A Taste of Creativity

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Who doesn't love making the perfect dish? Not a second overcooked, not a grain of salt extra, not a single ingredient missing. As much as I would like to be the perfect cook, life always has other plans for me! What of inviting a team member home during the graveyard shift, after a 15 hour slog marathon at the office, only to find my dear hostel mates, have finished off everything cooked and uncooked in the kitchen! What of the consistent, unbreakable habit, of entering the kitchen, and then getting possessed by the desire to cook something, I saw somewhere or heard about! What of the defiance -- albeit disapproving clucking of perfectionists -- of cooking WITHOUT making that trip to the store down the street for a critical spice. What of the feeling of the gleeful triumph when the dishes turn out delicious anyway.

Necessity is the mother of all invention. Resourcefulness is divine. Creativity rules. Cooking is a high for those willing to look beyond the obvious! At this point, I must say, that this post is dedicated to some very innovative friends -Prithwis (see yantrajaal), Madhu, & Arindam! We've had many interesting discussions, debates, and experiments with teaching and learning creativity. Arindam had introduced cooking as one of the activities for the creativity workshop in our company, and the title of this post is the same as the name for his activity!

Ginger Butter Nut Squash Kozhambu made with Jahe Wangi - instant Indonesian ginger tea.

1 tbsp of sesame oil
a pinch of asafoetida
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp urad dal (black gram)
8 - 10 curry leaves
2 dry red chillies
1/2 a butter nut squash chopped
2 tbsp of tamarind paste
2 cups of water
1 tsp Sambar Powder
Salt to taste
Mystery ingredient”: 1 sachet of Jahe Wangi - instant Indonesian Ginger Tea
Heat oil. Fry mustard seeds, asafoetida, urad dal. When mustard seeds pop, and dal turns red, add the curry leaves, and broken red chillies and swish. Now tamarind paste, water, sambar powder, salt and boil. Next add the squash, and continue boiling till tender. Add a packet of the tea and boil for few more minutes. Add a little water to desired consistency, as the kozambu should not be very thick like a paste, and neither watery. Serve this with hot cooked white rice and a dollop of ghee!

The first time I made this at our hostel, I added a piece of til chikki (sesame toffee), instead of instant ginger tea! We'd buy these chikkis while walking home from the office for a rupee, from the potti kadai (literally means 'box-shop’ or a small shop the size of a box). The traditional recipe called for sesame, and jaggery, and I had neither. There was no point buying these ingredients either, as they were not used in everyday cooking at the hostel. It’s fun and now become a hobby to keep looking for substitutes for the mystery ingredient. Just one small ingredient changed, resulted in many varied flavors and varieties of gojjus and tamarind kozambus. Luckily most have been tasty, and very few failures (don’t try adding chewing gum!)

By the way on that fateful grave yard shift episode - my colleague and I relished bread pizzas with a topping of besan . Read, nothing more than a hastily stirred besan (gram flour) paste with salt and pepper :-(. Since my kind hostel mates had even finished off the last crystal of sugar in the kitchen, I landed up making sweet lassi with Glaxo’s glucose powder from my trekking kit in the rucksack! I think we were too tired and hungry to care, but my colleague insists that it was "not bad at all and in fact quiet delicious" !


YOSEE said...

Aha ! Jahe Wangi !! Hit me like a blast from the past !!! Had almost forgotten it !...But Kuzhambu out of it ! Inspired Creativity at its best ! Congrats.....sounds yummy . In league with Pati's orange peel gojju.

YOSEE said...

And know what ! That Besan flour can be quite a life saver, in fact in the good old Meenakshi Ammal books ( the "Bible" of brahmanaal saapaadu ! ), theres one entry called " Daangar pacchadi " which is made of besan paste and curds, in absence of any decent pacchadfifying veggies !

Madhumalti said...

wow! thanks for the mention and credit! sounds delicious - would love to eat it when you make it!

LG said...

Jahe Wangi! never heard of it :( nevertheless the kuzhambu looks awesome and hats off to your creativity in kitchen ;) you have some really interesting recipes on your blog..

LG said...

btw..enable coment moderation or else spam comments will start coming in..just a suggestion :)

Shreya said...

Amazing dish. Unique, never had it before, or heard of it. Looks wonderful.:-)

A_and_N said...

nice use of butternut squash! the kuzhambu looks nice!

Priti said...

That's a interesting recipe...looks nice ....Gud inspiration work !

Something new to me. First time here. U have a nice blog.

Madhuram said...

That's definitely a creative combination. Who would have thought about tea in a sambar.