IMG_0438.JPGWaking up to the Harbour bridge and staying in a studio apartment overlooking the Lavender Bay got me addicted to living in a lovely place and living on my own. Ever since I got back, moving to such a place has been on my mind. Recently, I came across a lovely studio apartment with a gorgeous window seat. The view is nothing spectacular, but the window seat stole my heart and bum space. What’s more, I have surprised myself by really taking to cooking. From jugaad cooking in Sydney (read toast, greek yogurt topped with bhujia), I have now progressed to learning to cook real food.

The first step was of course, being brave enough to stock up on the spices and putting together a kitchen from scratch. I picked up salt, chili powder, pepper, dhaniya, garam masala, turmeric, and sugar. Also picked up a tin of virgin olive oil (I love the Figaro packaging), maggi coconut powder (ready mix for coconut milk) and some ginger garlic paste. Half a kilo each of tomato and onions, 300 grams of brinjal and bhindi (ambitious!) made it to the grocery bag as well.

For the time being, I’m equipped with an electric stove, a hand me down mixie, and an air fryer. A couple of simple recipes I tried out this week:

Brinjal masala

Add 2-3 teaspoons of oil to the pan, and heat till you see bubbles begin to form. Add a pinch of garam masala, turmeric, and dhaniya powder to the oil – I have big fingers, and a pinch would be as much as the toothpaste you squeeze out of the tube to brush your teeth. Fun comparisons, eh. Add two 50 paise coin sized blobs of ginger garlic paste. Mix it all in and don’t let the masalas go brown (that means it’s burnt and you have to start over again). Chop onions and add them to this mix; push them around till the turn translucent as an oily window.

Dice brinjals and add to this mix. Stir till the brinjals are coated with the spices. Cover the cooking vessel with a lid and cook on low flame, if you want it to be a mash (you’ll have to uncover the lid later and mash it with the ladle). Add salt as per taste.

For the other brinjal in the picture, I just scored the inside of the brinjal with little X marks, and rubbed in all the above spices. Massaged it with olive oil, wrapped it in foil and stuck it in the air fryer for 15-20 minutes on 200. The skin was nice and burnt, and the insides were creamy. I’m thinking I’m going to try and replicate a babaganoush  with the insides next time.

Bhindi pyaaz

Follow the first paragraph of the above recipe. Dice ladies finger and add to the mix. Do not cover the cooking vessel with a lid as this will make it gooey. Toss it around till the the existing gooey stuff evaporates, and it begins to shrivel and brown at the edges. Taste one to see if it’s cooked – these are deceptive! Add salt to taste.

Mushroom coconut curry

Follow the first paragraph of the first recipe. Add diced tomatoes (or tomato puree) and cook till the oil separates. Pour 1/2 cup of water and when the mix begins to boil, add the chopped mushrooms. Now, I personally prefer to break the mushrooms with my hand instead of chopping them – this gives me nice chunky bits of juicy mushrooms. Add salt as per taste. Once the mushrooms are well cooked, take 1/2 cup of water in a cup, and add 2 tbsps coconut powder to it. Mix well till the lumps disappear, and pour into the gravy. Cook till the gravy becomes thick. I sometimes mix in a tablespoon or two of thai green curry paste, just after I add the tomatoes, if I am craving a green curry flavour.

Now, I do not know how to make rotis and I am not a big fan of rice. I’ve been sticking to couscous and it works very well with all the above.