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A great and enjoyable cook-up

Monday, November 08, 2010

The F-Word by Mita Kapur is an interesting book that almost reads like the diary of mother scurrying about and just about managing to look after immediate family, parents, in-laws and friends.

Chhoti Mamma (name given by pleasant nephew) has daughters Sakshi and Resham, son Rehan, spouse Bunny, her own Mummy, her sisters, nephews, nieces, and a whole pack of in-laws in tow. It also explores a very sensitive mother-daughter situation. The binding ingredient of this wonderfully extended family is FOOD.

So what you have here are anecdotal hilarious situations interspersed with a delectable array of well-written recipes that cover appetizers, soups and salads, sauces, chutneys and classic mayonnaise, pies and cakes, malpua and puran poli. The main courses range from biryanis to tamarind rice, with some popular and some exotic vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

Cooking is done to pander to the umpteen fussy taste-buds, to mollify the disgruntled, to sneak vegetables past the mouths of the nibblers who seem allergic to the simple fare of dal and potatoes.

’We have different grades of battles, Sakshi and I. Food is the biggest of them all. We fence over her excessive fondness for eggs, bread, mutton, biscuits, chocolate, and sukhi roti...Bunny clips her nose between his fingers and drains a bowl of curd into her mouth – even now, when she is all of seventeen years old.’

Preparing Yakhni Pulao, Hyderabadi Biryani, and UP’s popular Arhar Dal Tahiri are interestingly detailed but one simple tongue-tickling delight is Tamarind Rice: 400 gm cooked rice, 50 gm each of tamarind, chana dal and urad dal, 150 ml oil, one teaspoon each of mustard seeds, turmeric, black pepper, a pinch of hing, 20 gm dry red chillies de-seeded, two sprigs of curry leaves, a piece of ginger, a glass of water. Soak the tamarind in the water and then extract the pulp. Roast the chana dal, urad dal, red chillies separately and grind to a coarse powder. Heat oil, add the hing, mustard seeds, pepper, turmeric, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves, and sauté for a minute. Add the tamarind extract, powdered dals and salt. Cook till the water dries up. Add to the rice, mix well and serve. This reviewer tried it and was happy. Food for the body and for the mind.

The F-Word by Mita Kapur

Price Rs.599

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