Is scratch cooking a lost art?
If you compare the meals served in many of the kitchens today to meals served years back, there is one very big difference. Nearly every meal has come from a box, bag, or pouch. Take breakfast, for example. Did you have toast? If so, did you make the bread? Cereal? One of those little packs of oatmeal, all flavoured up and just waiting for you to add water? Did your breakfast originate in the freezer?
If you do a quick survey of your own kitchen, you may be surprised at what you find. I discovered that the best way to clean up my act was to focus on cooking only from scratch. Now, my kitchen has only a few holdouts, most of which are there for food storage purposes.
Some of the most common processed items that “sneak in” are dairy and grain products, bread, yogurt, and pasta. None of these would be incredibly difficult to make, but they are time-consuming. In a world that is ever-increasingly geared towards convenience, few people take the time to roll out noodles or bake cookies these days. Birthday cakes come from the bakery, cookies come from a bag with a convenient tab to reseal it, and bread comes from a shelf at the grocery store, so perfectly uniform that if you put it back and mixed all the loaves up, you’d never find the original loaf. All of this easy-access food has taken a deeper toll than you might imagine.
A toll on our health, our ability to make the simplest item on our own, the time we spend with our families, to the next generation, when we fail to teach them the arts that are vanishing as our grandparents pass away. I still remember my grandmother used to cook fresh snacks from scratch when we return from school.
Cooking from scratch is actually an analogy for today’s society. Scratch cooking is easier than it seems. Media is partly to blame for making it seem difficult to actually cook.
The Nadan dishes from Kerala are prepared scratch mainly using the locally available ingredients. In Nadan cuisine, spices play an important part. The main spices used are black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, garlic, cumin seeds, and coriander, turmeric and green and red chillies
Nadan lamb curry
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Lamb, cut into medium pieces – 500 gms
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Ginger/ garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilies, sliced – 1 Shallots, sliced – 1/2 cup
Curry leaves – 1 or 2 sprigs
Water – as required
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 or 2 sprigs
Green chilies, sliced – 1 or 2
Ginger, julienned – 1″ piece
Garlic, sliced – 3 large cloves
Onion ,thinly sliced – 1 cup( 1 large)
Coconut, sliced – 2 to 3 tbsp
Kashmiri chili powder – 1/4
Tomato, chopped – 1/4 cup
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – as required
To roast and grind:
Dry red chillies – 4 ( see notes)
Coriander seeds -1 and 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon – 1/2″ piece
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Black peppercorns – 1/2 to 3/4 tsp
1) Heat a heavy bottomed pan and dry roast all the ingredients listed under – To roast and grind – stirring continuously for 2 to 3 minutes.
2) Allow this to cool completely and grind to form a fine powder.
3) In a pressure cooker add the prepared masala powder, lamb, turmeric powder, ginger-garlic paste, one green chili, shallots , curry leaves ,salt to taste and sufficient amount of water( about 3/4 to 1 cup).
4) Cook until lamb is done. (For best result, cook covered in a heavy bottomed pan for about 45 to 60 minutes.). Set aside.
5) Heat oil in a clay pot or in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add curry leaves, green chilies, ginger and garlic. Sauté for few seconds.
6) Add onion and sliced coconut . Cook until onion turns soft, stirring frequently, add chopped tomato and mix well.
7) Cook until tomato turns mushy. Add kashmiri chili powder, and sauté for about 1 minute.
8) Add the cooked lamb along with the stock into the onion mixture. Add more salt if required.
9) Cover and cook over medium flame for about 10 to 12 minutes or until gravy turns thick. Finally add 1 tsp coconut oil and few curry leaves, switch off the stove. Serve with rice.