The time: Mostly for dinner
The mission: To pig out on Aashrita's killer food!
This is something I discovered very recently regarding an old school friend of mine who also ply's her trade in Mumbai's bustling film industry. She's one of those amazing amazing natural cooks- the rare breed, who does it out of pure habit and love rather than as a chore. She is the epitome of all things good that come out of any kitchen. And with her faithful advisors/ tasters in Farhad ("the secretary") and me, what could possibly go wrong?
The first time I learnt of Aashrita's amazing culinary abilities (you can read all about them in the blog down in the dumpling) I immediately set myself to find out if all the fables spoken about her were true by admonishing her for not having given me a taste of her food. And wow! If ever a pretense of her food were to be of any measure to her skills, I would have to say she broke ALL boundaries of expectation by a mile! In all my years, I have seen very few so much at peace in the kitchen, doing so much without as much as breaking a sweat. From what I have heard, she can whip up a storm no matter how bad her day has gone, no matter what time of the day it may be.
I had my first taste of her cooking during a party wherein she made a smoked chicken salad with baked cannelloni and tiramisu for dessert. A spread like that on a casual night out with friends was just the kind of start I was looking for! The salad was delicious (I walloped a plate full of it!), the cannelloni tasted like it had meat in it even though it was vegetarian, and to top it off the rather generous helping of tiramisu (having my own special contribution of coorg filter coffee which I had provided the previous day- a worthy one too) was divine!!! This was just the beginning to many happy meals with this uber-cool couple from Lokhandwala.
|Dearly Beloved. Farhad (l) and Aashrita (r)|
What astounds me about this girl is the fact that she makes light of the seemingly impossible. The second meal I had being a true example of it- she comes back from a hectic shoot to immediately start cooking. And what does she make? A delightful tomato curry which goes perfectly well with some home-made chapati's and bread. If that isn't an example of pure genius I don't know what would be. I also took back with me a chuntu container of inspiring homemade fig jam that night- which was the perfect addition to my breakfast the next morning.
Also to be noted here are the other gourmet dishes that she's made- and which she has very unceremoniously not called me for (laser glares!)- such as the roast chicken, some delicious looking hamburgers, and mutton pepperoni pizzas! (which can also be read about- with recipes! - in the blog)
The most recent culinary expedition I had the honor of experiencing in this holy apartment of all things food-related was her haleem, made with the most authentic meat and spices and cooked to the kind of perfection that only Aashrita knows how to get to (although being honest I don't know anyone else who knows how to make haleem!). This, in addition to another helping of her killer tiramisu rounded off the night on an all time high! (literally! I ended up back home at 5 a.m!)
|Diving in for fresh catch on whats promised to be our next meal...sushi!!!|
Of all my quirks, one of them is as a sucker for everything delectable that comes cooked in a traditional family home- of which we see lots of in India. Its an amazing thing to keep alive- and bloody hard if you ask me. Hell, I cant cut an onion without being all clumsy about it. My own sister is an example of a super super cook who, just like Aashrita, uses it as a tool to de-stress. It just comes naturally to them..and when exquisite food comes out of those kitchens I don't think anyone has any claim to say otherwise. You could literally taste the pure love that they put in their food!
So this here is a homage of sorts to all those inspired cooks whose kitchens are their primary homes. They are the ones who not just cook for their own pleasure- they do it for the love of feeding the bellies of their fellow kindred! I can assure you, you will never come out disappointed after digging into one of their meals! Here's to them, and the next time I get fed..Bon Appétit!