These days, this cookery writer is spending more time developing recipes in his home kitchen. He tells MW about his favourite ingredients, recipe sources and more.
- After my post-graduation in English Literature, I started writing for a food magazine. All the recipes we carried would be tried out either in our test kitchen or at home. The magazine shut down, but I couldn’t shake off the habit and continued cooking at home. Even now, when I share a recipe to go with an article I write for a newspaper or magazine, I ensure that I have tested it at home.
- I started my Instagram gallery as a memory of the dishes I would make, but slowly it turned into something I wanted to pursue. I’m really interested in the mechanics of how a dish is made. Chefs are taught this, but for me it’s something I picked up over time.
- My first dish was probably pasta that I cooked at the age of 16. I could make Maggi before that, but that hardly counts.
- My earliest food memory is of sitting on my late grandmother’s kitchen countertop and just watching the chaos while everyone went about their work.
Five kitchen essentials according to me are — a good quality soy sauce, a well-stocked spice cupboard with Indian as well as Middle Eastern condiments, pickles, a good mezzaluna to make cutting and chopping a breeze, and a range of condiments and sauces to transform any dish.
- My favourite restaurants in Mumbai are Eddie’s, Shizusan and The Bombay Canteen.
- My best meal ever was at a Japanese restaurant called Katsuya in Dubai that shut down and is currently in the process of reopening. One of the meals I aspire to have is at David Chang’s Momofuku, and of course, when the occasion presents itself, Noma.
- I regularly scour blogs and websites like Good Food, Olive, Delicious, Bon Appetit, Serious Eats, Food 5 and the supplements from The Guardian and The New York Times. Some of the chefs who I admire are Ruby Tandoh, Raymond Blanc, Yotam Ottolenghi and also the food writer Nigel Slater.
- I always promote using fresh, seasonal ingredients from local sabzi mandis over imported avocados etc. Indian sabzi and roti are more nutritious than any other meal. I love the challenge of making these humble ingredients look attractive. I almost feel like the PR guy for them.
Cold Noodle Salad With Ginger Oil, Kimchi Dressing and Soft-Boiled Eggs
- 250 gm Soba or Udon noodles
- 1-inch grated ginger
- 1/4th cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp mirin or 1/2 tbsp sugar plus
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 3 tbsp kimchi
- 2 tbsp kimchi juice
- 2 spring onions, green parts only
- 1 green cucumber, julienned
- 1 carrot, julienned
- Lightly toasted sesame seeds
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 eggs
- Start by making the ginger oil. In a small pan, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil for a minute and add the grated ginger. Turn the heat down immediately and let the ginger simmer in the oil for two minutes before taking it off the heat. Cook the noodles and flash them in cold water after draining. Toss them with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. In a pan, whisk together 1-2 tbsp of the ginger oil, the kimchi, its liquid and the mirin. You can whisk the noodles in with this mixture and keep it chilled till you’re ready to serve. Season if necessary.
- Before serving, slice the spring onion greens thinly and shock them in a bowlful of cold water to make them curl up. This also helps maintain their crunch.
- Bring a small pot of water to boil with a lid on. When the water is boiling, lower the eggs carefully and let them boil uncovered for exactly 6 and a half minutes. Keep an ice bath ready for the eggs on the side. Fish each egg out and swiftly transfer to the ice bath. Peel the eggs and place them on top of the noodles with the drained scallion greens, the julienned cucumbers and carrots. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on top and finish with a spritz of lemon juice.
- 1 head Chinese cabbage
- 100 gm coarse salt
For the Kimchi paste
- 75 gm Gochugaru chilli powder
- OR a mix of 50 gm Kashmiri red chilli powder and 25 gm spicy red chilli powder
- 1 finely chopped leek
- 12-15 cloves
- crushed garlic
- 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 100 gm grated radish
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- Slice the head of the cabbage into half and peel back layer by layer of leaf. In a large bowl, place each leaf and sprinkle a bit of the coarse salt. Do this till you have a pile of salted leaves in the bowl.
- Fill the bowl with water and keep it standing overnight on the counter, with a heavy weight on top to keep the leaves immersed in the brine.
- The next day, rinse the cabbage leaves in cold water and drain the water. Taste one leaf for salt. You can adjust the amount of salt in the kimchi paste depending on this.
- For the kimchi paste, stir together the chilli powder, leek, garlic, ginger, radish, fish sauce, sugar and salt in the bowl. Add 1-2 tbsp of water to turn it into a spreadable paste.
- Starting with the larger leaves, spread about 1 tbsp of the chilli paste on the surface of each leaf. Place another leaf on top and continue till you have used up all the leaves.
- Tuck the long sides of the cabbage parcel inwards and carefully transfer the kimchi into a large, airtight container. Transfer the container to the fridge and taste the kimchi after a week.