Kitchen with no hassles

Have always been impressed by the Japanese style of uncluttered homes! Saw pictures in magazines and now a chance to see them first hand.

Anyway, I have been thinking about how our own kitchens can be organized better. I really do not want to stress on modular kitchens, or small Mumbai kitchens specifically. Any kitchen with an active cook, according to me, should have the focal point where the stove is (gas burner, electric burner etc) and so shall everything remain leashed to this point – you want to have things within reach especially those things that you use the most. Rest of the things put them in the periphery of vision. But a big ‘no’ to have the oil and spices in plain view. Well, you can buy the fancy containers but I would still tell you to put these two things inside a cupboard because these things are best kept in the innards of a dark cupboard. Keeps the quality and flavours going for a longer time.

I can say for myself that I love researching new appliances and then acquiring them! Well, if there is a need and space, then why not? There are so many tempting things that are creatively made to make things easier. Mount them on racks or slip under the shelf. Another space saver is a big spoon holder that allows smaller spoons in the periphery and long handled ladles etc in the centre. These are the things that get mixed up in drawers and one search for the right spoon can test the patience of a good man. If at all you like to organize things in a drawer, get one with separators. So in go the knives in one slot, forks in another, spoons in yet another! And yes, such drawers are also a blessing in the clothes cupboard because they keep the handkerchiefs away from the socks and save you oodles of search time. The fridge and freezer have door shelves. Good place to hide keys but also wonderful to keep small things like bottle openers and can openers, straws, cling film (keeping a roll in the freezer keeps the loose end always ready to pull and use!). Use this space to stack small items that will easily get lost in the deep shelves.

I get transported to the kitchen very easily, don’t I? Well, to give you some nice things to cook up if you are in your kitchen….how about…Alu Kachalu Chaat, Nariyal Puri, Kaju aur Moti Pulao.

In Dubai this weekend for a live show. Will post the details in a day or so.

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Kitchen safety and hygiene, importance of summer

I am in Tokyo enjoying some chilly winds! It is 8 deg and I guess all my talk about eating right for summer suddenly becomes more relevant as India is facing a good summer!
I would like to take up a bit of the HACCP points. The trainer Trupti Bhat made us alert about looking for the ‘date of manufacture’ AND ‘date of best before’ on all products that we purchase. Both should be printed, if it is from a reliable company. Another thing she pointed out is about storing foods as per the instructions on the pack. If the masala packet says store in airtight container once opened, it means that. It is not such a good idea to keep the masala box as it is open in the freezer or in the cupboard. Another aspect she stressed was the hygiene level in the kitchen. Like using tea strainers that are clogged or blackened or simply not clean enough to look as good as new. Important points and I am sure all of you will make use of them. The list is actually long with the chopping board that need to be disinfected, the dish clothes that need to be dried in the sunlight etc.

Summers now are not as bad as a decade ago for the fruit market. Thanks to the world becoming smaller, we have a variety of fruits: grapes are visible, so are oranges and chiku, papaya, muskmelon, watermelon, pineapple, apples, pears, sweet limes..in fact, we have a vast choice. Oranges in fact help us to accept the heat! You could probably make a cooling Narangi Shorba which has the goodness of oranges. Well, oranges do sometimes get into a soup! Or for a heavier version (not a la Sumo!) try the Lemon and Tortilla soup, which boasts of pretty strips of tortilla, cooked to perfection in a lemony stock. The theme seems to be leaning toward Vitamin C! Which is essential in summer. Soon we could be gorging on a gorgeously different mango (this King of Fruits definitely makes its presence felt!) and coconut ice-cream.
Light dinners could mean a lovely Methi Chaman Biryani with long basmati in contrast with paneer and corn niblets and a handful each of methi leaves, coriander leaves and mint leaves and fried onions and chopped tomatoes and what-have-you masalas. Dip into some mixed veg raita with this and sweet slumber beckons. How would you like to scroll down to see some cooling recipes that use fruits in detail?
Banana Yogurt Custard, Crunchy Fruits Yogurt and Cheese, Shrikhand Biscuit Pudding.

Happy Summer!
Sanjeev Kapoor.

No onion no garlic is in demand, Hooray for salads

My team is busy with a one day awareness course on HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) – more details later as there are points in this which a home kitchen can benefit from immensely.

As a growing organization we see new faces practically every month now. All thanks to the efforts of Sabita Shekhar who has been our “HR” department for the last few months. One woman army. She leaves us today for a good purpose. Everything in the recent past has had her stamp of working style. Sabi, your contribution to the organisation is immense and we all acknowledge it.

I have been swamped with rah rahs for salads! It’s great that many of you have written in appreciating the greatness of a salad for lunch. In fact I would love to share some lesser known secrets of a good salad that I have come across. Did you know that some place a saucer upside down in the bottom of the salad bowl before filling with salad? Excess moisture will run underneath the saucer and this will help keep the salad crisp and fresh. Here’s another one – to give a subtle garlic flavour to salad, cut a flake of garlic and rub the inside of the salad bowl with the cut surface. If beetroot is to be used in any salad, toss it in just before serving the salad or its colour will run into other ingredients. If all these sound familiar read this from an enterprising young lady – try using ice cream cones to serve salads and cut fruits, etc. to your food finicky toddler.

Another great demand is for food without onions and garlic. Giving you three delicious dishes here.

Thank God It’s Saturday, but well, thank God it’s summer too because it gives you a chance to try out delicious cooling drinks that many a parched throat would welcome…try khus syrup with lemon juice, or kairi panna or the good old sweet lassi! Make it differently with a drop of lemon and sweetened with honey instead of sugar. Nice and nutritious! Any of these in lieu of your late afternoon cup of tea is a wonderful idea. For munchies, a bhel or a soft salad sandwich would be ideal. Once you refill yourself at five then a light dinner around eight or so will wind up the day. I will develop some summer dinner ideas over the week end.

Till then, try Jain Dal Makhni, Jain Punjabi Chole, Jain Paneer Makhni. All are yum!

Sanjeev Kapoor.