March 16, 2010

What's cookin', good lookin'?

I love Spring Break - I look forward to having Team Chaos all to myself for an entire week.  I have small things planned for us each day.  Nothing mind-blowing, but just some fun activities that we will enjoy doing together.

In the category of Good News, it seems I have lost 20 lbs since last summer, when I began a consistent exercise routine. The weight loss cannot be contributed solely to exercise, but rather to some small lifestyle changes that were made at the same time I began exercising - namely, the diminished consumption of pinot noir, Coke, parathas and eating out in general.  Sure, I still have the occasional pinot noir, Coke or paratha, but they are treats now.  And we do still eat out, but again, it is a treat and I have made specific reductions in my portions. 

In the category of Bad News, it seems the Week of Guinness and Irish Soda Bread is upon us.  I suspect I will be cutting into that 20 lb weight loss this week.  At least until St. Patrick's Day is over.  Oof.


I did not learn how to cook from my mother or grandmother.  At the precious age of 18,  I learned how to cook from my first serious boyfriend.  And he taught me what he had learned from his mother.  With his being Pakistani, my entrance into the world of cooking was probably a little different than most impressionable freshman girls at the University of Kansas that the winter of 1990. 

It struck me the other day, that I have been cooking this way for 20 years now.  20 years.  Most folks assume that I cook Indian/Pakistani because of Manoj.  And I usually let folks believe that fallacy because it is simpler and does not require explanation.  But truly, the cuisines of the sub-continent of Asia had longed burrowed their way into my heart and kitchen, long before I met Manoj in the fall of 2000.   Shortly after beginning to date Manoj, I bought a book on the cuisine from Kerala, which has nicely rounded things out to my usual North Indian take on things.  It also allowed myself further into Manoj's heart via his stomach because  I am nobody's fool.  Date a Malayalee, learn his food and you are Golden.  And ladies, before you know it, you could also be birthin' yourself a little demi-desi.


What is particularly awesome about Manoj is that he is a foodie.  Period.  And he is willing to try all sorts of cuisine.  I love buying cookbooks and trying new recipes on him.  Despite the stance of no beef or pork in our house, surprisingly, we can still mix it up in our house a bit.

I do not know if my children will grow up hating chicken caponata and chicken saag as much as I hate pork chops and spaghetti.  But I do hope I teach them to taste anything once and to be fearless in their cooking efforts.  Because that's what is so damned enjoyable about cooking - being fearless.  Trying a dish more than once, even if you screw it up the first few times.  Hunting grocery stores for odd ingredients.  Having not one, but two packed cupboards with spices for endless culinary opportunity.  Tweaking recipes for fun and to give them your own touch.

I am not a great cook, nothing masterful.  But I do enjoy cooking and without a doubt, it is far healthier for us to have control over the ingredients and preparation.  And that is one of the greatest gifts I would like to pass to my children.


This is one of my favorite raita recipes.  It is a cilantro/cumin based one, so it is a bit different than what you will find in most Indian buffets.  I have no idea where I got this, but I have been making it for as long as I can remember. When I made it last night, I took careful notes of measurements so that I could share it here.  This would pair nicely with a variety of White People Foods - for example, this would make an excellent side dish for just about anything you would serve off a grill.

My Favorite Raita Recipe
2 cups of yogurt
2 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Mix ingredients together and let sit for at least 30 minutes.


Olivia said...

I know next to nothing about Indian food. Do you eat raita alone, or is it mixed with something?

Miriam said...

What a lovely post! I always need inspiration for cooking, cooking at home, and cooking new things. Perfect! Raita sounds yummy.

Melanie said...

Oh my gosh you hate spaghetti!!!! I was eating a bowl of it when I read your post.... I just cannot imagine (but then again I cannot imagine my world without beef---pork no loss, I rarely use it, but beef.... no way)

I like everything that is in your Raita recipe, but am also wondering how you eat it? Is it a dip?

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

The raita can be used as a "condiment" like dish. If you used it for grilled meat, you could just dip the meat into the raita. And it DOES go well with beef!

Actually, I do LOVE beef - am a Kansas Girl, folks. I just save my consumption for when we do eat out, so it is a treat. I don't like pork, save for pepperoni or bacon.

My main issue with spaghetti is the noodles - I HATE long, stringy noodles (except for vermicelli in Indian desserts.) Too messy!

kreed said...

Do you think that maybe I could just eat at your house everyday? Or maybe convince you to be my personal chef? That just sounds so much easier than using your lovely posted recipes to make it myself.

LuAnn said...

Thanks for the post and the recipe!

Melanie said...

I am not a huge fan of the long stringy noodles either, I like to make spaghetti with penne noodles, the kids eat it much tidier that way as well.