These days I am not doing any research and development work on recipes, thanks to my great foodie friends on the net. So these days I am just whistling and making dishes in the kitchen, with laptop open on one side. (printer is not working ). But sometimes I need to prove, that I am still a cook. This reminds me the definition of a cook given by a great khansama ( cook) decades back.
As an young engineer, I used to brag around, during lunch in the officer's dining room , what a great cook I was, I cooked this and that; awesome, fantastic and all the choicest adjectives I could still remember then. One day the cook , an old bearded man in his 60s , had cooked "Mutton Glossy" a favorite of the General Manager. This cook had worked for the father of the Managing Director at his residence and for the MD too. But when MD's son got married the new lady of the house did not like this man to boss around. So she had him thrown out of the house. She did not know what she missed, because later whenever I was invited to the MD's son's house, I had to eat the food cooked by the lady. I had to eat that with great adjectives else I knew I would be also thrown out of my job.
Coming back , while eating "Mutton glossy" I started my usual brag on what great dish I cooked, what a great cook I was. The cook standing around, waiting to get a pat from the GM for the dish, smiled at me. I was bit disarmed.
" Why are you smiling , Ali dada ,? ( even MD used to call him Ali dada ) you dont believe what I say?'
He replied in perfect Urdu
" Of course I believe you, if you put choicest spices, onion, garlic, garam masala etc it is got to be tasty and great dish! It is impossible to make it taste bad ,,, but you will be a cook if you can reproduce the taste days in days out. "
" What do you mean?" I asked with a reasonably modest voice, because I knew I was talking to one of the greatest Chefs of that time.
He smiled and continued " I come to your house and you cook me a great dish to my liking. After 10 yrs I come to your place again and request you to cook the same dish. You make it . I will just put it in my mouth and if I say say " Ghosh dada , you took me 10 years back, the taste is exactly the same", then you are a cook ( he didn't know the word Chef), else....he just implied by a smile what he wanted to say.
But now, let me clarify , we are not chefs, we cook as ametures, we dont earn our bread by cooking. So we must innovate , we must cook new dishes, fusion dishes, dishes of the world etc every day for our near and dear ones, what can be more satisfying than this, seeing a smile or a word of appreciatrion from a near and dear one. If I start cooking all the dishes which I have learnt from my friends here , I wont be able to finish cooking them in this life.
Moral of the story is, out of 100s of dish we experiment, we must watch which one is liked very much by our near and dear ones. We must assess which dish we may need to repeat on a request, which we would love to hear from a person dear to us. In my experiments with cooking , SOMEONE has been very cooperative to be a guinea pig, ( Malar, no objection with the word please). So I have a list of few dishes, she loves and I can reproduce it with perfection.
I repeated the above story to someone in the morning. She has heard it 100 times before , mostly with a yawn. But disaster followed in the afternoon, SOMEONE arrived with a cabbage in her left hand and a pack of un-peeled fresh green peas in the other.
" I was greatly moved by your story in the morning, and was thinking what dish should I tell you to cook to make you happy !! And also, by the way, I want to see if you are still a cook!!! So please make your "Bandha Kofir ghanto" with peas and no fusion unless I had approved earlier"
I bared my teeth ( laughed I mean) " Of course , done"
The dish is very simple..but cutting the cabbage uniformly in not the job of a highly rewarded international cook. So I thought if I stabbed and cut the cabbage here and there and whatever was the outcome could be transfered into a stir fried cabbage with garlic, chili and soya, I need not have to cut it uniformly.
In the afternoon while leaving for her round at the nursing home, SOMEONE said " Discovery channel can wait , finish the cooking "
But when I entered the kitchen I saw a pile of nicely cut cabbage, green peas and peeled potatoes waiting for me. " Hummm , to be lazy some times has its own benefits indeed". ( The dialogue between me and the cabbage, which followed, is confidential , and wont tell you.)
It is an old and popular Bengali traditional dish and I have tried to maintain it. There is numerous variation, which I also cook. Here I will give, what I learnt from my mother. This dish has a garam masala flavor with a good note of ginger and cumin.. In my time all bengali vege dishes were devoid of onion and garlic, in other words any vege dish containing onion, garlic were treated as non-vege,
cabbage 1 about 8 inch dia , cut to thin slice uniformly.
Potato 3 medium, cut to 3/4 inch cubes
Peas 1 fistful or more.
Green chili 3 - 4
Ginger grated fine or chopped 2 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp leveled
salt as required
Oil 1 tbsp ( more the merrier)
spice soak in water to a paste
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp heap coriander powder
3/4 tsp cuminn powder
1/2 tsp chili powder ( more or less you decide)
bay leaf 1
red chili dry 2
cumin seed 3/4 tsp
Cinnamon 1/2 in
Ghee 2 tsp ( Vegan no need to use)
Garam masala ( bengali) 1 tsp level ( Powder/ paste from equal proportion of raw cinnamon, cardamom, clove)
Heat oil and give seasoning and add the Potato
Add peas and soute for 2 -3 min
Add the spice paste, green chili and soute until cumin aroma comes out ( sprinkle water to prvent burning)
Mix thoroughly , reduce flame and cover,
Note:Water released from the cabbage should be sufficient to cook the potato and the cabbage. Else sprinkle water from time to time. If few cabbage pieces get fried and browned, that will add to the flavor, fried cabbage flavor.!!!
When the potato is done stir and dry out.
Add Ghee ( for non vegan) and garam masala powder/ paste and mix , cover and switch off.
Note: I dont use at all non stick utensils which are generally unsuitable for Indian dishes
Geranium flower for my great foodie friends.
Last time I had shown the colored leaves of Geranium. I only have the red color one in my album..