From my kitchen to yours

From my kitchen to yours

Saturday, June 29, 2013


And yesterday I gave away my piano .
No I do not know how to play a musical instrument.
But I could play devils march by heart.
And I was pretty good at it
Then happy birthday and do re mi ..

As a kid I could not really afford a piano or the piano lessons.
So I sang, I still do..
I love music and thankfully the sound of my own voice when no one is
listening to me .
I sang alto because it was easier.
And I deflected I to soprano whenever I liked a particular song .
But all the years of screaming like a hooligan has taken it's toll on my voice ,and my debut album ha ha ha
And so today I sing only to my kids and to myself.
Zeke normally tells me to keep quite but Zene and me do duets ..

And so in 2002 after searching for a piano for about a year.
A friend I know was moving house , and she did not have space and so was selling her piano.
I jumped at it.
I thought I would learn to play.
But I never found the time to.
I was busy travelling the world with music and Cricket.
But I looked after my piano.
It was always cleaned and tuned, and I would tinker with it when I wanted to ..
There is nothing like the sound of a piano in a home ..

I bought it because I felt that if not me my kids would get a chance to play on a real true blue old piece of art.
Well it's been 3 years since I have been trying to get Zeke interested.
Zeke who thinks he knows it all..boys..

Zene giving it a shot..

And Zene is just about starting.

I have been going through a let go or give away stage in life..
So I am  letting  go of people (with great difficulty ) that do not want to stay
And I'm giving away stuff that someone can make better use of.

But today when I saw my piano being carried away by 6 men .

I just broke down ,there was a sharp pain deep in my heart.
With it went a little bit of hope that I maybe would find time to learn a musical instrument.
Hope is a very beautiful thing ..
It keeps you alive..
But hoping for something to happen without working at it
Is futile ..

I have always wanted a piano right from the time I was tiny and singing at a talent contest
I still remember my first song
'But you love me daddy'
I also remember my grandma teaching me this song and me not reaching in time because she got the timing mixed up (I'm like her .. Oh my god )
So me in my pretty dress and stockings and shoes, did not get a chance to sing ..

I have always been healthily jealous of people who can play a musical instrument.
I think they are truly blessed.
I don't have it ( like I'm bad with languages)
I don't  have the patience..
Maybe Zeke is like me.
He actually wants to learn the drums ..
Yup he does..
But I cannot handle drums at the moment
Maybe I will let him when I'm old and deaf ..
Anyway the point of my rant is that I let go of my piano , that I loved and have always wanted...

And so today I decided to make Mutton do pyaaza ..
Which as the name suggests is double the amount of onions to the mutton ..
Basically I want to cry and I can use the onions as my excuse..
I believe that crying is good for health it cleanses your soul ..
So I googled and found a whole lot of recipes..
And some in Arabic..
Which was most informative , since I do not understand it at all ha ha ha

Well this is a combination of a recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor and Aditya bal and some other recipes..


MUTTON-800 gm

Onion- 750 gm
Tomatoes- 4
Dry red chili - 6
Green chili - 4
Pepper corns- 6
Cardamom - 4
Fennel seeds - 3 tsp
seeds or methi seeds -1 tsp
Cinnamon - 1 piece about 2 inches
Black cardomom -2
Pomegranate seeds- 4tbsp
Yoghurt -1/2 kg 

 Coriander seeds -2 tablespoons
Cumin seed-1 tablespoon
Lemon juice     -2 tablespoons
Ginger- chopped 2 inch piece
Fresh mint leaves - 1 handful
Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
masala powder     1 tbsp
Fresh coriander leaves,chopped  2 tablespoons
Ghee/clarified butter- 6 tbsp


With a hand pestle grind together the , red chillies, 2 green chillies, the pepper corn,cardamom, fennel seeds,
fenugreek seeds, pomegranate seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds..with a tablespoon of ghee.
Add the juice of 1 lime to it.
Then in a pressure cooker add 4 tbsp of ghee/clarified butter.
Add about 1/4 the onions and two green chillies..
Cook it till the onion gets translucent, add the spice mix and cook for 5 minutes more..
Take it off the fire and drain the onion spice mix, leave it to cool and then grind it in mixer

Put the pressure cooker back on the fire with the used ghee and add two more tbsp of ghee.

Put all the onions into it and let it sweat, on a medium flame.
Add the ginger paste and cook the entire mix for at least 15 minutes.
Add the cinnamon, the black cardamom , garam masala,turmeric powder ..
Give it a good stir..
Add the mutton pieces and let it all cook on a high flame for 10 minutes..
Please take extra care to not burn it.
Then put the flame down on medium and let it cook for another 25 minutes..
My grandma used to say that if you want tasty food , it need to be bagaar'd..or bhuno 'd..
So that's what I did..

Then add the mint.
I put in half a kg of yogurt , shut the pressure cooker and let it whistle twice.
I then brought down the flame and let it cook for 15 minutes.
Put it off and left it to cool.

Serve with mint and freshly cut onions with lime squeezed on it ..

And so today I'm letting it all out..
Half way mark to the year 2013..
And I'm cleaning and de-cluttering mind, body, heart , soul and home..

And so as I look at my ready mutton do pyaaza..

I'm thinking of my piano that is now sitting in my church ..
Where it will be played every Sunday , by someone who really knows how to make beautiful music.
So many kids will have a first hand experience of a true blue old fashioned piano...
I'm happy..
It will do what it was made to do ..
Play music ..
In my home it was a beautiful piano that was never really played..

And so even though I have still not gotten over the fact that I freely gave away something that I have always loved and wanted..
I think now it will be much happier ..

According to me a musical instrument not played is furniture
And a heart that cannot love with abandon is just a muscle ..

Music and love are both entwined..
Like the earth and the rain..
The sky and the deep blue sea..
The poet and her muse..
A paratha and ghee..
A muscle and a dumbell..
Yoga and health..
A run and endorphins..
Well that's my opinion completely and nobody has to agree with me ..

Cry me a river- Mutton..

So as I bite into my "Cry me a River-Mutton "..
That I used as my excuse to cry with abandon..
I'm thinking its all good  ..
It's funny how an onion that makes your eyes water while you are slicing it , completely turns sweet once you cook it ..

I guess that means all of us humans also become better people after we pass through trying times..
More compassionate, more loving, more understanding...more in tune with true feelings deep inside us and other people....

Well the sweetness of the onion and the spice of the chillies along with this tender mutton has sufficed me  at the moment to pacify my heart break ..

The rest I will sort out with some music  and time ..
With lotsa love and a looooong sigh only from "Maria's Kitchen "

Monday, June 24, 2013


And so my kitchen is kinda ready , but not yet..
There are workers walking in and out of my home..
Wherever I look ,I see a man working on some part of my home...
There are masons, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, painters, polishers, iron smiths..
Well there are just toooo many people..
And frankly now they have become part of my household...
So when I bake muffins...
Or make churros enough for an army..
They get it with their Chai..
Maybe that's why they are not leaving...
Ha ha ha ...

I think when the work all gets done..
And they do not come back no more..
I'm think I'm going to miss them..
Ha ha ha ...
I have made peace with the fact that they are not leaving in a hurry...
And that's that..

I think as humans..
Making peace with what you cannot change or improve is a good way to live ..
Not everything goes according to plan, but plan you must and know fully well that there will be changes..
I don't know..
But that's what I feel now ..
At this stage in my life..
But my feelings change a lot.. Mercurial is what my friend Jaya says I am..

I'm still volatile..
I still hurt..
I still bleed..
I still cry..
I do not like to give up..

But I have learnt to give in..
To let be..
I'm not always right..
Even though I may think I am ..
And it's not that I don't put up a fight ..

When I'm about to lose something or someone I dearly and deeply love or want..
But I also know, that if I'm fighting for something and someone..
Then they should also be wanting the same..
It's like that scene from "my best friends wedding" ..
Where Julia Roberts character is running after her best friend who is getting married to someone else..
And her friend Rupert Everetts character asks her, " and who is running after you"...
Such a deep pertinent question..

Well such is life..
Sometimes we need someone on the outside to give us perspective to the obvious..
And at that time..
We have a choice..
To actually see the truth..
And come to terms with it ..
Or live in fools paradise..

So Upender my contractor has told me, that it's going to take him maximum a week to finish up and leave ..
But I'm thinking 10-12 days at least..
That's because I can see it for what it is..
And so have made peace with the fact that ..
They are not leaving in a hurry..

Meanwhile, the pet project I'm working on has come to a standstill..
Also because I'm at a loss for words..
Am feeling a bit stuck..
So I do not know what to write..

Also I think when I broke my kitchen, a part of my soul broke with it too..
It's there that I found  my love for cooking..
That my ZZ's have had their first meals..
Where I have cooked many a meals for my friends..
Where my Christmas madness has happened..
Memories of sitting on the windows with my friends drinking wine..
Drunk dialling..ha ha ha
Gosh now that I'm reminiscing ..

There is just so much ..
Memories, moments  and some more...
Memories can be such a bitch sometimes..
Ha ha ha did I just say that ..
Yup that was me..!

But I'm enjoying my new kitchen..
But it's still not home broken..
I need to call my friends and cook for everyone..
I need to drink champagne in there ..
And not remember anything ..ha ha ha the usual..

This kitchen has all my old wood-work, but its very different.
Its calm..
Maybe I have finally grown up , or Zen'd out a bit..
Its white..
So I need to add my brand of colour.. still deciding , am so confused..
And I need to write stuff on my walls..
But it has a wooden island, that houses all my recipe books..
My Le Creuset dishes that my wonderful friend Tosh carried back from London for me, are hanging on my wall..
My new kitchen overlooks my terrace..
And the big blue sky that has the rising sun..
When it rains..
I just love sitting at the window of my kitchen ..and stare out..
I loooooove the rains..
There is something extremely romantic about this season ..
And there is something completely magical about looking up into the rain ,as it pours down on you ..

And so today inspite of my home being full of Upenders elves..
The soft drizzle and the fresh light green leaves swaying on my terrace..
Just did something to me..
And so I started frantically searching for something that I could whip up..
Something that I don't normally make..

So I found cod..
I had pasta that I had boiled and kept..
Then got into my pantry and took out sesame oil, chili flakes, Xo sauce, oyster sauce, 5 spice powder , fish sauce and I was in business..
What business I still had to figure ..
But I was going the oriental way..


Cod fillets-1 kg

Sesame oil
Soya sauce
Oyster sauce
Xoxo sauce - 1 Tbsp
5 spice powder-2tbsp
Fish sauce- 1tbsp
Pepper freshly grounded

Chili flakes
Vegetable oil-5 tbsp

Red pepper -1 diced

Yellow pepper-1 diced


I'm sorry but I did not really measure all of the ingredients I used..

I was just cooking with abandon..
So please bear with me...


Wash and pat dry the cod..
Then sprinkle it with the 5spice powder..
Add a nice healthy and happy glug of the sesame oil..
The fish sauce.
The freshly ground pepper..

And about 2 tbsp of good quality Soya sauce..
And just let it marinate for about half an hour..


In another pan
Add a tsp of butter
And 2 tsp of groundnut oil
And just add the peppers and stir fry them..
Add 2 tbsp of oyster sauce and a tsp of a soya sauce..
Let it sauté for about 3 minutes , then add 1/2 a cup of water and cook for about 3-5 minutes more, or till the water is reduced and you get a nice sauce..

Take it off the fire.

Keep aside

In a non stick pan over very high heat.

Sear the fish with a tbsp of butter and 2 tbsps of ground nut oil, on either side about a minute each..

Then lower the heat to medium..
Add chili flakes while frying the fish .
Add 2 tbsp of oyster sauce.. 
Then let it cook on a medium flame for about 5 minutes or till your fillet is cooked..
Add a tbsp of XO sauce and take it off the fire...

I did not have spring onions or basil..

Or tiny red chillies..
But I think if you do add it , it will be awesome..

Serve hot..

The amazing thing about using cod is that it's texture is very soft and fleshy and it takes in the flavouring of the marinade very easily ...

Sometimes in life I think if we are able to adapt to everything changing around us without putting up a fight ,it sometimes help..
I'm not saying give into stuff that is ridiculous and that goes against your grain..
But sometimes you have to let be..

I think all of us have a path..
And if you find people walking the same path with you ..
Great ....
It's always nice to walk with wonderful company..
But it's also nice to discover your own company..
And the best way ...
Is to introduce you to yourself..

Sometimes hanging in your own company..
Fine tunes your soul..

So while I served food and Zeke went into over drive about the aroma of the food..
While Zene was trying to say stuff with her mouth stuffed with fish..
And my parents were wondering why there is no rice or noodles...
(well I then tossed the pasta in some sesame oil, with some chili flakes)
My daddy looked relieved ..
He had that look on his face,that said, " crazy people have no clue what a meal should be like " ha ha ha

I pierced my fork into a steaming fillet..
Soft, succulent and full of the toasty flavour of the sesame.. The subtle spice of the Xo sauce enlightened my taste buds..
This felt good..
This recipe worked..
I really did not know how this was going to taste..
But it was good, it had the right amount of flavouring and consistency

And so you may not always know where you are..
But that does not mean that you are lost..
You need to always go with your heart...
Take a few risks without thinking too much..
But yes do not hurt anyone..

And when in doubt COOK...
At least that's what I do ..
 I love to cook........regardless..

So here's presenting "Zen'd Fish with peppers and xoxo" ...piping hot and so subtly flavoured...
 It's almost like when you look into someone's eyes and then break into a smile that unexplainable..

With lots of love only from "Maria's Kitchen"...