Know Your Lentils!

Being based in India, lentils are quite the staple for us. And not just that, it’s also a great comfort food bringing back fond memories for us where our Mums used to chase us to feed us Daal-Chawal. So once we did move away from the comfort of our homes, we all crave for that yummy Dal, but for the life of us can’t figure out what Daal is even used in the first place. We had one of our team members in the supermarket once calling her mother and asking, “Ma, what Dal do you use to make that Dal at home?” Yeah, true story.

Hence, this is a simple guide for the few kinds of Dals you have and will come across your life, and what you should do with them.

Moong Dal

1. Moong Dal: 

India’s signature vegetarian dish, the Dal Fry, ordered fondly by North Indians while living in South India and the ‘perfect’ vegetarian gravy is made by this beautiful yellow Dal. These are actually mung beans that have been skinned and split, so that they’re flat, yellow, and quick-cooking. They can also be fried and make for unhealthy yet delicious snacks that finish quickly in the house. Yes, this is the dal you use to make that dal at home.

Toor Dal

2. Toor Dal:

This is the dal which most South Indians would you be familiar with, as it is the main ingredient that goes into the much loved Sambhar. Whole toor lentils are yellow with tan jackets, but they’re usually sold skinned and split.  They have a mild, nutty flavor, and they’re often cooked as a side dish or ground into flour.  They’re sometimes sold with an oily coating, which you should rinse off.  They are also known as Pigeon Peas to the rest of the world.

3. Urad Dal

Urad Dal

Black Dal/Kali Dal, again very popular in both North and South India, and absolutely delicious when cooked right. These lentil-like beans have black skins covering creamy white interiors.  Whole urad dal derive their strong, earthy flavor from the black skins and are often used in curries.  Split urad dal retain the skins and also have a strong flavor.  You would use this dal to make your favourite Dal Makhani. This dal also goes into making those yummy Idlis and Dosas.

Channa Dal

4. Channa Dal:

Another variation of the Dal curries, the Channa Dal often has a nuttier flavour to it. With their sweet and nutty flavor, these are the most popular dal in India.  They’re made from splitting a small relative of the chickpea in half.  They’re a dull yellow and are renowned for causing flatulence (erm…), which Indians try to counter by adding asafoetida to the dish (yay!).

 

5. Rajma: 

Rajma

Ok, so this is not considered a lentil per se and are known to the world as red kidney beans, but this staple is considered Rajma dal in India. The red bean is not of Indian origin and was brought to the Indian subcontinent from Mexico. They are a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, and also slow the rise in blood sugar after a meal, help memory, provide antioxidant effects, give you energy, and provide fat-free high quality protein. See? Tasty is good for your health too! 😛

Before we sign off, we wanted to share the recipe of an awesome Dal Makhani dish that will make you lick your plates clean! 🙂

Dal Makhani

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole black lentils and a handful of dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight

    Zoinkalicious! Dal Makhani

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
  • Water, as needed
  • Salt, to taste
Method:

1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker and saute onions till lightly browned. Stir in salt, chilli powder, ginger-garlic paste, and tomato paste and fry for a few seconds.

2. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to combine well. Add lentils and beans, and enough water to cover them. Pressure cook for 15-20 minutes till lentils are soft and done. Stir in milk and let it come to a boil.

3. In a separate pan, make a tempering by heating butter and whole garlic cloves slit in the middle. Stir the tempering into the lentils and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

4. Serve warm with soft, fluffy Naans.

 

Happy New Year! Again!

Hi Zoinkers! We are so excited to celebrate New Year’s 🙂 (and we thought we’d have to wait a whole year to do that again!)

No, your calender is not wrong nor are we playing a prank. 23rd Jan 2012 is the beginning for the year of the Dragon, in China and they are celebrating it big!

Xin Nian Kuai Le! No prizes for guessing what it means! 😛

The year of the dragon is considered especially special by the Chinese because dragon is the only animal in their zodiac which is mythical. In China dragons are seen as protectors and symbols of good fortune and great power. And since they are larger than life, the year is expected to see grand events. 2012 under the influence of the Dragon it is a yang year. Yang Water is like a flowing river, which means movement; of  ideas, flow of creativity, economies expected to boom, and love to blossom in this environment. Sounds like a really exciting year is about to begin 🙂

And of course, celebrations mean loads of good food and Chinese are no exception to this rule. In order to make the year lucky, they start with a meal with special dishes to mark what they want for the new year. Maybe we should also order in from our favorite chinese take out and see if it really works.

Things you would need on the menu:

For long life

Long Noodles:  Dont break them as they symbolizes long life and continuous good fortune.

Fish: In mandarin, the word fish ‘Yu’ sounds like the word for ‘wish’ and ‘abundance’. Might seem fishy, but what’s the harm in trying to fool the fates? 🙂

Chicken : Would need to find a place which serves a whole chicken for this to work it’s magic as the whole  chicken represents wholeness and prosperity.

Sweet and sour pork : This is for the old folks wanting grandchildren as the Cantonese word for “sour” sounds like the word for grandchild.

Lucky fruits!

Jiaozi or Momos:  These represent family reunions. The round shape also invokes the shape of coins, thus also representing wealth.
Oranges: This is served at the end of the meal and sweet tang is supposed to be flavored like luck.
Well, that’s quite a meal, isn’t it? Whether it actually brings luck and what not, the food is sure to put you  in such a good mood that the rest of year will be worth looking forward to!
Once again, hope you have a great year ahead! 🙂

Uncooking anyone?

We’ve all had our turns at the stove where everything we did messed up and stank from here to high heavens. And that’s about the time when either we wish we had not started this venture or we could, errr.. uncook it. And amazingly enough, someone has unlocked the key to ‘uncooking’. You heard me right, it’s ‘Uncooking’! And we have the fathers of fine dining, ie the French, to thank for. Well,  one French guy in particular called Hervé This.

A little about Hervé before we go on. Heard of Molecular Gastronomy?* Well, this is the physical chemist who, along with physicist Nicholas Kurti, came up with the concept. He breaks down the science of everyday cooking, thus discovering more efficient way of assembling a recipe. For example, it’s been an old debate among cooks, how to make  béchamel sauce ie white pasta sauce without lumps; whether to to add roux (cooked butter and flour) to milk or vice versa. Also whether the milk should be hot or cold. Turns out one of the polymers is not water soluble and another dissolves only in hot water. Dissolving starch in hot water creates a gel that makes lumps. The solution? Add the roux to cold milk. Who knew that the dreaded chemistry lab would help us make that perfect pasta!

Check out his CHOCOLATE CHANTILLY recipe. It has only chocolate and water with sugar optional! Now if that the not the shortest ingredient list you have seen for a mousse then I don’t know what you been making!!

INSTANT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE (CHOCOLATE CHANTILLY)

As easy as Chocolate Chantilly?!

Recipe by Herve This & Heston Blumenthal

Ingredients

4 servings

  • 9.35 ounces (265 grams) bittersweet (%70 cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 4 tbsp sugar, optional

Method

  1. Place a large mixing bowl on top of another slightly smaller one, filled with ice and cold water (the bottom of the large bowl should touch the ice). Set aside.
  2. Put chocolate and water (also sugar and/or liquor if you’re using) in a medium-sized pan and melt the chocolate over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into the mixing bowl sitting on top of ice and water, and start whisking with a wire whisk (or an electrical hand-held mixer) until thick. Watch the texture as you whip and make sure not to over-whip as it will make the mousse grainy. If the mousse becomes grainy (which is possible at your first try), transfer it back into the pan, reheat until half of it is melted, pour it back to the mixing bowl and whisk again briefly.
  4. Divide into four serving cups and serve immediately.

And you can also flavor it with cinnamon or add a tablespoon of liquor like Grand Marnier, Chartreuse or Tia Maria. Just make sure the amount of liquid stays the same (subtract the amount of liquor from water). Or boil the water first, take off heat, place a couple of Earl Grey tea bags, let infuse and then use it as your liquid. You’ll have Earl Grey scented mousse in no time. Watch this video for finding out the perfect consistency from the man himself,Heston Blumenthal and he tells you why it works!(Applause!!)

Best part is that since it doesn’t lose it’s consistency it can be used as filling for cakes or any kinda bakes! 🙂

Anyways, got side track there, din’t we? Back to ‘uncooking’. We are not at a place where we can uncook that really complicated  ‘pate en croute’ yet, but we can start with the humble egg. And you can try this at home, just that it takes about ,say 3 hours! 🙂 It’s just easier watching the video!

Check out how to uncook an egg:

Ps: ignore the last 5 secs.. have no idea why Chucky! :-/

Well, that’s a lot of new things you learned today! Let us know how you liked it! 🙂

* If you have not, then more on that in later posts! 🙂

5 Salads You’d Hate to Love! :)

“Me? Salad? No way!” – Yeah, we hear the same voice in our heads more than often too. But there are some salads that have somehow, appealed to our palates in more than one way. The crunchy textures, the tangy taste, the fatty dressings on the vegetables and crispy bacon in the salads – make us hate to love these salads. We’re sure you’d agree too 🙂

1. Cobb Salad 

This is a “composed” salad, meaning the ingredients are arranged on the salad as opposed to all being tossed together. Originally it was a way for the restaurant to simply use up leftovers, but it soon became the Brown Derby‘s most popular dish. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 4 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 2 avocados, peeled and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Method:

  1. Fry the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels, and when cool enough to handle, crumble and set aside.
  2. Arrange a bed of lettuce on the serving plates. Arrange the eggs, bacon, chicken, avocados, tomatoes, and Roquefort cheese in straight rows on top of the lettuce, covering the surface completely.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil whisking constantly to form the dressing. Drizzle the dressing evenly over the salad, and serve immediately.

2. Thai Beef Salad 

This gourmet version of Thai beef salad is full of the authentic flavours of Asia. It has the succulence of the beef, the crunchiness of the peanuts, the heat from the chillies and the sweet tang from the sugar. Not to be missed!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch coriander 3cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 long red chillies, seeded, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 lemons, zested, juiced
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 55g (1/4 cup firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 700g beef sirloin, cut into 1cm x 4cm strips
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil quick
  • 1 red onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, halved, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • Chopped roasted peanuts and cooked rice stick noodles (optional), to serve

Method:

  1. To make nam jim, trim roots from coriander and rinse well. Pick leaves and reserve. Process coriander roots, ginger, garlic, half the chillies, lemon zest and juice, fish sauce and brown sugar in a food processor until well combined and finely chopped.
  2. Combine half the nam jim with beef in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.
  3. Heat 2 tbs oil in a large wok over high heat. Add half the beef mixture and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until beef is browned and just cooked through. Remove from wok and repeat with the remaining 2 tbs oil and beef mixture.
  4. Place onion, cucumber, reserved coriander leaves, mint, remaining chillies, beef mixture and remaining nam jim in a large bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, scatter with peanuts and serve with rice stick noodles, if using.
Note:
  • Nam jim is a chilli-based Thai dressing with a balance of spicy, salty, sweet and sour flavours. Allow 30 minutes

Tip: Allow 50g dried rice stick noodles per person. To cook the noodles, place in a heatproof bowl, cover with hot water and stand for 10 minutes. Drain, then toss with 1 tbs sesame oil.

3. Potato and Asparagus Salad 

Potatoes are always a crowd favourite, no matter where you go. This salad has our favourite vegetable tossed in with creamy mayonnaise and herbs that are a delightful play on your tastebuds. With the goodness of asparagus, and spikes of herbs, this salad is an easy way for you to impress your friends too!

Ingredients:

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled, halved
  • 2 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup (150g) whole egg mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Method:
  1. Cover the potatoes with cold water and boil for 15 minutes over high heat or until just tender when tested with a skewer. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus spears in boiling water then plunge into iced water. Drain and set aside.
  3. To make the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  4. To serve, arrange the potato and asparagus on a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with the mayonnaise dressing. Serves 6.

4. Cha-cha Chicken Salad

This chicken salad is so full of surprises and tang that it really is a Cha-Cha Chicken salad. You’ll love this salad if you love the delicious sweet-savoury combination in salads. The flavour of the cooked chicken in enhanced with the sweetness of the pineapple and cranberries. While the cranberries won’t be available in local markets, you can pick them up from the gourmet supermarkets like Nature’s Basket, Gourmet, Sorbet and sometimes Namdhari’s Fresh.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple
  • 2/3 cup orange-flavored sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped roasted, salted almonds
  • Garnishes: fresh herbs, blackberries, raspberries, sliced peaches

Method:

1. Whisk together cream cheese and mayonnaise, curry powder and salt in a large bowl; stir in chicken, pineapple, and cranberries just until blended.

2. If desired, spoon mixture into a plastic wrap-lined 8-inch round cake pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Invert chicken salad onto a cake stand, and remove plastic wrap. Gently press chopped almonds onto sides of chicken salad. Garnish with berries.

5. Grilled Peach and Mozzarella Salad

A cumin-lime vinaigrette spiked with a tiny amount of tequila adds a little something extra to this gorgeous grilled salad of peaches and fresh mozzarella cheese. As the seasons change, consider substituting heirloom tomatoes, plums, and other soft fruits for the peaches (traditional peaches work better in this dish than white peaches, which have more sugar and water and don’t hold up as well on the grill).

Ingredients:

  • 5 peaches (not white)
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tequila (optional)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 (6-oz.) package watercress or baby arugula, thoroughly washed (or any other salad leaves)
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 16 (1/4-inch) slices
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs

Method:

1. Peel and chop 1 peach. Cut remaining 4 peaches into 28 (1/4-inch-thick) rounds, cutting through stem and bottom ends. (Cut peaches inward from sides, cutting each side just until you reach the pit. Discard pits.)

2. Process chopped peach, green onions, cilantro, honey, lime zest, lime juice, cumin, chilli powder, and, if desired, tequila in a food processor 10 to 15 seconds or until smooth. Add oil, and pulse 3 to 4 times or until thoroughly combined.

3. Coat cold cooking grate of grill with some oil, and place on grill. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high). Brush both sides of peach rounds with 1/3 cup peach dressing.

4. Grill peach rounds, covered with grill lid, over 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear.

5. Arrange watercress evenly on 4 plates. Alternately layer 4 grilled peach rounds and 4 cheese slices over watercress on each plate. Top each with 3 more peach rounds. Drizzle with remaining peach dressing. Garnish, if desired.

And, those are top 5 Zoink! salads you’d hate to love. We’re sure you have many more on your list. Do share them with us, and leave your comments below! 🙂

Recipes Courtesy:

http://www.myrecipes.com

http://www.taste.com

http://www.americanfood.com

10 Reasons Why We Love Chocolate! :)

It’s as simple as gets, although we are certain no one really needs a ‘reason’ per se to love chocolate.

"I'd give up chocolate. But I'm not a quitter!"

10. Chocolate makes you happy:

Chocolate contains tryptophan, a chemical in the brain that is used to produce the neurotransmitter, serotonin. High levels of serotonin stimulate the secretion of endorphins, and produce feelings of elation. Serotonin is found in the antidepressant Prozac, and the designer drug “ecstasy” produces its effects by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. So… antidepressants, illegal drugs, or a Hershey’s bar.  You pick.

9. Chocolate may help people live longer:

 In a Harvard University study conducted in 1999, researchers tracked 8,000 men and found those who ate chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who didn’t. Although scientists don’t know why the men lived longer, they speculate it has to do with the antioxidants found in chocolate.  I speculate that it’s because these same men had enough chocolate around their house that they had no shortage of woman willing to come around and cook them healthy meals and clean their bathroom once in a while.  But that’s just a theory.

8. Chocolate is really good for you:

Dark chocolate contains chemicals that lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.  Flavanoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to make a difference in cardiovascular health.  Scientists now recommend that you have a chocolate cookie or biscuit so your body gets more of those life-lengthening chemicals.  Skip those cookies & milk since some studies show that milk cancels out the healthful effects of eating chocolate by preventing those helpful chemicals from being fully absorbed in the body.  Hey – nobody said the science of chocolate was going to be simple!

7. Chocolate is a cardiac stimulant of heart:

Not that we actually care, but various beneficial substances are contained in chocolate. For example, some antioxidants and flavonoids can help us reduce the chances of getting cancer and cardiovascular disease. The substances contained in cocoa can also help us prevent the formation of heart disease. Therefore, if we feel tired, we can eat chocolate to support our heart.

6. Chocolate has just the right chemistry:

According to a study by the University of Michigan, chocolate contains chemicals called opioids.  Opioids are also found in opium which can dull pain and give you a feeling of well-being.  Therefore, people who eat chocolate produce natural opiates in their brains that can soothe their nerves and make them feel good.

5. Chocolate makes us feel more alive:

The caffeine content alone of dark chocolate can increase pulse, heart rate and alertness; chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that has effects much like amphetamines. It’s a feeling of alertness, not unlike the feeling you get in the early stages of romance—very different from a slap-in-the-face coffee buzz.

4. Chocolate equals love:

Speaking of love, the association might not be completely physiological. Women crave chocolate more often than men do. Women are also habitually given chocolate as birthday and Valentine’s Day presents. In our culture, chocolate is thought of as a romantic gift. It’s outside the realm of mundane, day-to-day food, reserved for special occasions–and, for women especially, it’s associated with love and romance. That could be another reason why women particularly love chocolate: deep down, it makes them feel loved, cared for, and pampered.

3. Being Addicted to Chocolate won’t get you arrested:

Hell, it’s a drug alright, but you can get away with it. Nobody is going to say anything to you if you eat 2 whole bars of chocolates by yourself and get a sugar rush (er, we’re not counting your dietician or trainer, if you have one). You could bask your joys in bites of chocolate or drown your sorrows in that delectable cocoa taste, and can have as much as you want. Either way, you won’t get into trouble with the law.

2.  Chocolate is great for your sex life:

Even the Aztecs believed that chocolate has aphrodisiac properties.  There might be some truth to those old legends.  Recent studies have shown that women who eat a little bit of chocolate a day have significantly more sex than women who don’t.  Possibly because their boyfriends who show up at their doorsteps have a box of Truffles in hand maybe those brain-soothing chemicals found in chocolate encourages the brain to release more of those “feel good” chemicals as it’s eaten.  Chocolate just makes us feel good – which is a key ingredient for a healthy sex life.  The Moral of This Story?  Feel good, Look good, have good sex!

1. Chocolate melts at 97°F.:

That’s right, just below body temperature.  So it actually does melt in your mouth.  That also means if you put a Hershey’s Kiss on your sweetie’s stomach, it will slowly melt into a little pool of chocolate. Uh oh… you’d better clean that up.  And who knows where things will go from there! 😉

While we love chocolate, we also recommend you have it in moderate quantities (minus those occasional binges). Some dark chocolate a day would keep you happy and positively glowing! Do you have any other reasons as to why you love chocolate? Do leave your comments below. Team Zoink! would love to hear it! 🙂

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/317031

Donna Hay here to stay! :)

We love food, and everything to do with food. Which also means we love watching our food and cookery shows (you can find our post on food shows here). Having seen pretty much all the reruns of Nigella Lawson’s specials and Jamie Oliver’s oomph, we just found our new favourite food show on TLC – Donna Hay – Fast, Fresh and Simple. Her show lives up to the title – the beautiful Australian chef does indeed make food that is fast, fresh and simple.

Donna Hay

Donna’s first television series reveals what makes her recipes, books and magazine so well-loved and admired. The show showcases the natural charm and passion Donna brings to the world of cooking. A relaxed and composed cook, Donna shares her tricks and tips of combining fresh and pantry ingredients to create fast and simple dishes, presented in her signature style.

What we love about the show is that Donna uses simple, and easily available ingredients while cooking, and tends to use incredibly easy cooking techniques too (we hate those shows that ask us to ‘fold’ and cut ‘juliennes’ perfectly). And she doesn’t just wow us with the easy to cook food, she presents it beautifully and the food is really delicious too (we’ve tried it).

Many say that Donna Hay is the new Nigella Lawson; mainly so Nigella’s show finally came to an end a year back, and TLC decided to stop airing the reruns. Hence the new and ‘fresh’ show from Donna Hay. #DonnaHay also became one of the most trending topics on Twitter, once the show began to be aired on TLC.

Before we finish, we’d like to share this wonderful Cheat’s Chocolate Fondant recipe of Donna Hay. We tried it at home, and we were actually able to make it this beautiful! 🙂

Cheat’s Chocolate Fondant: (Serves 4*)

The uber dee-lishious Chocolate Fondant! 🙂

Ingredients:

50g plain flour, sifted
55g icing sugar, sifted
90g ground almonds
2 egg whites
100g butter, melted
160g dark chocolate, melted
4 small squares dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
  2. Place the flour, sugar, almond meal, eggwhites, butter and melted chocolate in a bowl and mix well to combine.
  3. Spoon half the mixture into 4 x ½-cup capacity (125ml) lightly greased dariole moulds. Divide the extra chocolate squares between the moulds and top with the remaining mixture.
  4. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until cooked but soft in the middle. Stand in tins for 5–7 minutes before turning out.

That truly is a delicious recipe. We hope you enjoy it! Are there any Donna Hay (or any other cool Chef) recipes that you’ve tried and liked? Do share them with us! 🙂

*That’s if 4 people eat one fondant each – 4 fondants in total. So if you have a guest like someone who works at Zoink!, be rest assured that it would ‘serve’ only one 😛

Book of the Month: Like Water for Chocolate

Must read for food lovers.

Recipe books are not thrilling for the typical reader and story books are not thrilling for cooks. But when a love story is poured into a recipe book, you have a combination that is arousing to the senses like few other books would ever do.

Laura Esquivel gives you a story of a woman in love and whose only outlet for expression – passion, agony, ecstasy that is being in love- is through food. The title ‘Like water to chocolate’ refers to the Spanish phrase which alludes to the boiling point of extreme emotions like anger, passion and sexuality.

Love and Food.. the two essentials!

 

 

We all have our moments when we reached out to food to express. Sometimes it’s eating that tub of ice cream or a bar of chocolate when you had the most horrible day. Or baking a cake because you can’t contain the excitement or just want to try something new. Or missing Amma’s mango chutney she makes whenever we fall sick. Or eating ginger cookies and getting nostalgic about the ones that grandma used to make 🙂 And just like food is universal, so is love. We’ve had our crushes, fallen in love, got bruised, picked up the pieces and for some lucky people, had their happy endings.

Which is why when the combination is put forth, the result is something which is entirely relatable and yet, Laura’s added her own secret ingredient which makes it equally elusive and magical.

The book is told in 12 parts, one for each month of the year and each starts with a recipe. When we start reading , it seems more like recipe book which incidently has a story woven in. But slowly and steadily, keeping the kitchen and cooking as the central point, she builds her characters and the complexities between them. The main point of the story revolves around Tita and Pedro who are unable to come together because of social customs and traditions. It is Tita’s joy,frustration,anger which gives fruit to marvelous culinary delights and recipes.

One of the things we loved about the book was the revelation of ingredients- the various permutation and  combinations which we had not though of before. One of the key turning points in the book revolve around quail in rose petal sauce.  Rose?! Who would have thought of adding roses to meat? Then there are the culinary secrets, like how to make the most perfect cup of hot chocolate! How are we not supposed to love such a book?

It’s hard to believe that this is Laura Esquivel’s first book because she displays a wonderful sense of balance. Sometimes she overwhelms you with recipes, the descriptions of it’s preparation and we are lost, mesmerised by the scents that’s arising from the stove.

Then just as suddenly we are swept away in emotions and drama of the story. More over the language is highly reminiscent of Marquez’s “One hundred years of solitude”  since it’s written in ‘magical realism‘. It’s a work of a wonderfully talented writer who knows her food.

All in all, whether you are someone who loves to read or just someone who loves food and cooking then this is a book that you have to get hold of.

Ps: Do let us know what you thought about the book. Or if you try one of the recipes! 🙂