When I was a child my hobby was to paint and dance. As I grew up and stepped into my adolescence dance turned from a hobby to a passion. I had performed in various festivals, stage shows, TV shows, school and college fests. Painting was no more a hobby, but I still draw at times, just to feel happy. I left Kolkata almost a year and a half back. Leaving Kolkata had a great toll on me, I had to leave out my dance session, which I had been attending for the last 20 years. The last time I danced on stage was back in winter 2006.
But there was another hobby which was in its nascent stage some two years back and for which I spend a good percentage of my monthly money these days. This hobby started even before I became a full time cook in my kitchen (here to note, I still don’t have what I can call my own kitchen, but still need to be satisfied with the small kitchen in my rented apartment) and a food blogger. Coming back to my new but not so new hobby, collecting cook books.
I have a plethora of these cook books now. From Sanjeev Kapoor to Tarla Dalal and Roz Denny to old worn out books of multiple authors; books written in English and also in Bengali, my mother tongue. Every year I used to visit Kolkata Book Fair and my task was to search for the most recent and the oldest cook books being sold. I have bought books of well known publishers like Duncan Baird Publishers (London), Popular Prakashan (Mumbai) and also from the not so known publishers.
Now that I am away from Kolkata, the annual book fair is almost out of question to visit, so I visit all the book stalls here in Bangalore and peek into the culinary sections of these stores. I have got books starting from INR 10 to few that were quite a burden to my wallet. Of all these books that I bought, the one that I felt very happy in buying was “The Big Book of Great British Recipes“. This book has got 365 delicious and treasured recipes, as the book cover says. But the reason of my being happy in buying this book was something different. The book is sold at 625 INR in India, but the copy I have had cost me only 50 INR because of a little tear on its cover. It was like getting a treasure for almost nothing. The book is really great.
Another book in line is written in Bengali, which my mom gifted. It has a whopping collection of 1001 recipes from East Bengal (presently Bangladesh) and West Bengal (eastern state in India, where I hail from). I treasure my books above everything, and whenever I am alone and have got nothing to do I just go through them. It brings me immense pleasure to see the colorful photographs and the passion the cook has put in to prepare those dishes. Though I have not tried much of the recipes from these books, but they have made me realize the basic difference in the different styles of cooking.
Books from professional cooks have the exact amount of the ingredients and the time of cooking mentioned in every recipe and also a note from the cook as a recommendation from him or her to make the dish taste better. Another very important aspect of all cook books is the photograph they feature. Though the cheap books have very few or no photos of the cooked food, the not so cheap books have a whacking number of food photographs in them. It is a general tendency I have noticed in me, to read those recipes having photographs, I think you will also agree to that.
That was a lot of writing from my side today. I hope you loved the discussion. I would appreciate if you pen down some lines on the type of books you have at home and how they have helped to bring out the cook in you.
To come to recipe for the day, it is a very simple one; my mom cooks it as a side dish along with rice and dal.
Okra (Bhindi): 100 gms
Potato (Alu): 100 gms or 2 medium sizes
Onion (Peyaj): 2 medium sizes
Green chili (Kacha Lanka): 2
Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
Sunflower oil (Saada tel): 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
- Cut the potatoes in thin long pieces of length 2 inches each
- Similarly cut the ladies finger into halves with 2 inches length
- Julienne the onions
- Heat oil in a wok, and throw in the potatoes along with the onions as the oil gets heated.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes and then add the ladies finger to it.
- Toss the whole for a minute or two and then add half cup of water for the vegetables to get cooked properly.
- Leave for 8 minutes more for everything to get cooked, stir for a few times and add water if required.
We used to have potato-ladies finger fry as an accompaniment with rice and dal, you can also have it with chapattis or paratha.
Check for more updates on this blog, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating.