When I post the picture of a dish on facebook, some people asks for recipe, yet other comments how ugly it looks, yet others remembers the cooking experiments we made at college, hostels etc…
I do agree that I fails to make the dishes visually appealing, mostly because I cook for myslef and looks matter less for me, or because my only guests are half starved students who are living away from home for long and is willing to gulp down what ever they get, if it is better than dal-roti-subji available with the one room hotel downstairs, without caring how beautifully it is served. It may be also because I do remember many beautiful dishes tasted like dung, or some ugly dishes tasted awesome, or because my sister Hamna used to avoid prawn chutney, which was very tasty, because it looks like mud and she thought it is a bad dish, and I could get her share also.
As far as cooking skills is considered, I am not a great cook. Fortunately my food is tasted mostly by myself or by aforesaid category who believes it is best because of lack of alternatives.
Coming to the third part of recipe, let me be honest in admitting that I don’t know how to cook any of these dishes and I don’t have any of the recipes with me. I remember the taste of good food, feels the spices and condiments in it, comes home and tries to experiment with what I have in my Magic Kitchen to produce a similar taste. Most of the time I turn lucky enough to produce good taste, though not wonderful. Some other times I produce adjustable tastes, and rarely I feel happy I only have to taste these dishes.
Coming to the real topic of this post, in course of my experiments, I found that there is a basic curry which we manipulate and tweaks to make all other curries. It is the simplest dish, yet a tasty one. It has all basic minimum ingredients needed for a curry. A sour acidic tasting ingredient, to be balanced with proper amount of salt, some spice which gives hot taste, onion base, fried in oil, boiled in water.
The basic curry for me is a Tomato curry. It was the experimental dish which we used to make when we were given charge of home, without adults. The initial expertise comes from my aunt Haseena, whom we call acheena. I have tried many changes in the base to produce different tastes, some good and some bad. Let me begin with this basic curry!!!
Basic tomato curry needs, 2 big ripe tomatoes, I onion, 1 teaspoon oil, one pinch of turmeric powder, 2 table spoons coriander powder, 1 teaspoon of redchilly powder and salt to taste.
Fry finely chopped onion in a pan with oil over low flame, till it becomes brownish and soft. Add turmeric, stir, add coriander stir, mix properly. When it is starting to stick to vessel add chopped tomatoes. Stir properly and add chilly powder and salt, checking the taste in between. When the tomatoes are soft and starts to wither, add light amounts of water and let it be cooked properly. The curry should have a thick consistency, looser than the tomato sauce we buy from market in a bottle.
First step in cooking is perfectioning this basic recipe. Experiment with different spices, change quantity of spices a little, find what difference it produces. Find your own perfect proportion. Once you master this basic recipe, all other recipes are easy.
All other curries are improvement over the basic curry. Add chicken into basic curry at the stage when we added water, it will become chicken curry. Add fish, it will be fish curry, add ladies finger and it will be ladies finger curry. Ofcourse, you will need more salt and more spices if you are adding extra ingredients. But you will figure it out by experience.
PS: Smaller pieces of Onion and Tomato makes it faster to cook.
Different ingredients need different time to get cooked.