel free to tag two more people ;) The current map & development are here at:

    All the best-

  7. Nupur, Thanks for tagging me and I'll get on to it.

    Loved reading about you. Interesting that I also count the hand blender and the pressure cooker as my most indispensable gadgets.

  8. Nupur, I really enjoyed reading your post, beautifullly written! It's really interesting to get some insight in one's culinary background.
    And thanks for tagging me, my answers are up.


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