June 13, 2012

HOLY DRAGON! There's a kitchen in my home.

Why am I trying to poison myself, you ask? Well, a robot must cook. It has to fend for itself and be independent. Mombot did help, showing me the ropes around the kitchen and the basics of making myself a decent meal. Honestly, cooking is kinda simple. Sure, I could go on and on about the alchemic magic that occurs in a saucepan when you pour diced tomatoes onto browning onions and garlic, but, I would have no idea what I would be talking about. I am supposed to be a robot and raise zombies and shoot repulsor beams out of my palms. But, I still have to eat. I run on carbs, you see, and to make them more accessible, I gotta cook.

The basic process boils down to this:
  1. Brown the onion/scallions/shallots in oil (preferably extra virgin olive oil or canola). You may or may not have garlic, cumin, mustard, F-35 Lightning II, etc.
  2. Add things that take longer to cook - potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, tofu, chili, beans, CRT monitor, etc
  3. Add the mystical blend of powders and concoctions. Mostly includes salt, chili, turmeric, cloves, cardamom, ginger, lemon and other things that a mystical man travelling on a black horse would try to sell to you.
  4. When the previous things looked lightly cooked/tender, add the ingredients that take lesser time to cook. You could also add some more spice blends? But, make sure no one is looking at you.
  5.  When done, you may add final ingredients that do not require cooking, say, cilantro. You will never know when it's done. 
  6. This is enough to survive and you need know how to make a beef stroganoff. This takes about 30 minutes or less.
Spice blend is a vague term. In fact, all you truly need is salt, chili, turmeric and a ready made blend that you get in any supermarket. You need not worry about the proportions and sizes. Every time you get a new dish. 
I did pick up a few things though:
  • You need salt. Veggies require less amounts of it whilst meat requires more. The meat needs to dehydrate while cooking and salt helps.
  • Strong flavored ingredients will dominate the taste of the entire dish. Be wary of how much lemon, pepper, coriander, etc you add.
  • Mushrooms need to be well fried.
  • Potatoes require to be boiled in stock or simple water. 
  • Wash everything before cutting. Cleanliness in the kitchen is prime.
  • You simple need two knives - A chef's knife and a Paring Knife.
  • It's easy to cook and survival dishes take less than 30 minuted to prepare.
You could also read, "How to Cook Everything" by, Mark Bittman. This book is quite helpful and describes in great detail, the ingredients and techniques to cook them.

Honestly, anything on a flame is edible. That's how our ancestors did it. But, I would like to make a good dinner for my loved one, on a Saturday night sometimes.

Here's a recipe or two for ye!

Stir Fried Veggies

Step 1: Stock x Peas
  1. In a Pot (Dutch oven) add water, oil, green peas, salt, any random super market spice blend and chili powder.
  2. Boil em well! The peas are supposed to get soft and squishy. I like peas.
  3. Separate the peas from the liquid and leave them be.
  4. Take some of the left over liquid and use as stock (though you should simply simmer the liquid without the peas for an hour to get the real stock).
  5. Stock looks red and tastes great with the sweet taste of peas and spice of chili. 

This itself  is a decent soup and if you add little lemon and a good deal of cilantro you could have it even better. Though if you were indeed aiming for a soup, you should add diced carrots initially along with the peas and let it boil longer.

Step 2: Saute
  1. In a large bottomed saucepan throw in some oil and lemon. When hot, add the cut onion, garlic and ginger.
  2. When brown, add julienne'd carrots, mushrooms and tofu (paneer).
  3. Stir fry the stuff like your life's on the line. The mushroom and carrot get tender and the tofu beings to brown.
  4. When the tofu is light brown on all sides (more or less),  add the boiled peas and the stock (1/3 cup). You only need enough to cover half the veggies. If it begins to dry up, add some more stock. You need the ingredients to be well cooked and them carrots take a while. Add black pepper powder (this will  be the primary flavor).
  5. Wait till carrots and mushrooms are cooked. You may take them out and taste them , you know?
  6. Et voila! It's done.
Simple dish with the healthy punch of veggies.

Canned Tuna : No more!

This probably the fastest and simplest recipe that I know.
  1. In a saucepan brown some onions, garlic and thinly sliced chili.
  2. When brown, add diced tomato and or tomato puree. Throw in some powder of chili, turmeric, salt and Chicken curry powder (you get them at the super market, any spice blend that suits your fancy would do). You could add some lemon if you want some sour in your tuna.
  3. Fry for a while. The tomatoes need to be fired a little bit.
  4. Add tuna! Stir the mix until the tuna is well mixed with the predominant red looking mix. Continue for a while till the tuna is cooked.
  5. Turn the heat off and add super sliced cilantro and mix again.
Now, wasn't that simple? I love tuna. Maybe, I should try throwing tuna and peas together...