For quite a while now, friends have been asking me to blog about food; after all it’s one of my passions and that which I was trained and qualified in. My professors at HAFT (Sophia Polytechnic) who trained me in both hotel administration and culinary arts were masters in their own right.
So what finally pushed me over to blog about food? Ever so often, I come across people who just don’t know how to cook, mainly because they have never tried. Cooking does not require genius it just requires passion and most people would do well to flip open a cook book with simple recipes and experiment with small portions. Make a pickle, chutney or just a soup for starters and then let the magic take over.
My first tryst with teaching people to cook was in the seminary when I conducted a week long crash course for the professors and seminarians. The idea was to empower those who did not know how to cook to be able to rustle up simple dishes and not starve in their parochial houses. The seminary ended with the participants cooking “Indian Chinese” for the community of a hundred strong.
My first recipe is garlic chutney. It was made and sent to me by my neighbour, Surekha, who prepared this with steaming theplas, a gujarati bhakri or roti which has finely chopped fenugreek leaves (methi) with coriander (dhaniya) turmeric, garlic, curd and sesame seeds.
I love garlic in my food but this hardy bulb vegetable also has a number of health benefits in its raw form; though I dare say you may not make many friends after consuming it raw. They say that “Shallots are for babies; onions are for men; garlic is for heroes.” The flavour of garlic when roasted or on a butter naan or bread is certainly one that sets any one salivating.” Careful though how much you consume, for they say that ” garlic makes a man wink, drink and stink”
Garlic chutney (to be eaten with thepla or bread or turn it into a salad dressing with olive oil)
Garlic (skin off obviously) 25 large flakes
Jeera (cumin) 1 table spoon
Chilli powder 2 tablespoons you could add half more if you like it spicy
Rock salt 1 tablespoon
Refined oil to mix
Begin by pounding the cumin seeds in stone or metal pounder. When coarse add in the rock salt and blend together. Throw in the garlic and continue to pound the ingredients, adding finally the chilli powder. To blend this all into a thick paste, add oil.You could make the chutney coarse or pound the garlic into a paste.
Resist the temptation to do all of this in a blender; it just does not taste the same. You could refrigerate the chutney but it always tastes better when made fresh.
Fr Warner D’Souza