Grill’n and Chill’n

GrillnChillnSummer is here, with hot afternoons, bright colors and happy faces. Parties are in full swing with grilled food and chilled drinks. Memorial Day at the end of May is the start of the grilling season.

Grilling is an All-American tradition. It is a method of cooking food at high heat over direct flames. Grilling is different from bar-b-que.  Bar-b-que is cooking marinated foods at temperatures between 200 and 300 degrees F. Grilling is about cooking foods at very high heat, well above 400 degrees F. Most barbeque sauces are tomato and sugar based and will burn if they are used for grilling.

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Fruitfully Yours

tomatoesI have fond memories of my early years in Kanpur, India. Situated on the banks of the Ganges, Kanpur was as fertile as it could be. Our home had crisp green lawns with roses of every hue. My favorite pastime in the summer months was counting the number of tomatoes on the vine, which stretched on to the side walls of the house. I remember admiring the red plump fruit against the faded brown wall. While my dad brought home red juicy apples and healthy bunches of grapes, mom would cut a bowl of fresh tomatoes and sprinkle a little sugar, for us to eat. This was when I fell in love with fruits.

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Hot Sandwiches For A Cold Winter Afternoon

[The post below first appeared in India Currents magazine. This is my original unedited, longer version. Enjoy!]

Sour dough with garden burger and more
Grilled veggie burger on Sour dough with Pepper Jack cheese

I looked outside through my kitchen window at the cloudy cold day. I remembered the vegetable sandwiches mom would make for us, she would smear 2 slices of bread with butter and add the vegetable of the day – spicy beans or hot chole, or potato fry  in between and toasted it on a hot skillet. It tasted awesome.

“Want to get a Hot sandwich break” I said my husband.
He jumped at the offer. As we were driving trying to figure out the best places that made a good sandwich – TOGOs, nah! Quiznos –like it but been there too many times. I asked him what he wants, he said “your chutney sandwich” – toasted warm wheat bread spread with spicy homemade tomato chutney, layered with pepper jack cheese, warm sautéed onions and bell peppers, a layer of grilled chicken…

Continue reading Hot Sandwiches For A Cold Winter Afternoon

Are You Ready for Takeoff?

Welcome to “Cooking Mastery”, where we will explore, discover and enjoy food and cooking, that’s simply out of this world!

Food is my passion. It’s not just the cooking that matters to me, but the flavors, aromas, colors, textures, taste, techniques, cuisines; well, just about everything that there is, to know and experience!

Cooking to me is a form of therapy. I get instant gratification, when I see the happiness in the faces of people I teach and serve. When you cook a meal, you are fulfilling someone’s core need as a human being. The satisfaction is simply priceless!

This is a place for the “foodies” amongst us to share our passion for cooking. For the rest of us who are either new to cooking, or find it hard to get excited about it day after day, I hope you will find a moment of inspiration or encouragement!

Happy Cooking!
Praba

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The Rise of King Corn

CornNative Americans call it the food of the gods that created the earth. Corn has an important place in history. Its origin dates back to 5000 years and takes us to Mexico.

With the shocking prices of rice and wheat at Indian stores, I have consciously begun to include makki ki roti (corn roti) into our weekly menu. Corn flour is abundant and a healthy substitute for other staples.

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Blips and Bites of Life

This occasional post will be on everything under the sun except food and cuisine…. It is my thoughts on life, living, politics and people.

I wrote this post back in 2004. We don’t know how a simple human being can impact us until we miss them.

Love You Mom!

It was a clear California morning, I sat down with my cup of tea, wondering if my mom would have liked this house. For the past several years, mom was a part of every major decision we had made. She would have said, “It’s very spacious, its like our Patambi (ancestral) house, I like it”. She would never say anything negative to your face. Being with her, I had learnt to read between the lines at a very early age.

Like the word “spacious” meant a few things “do you really need this big space, you will have to clean it, its more work you”.

Continue reading Blips and Bites of Life

Hot Sandwiches on Cold Winter Days

[Note: This article was published in India Currents Magazine in Feb 2008. Excerpted here….]

I looked through my kitchen window and could feel the chill. My husband was plugging away on his laptop in the office room. I peeked in and asked, “Shall we go out to lunch?” He jumped at the offer. We debated where to go. Where could we get a nice, toasty sandwich? We thought about a few fast, casual places we both knew, but none sounded quite right for a cold afternoon. Then my husband asked, “How about that chutney sandwich?” “Oh!” I said, “You mean the one with warm wheat bread, spread with spicy homemade tomato chutney, layered with pepper jack cheese, sautéed onions and bell peppers, and a layer of grilled chicken?”

Read the rest of this article here…

Remembering Mom

Mom's Recipe in TamilWe all have our own special ways of remembering people. Some of us have photos, writings or clothing to keep memories alive. Cooking keeps me connected to my mom. She was an extraordinary human being as well as a fabulous cook.

Our home was the hub for extended family’s vacations, job hunts, festival seasons and weddings. My mom made sure that anyone who walked into our house never left hungry. Food was always available, well prepared and on time. Her philosophy on cooking was simple and I follow that to this day

-Cook food with love, people will enjoy it no matter what. Food cooked with negative emotions never digests well.

Here are some of mom’s favorite recipes: Continue reading Remembering Mom

Caribbean Calypso

Caribbean IslandsBeautiful turquoise beaches, sky scraping palm trees, silver sands, glistening sunlight and romantic sunsets: the Caribbean Islands are a colorful treat for our eyes, and their cuisine is equally something to relish. There are more than 7000 islands in the Caribbean plate, that we call the West Indies.

The early inhabitants of the islands were from the northern part of South America. Their cuisine included corn, cassava, squash yams and sweet potatoes along with an extensive selection of seafood. Eventually ravaged by disease and their conquest by the Spaniards, English and French, most of the early inhabitants were wiped out. The native cuisine, called Creole, was influenced by European, African and Spanish cuisines.

One toasty Sunday afternoon, we had a few friends over for a Caribbean party. Here is a peek at the menu. Enjoy! Continue reading Caribbean Calypso

Fusion Food: Cooking without Borders

One Friday evening we went out to try a new restaurant with a friend. Our friend was curious about the cuisine. I told her they had some interesting dishes and she exclaimed, “Please don’t say Fusion – it feels like the chef has a hand in all the pots, and does not have a clue where he belongs!” That sparked an interesting conversation.

Black Pepper Ice CreamFusion marries 2 or more ingredients, from 2 different cuisines, and creates a new dish that compliments the individual flavors and ingredients. Many centuries ago when the Chinese came to America, the Africans moved to Europe and the East Indians and French learned to dine together, fusion was born.

Today, this blending of cuisines has gained momentum. This is the new trend in many metropolitan cities around the world. This New World Cuisine requires a great deal of creativity and knowledge on the part of the chef, to come up with a dish that incorporates entirely different cuisines. The world is truly flat, when it comes to Fusion food.

Continue reading Fusion Food: Cooking without Borders