The pandemic post from last week gave rise to a question about the culinary journeys we have undertaken so far. And that became the inspiration for this post.
As with many others during the pandemic, our fridge and pantry have been replete with healthy foods, plenty of colorful veggies and fruits, tofu, and dairy. We based menus on what was available in the pantry with an occasional preplanning. What I enjoyed most was the stress free cooking, and the fact that I had a sous chef or three to help. Or that I could be the sous chef for a change, as the children took over some meals.
Cooking did not figure in a big way, for most of my life. That’s not to say that I haven’t been cooking. Just that it hasn’t been a passion of mine, until the last few years. While I wouldn’t label myself as a foodie or a chef, over time I have learnt to appreciate a variety of cuisines and tried to adapt them to our way of life. Of late, I see a lot of similarities between life’s journey and creating a meal. Both need a certain amount of planning, forethought, creativity, improvisation, patience and maturity. Both require the perfect mix of flavors, in the form of people and experiences or veggies and spices. Both have their nuances, that can be enjoyed in many ways. Life and food are both mundane in many ways and extraordinary in others. To embrace both to the fullest, is the goal at the moment.
One of the many fun discoveries during these journeys were the amazing number of food blogs, and YouTube channels on cooking. Often, I came across many variations on a recipe and was forced to decide which one came closest. For the first time in my life, I spent precious minutes watching YouTube videos of a particular dish. And didn’t feel harried or guilty about it. After all, there were no classes to chauffeur to, no after-school events to attend, no parties to go to. Stress free! I could get used to this life!!
Here are some of the dinner table travels we have undertaken. Some were inspired by food we had tasted during our travels. Others, by favorite restaurants menus. Still others were spur-of-the-moment decisions based on what was displayed at the grocery store.
Homemade vegetarian burger patties
Sonny JJ is a huge burger fan. So we found this recipe from Inspired Taste, that we tried. True to their word, we had thick, juicy, crisp and healthy burgers for dinner tonight. We substituted extra firm spicy tofu instead of mushrooms as we are not huge fans of the fungus. And added other vegetables like zucchini, beetroot and green bell peppers.
Briam and Spanakorizo, Greece
Thanks to our guide, Makis, we enjoyed a wealth of Mama’s cooking in Greece. And felt inspired to recreate a couple of them. Briam is a great way to use leftover vegetables. And the spinach rice (spanakorizo) made use of few simple ingredients but was loaded with taste.
Spicy braised tofu (Dubu-jorim) and stir fried rice, Korean
I accidentally came across Korean chef, Maangchi’s website and YouTube channel. I like her style of talking and the precise way in which she cooks. And with tofu being Missy JJ’s favorite, she made this dinner for us one night. We ordered Gochugaru (red chilli powder flakes) on Amazon and it wasn’t too spicy.
Mujjadara plate with falafel, hummus and tzatziki, Lebanese
A long time ago we lived in Cleveland where we enjoyed the Mujjadara plate at the famous Aladdin’s eatery. So we tried to recreate this simple yet tasty rice and lentils dish. I followed the instructions on the YouTube video below and it came out quite close to the original. The fried onions added a heap of flavor and were worth the time it took to fry them. The falafel and hummus were from the Inspired Taste website. Missy JJ followed this recipe for the Tzatziki dip.
Sphagetti with baked veggie koftas, fusion
Our friend’s circle decided to do a week of fun fusion foods and this was Mr. JJ’s recipe. The two of us baked the koftas while the kids made the sphagetti, following Gigi Hadid’s vodka pasta post, minus the vodka. The homemade pasta sauce worked well with the slightly spicy kofta balls.
Influenced by our local Korean franchise, Burning Rice, the kids and I set out to recreate the flavors at home, thanks to Maangchi’s excellent tutorials and Gochujang paste that we ordered on Amazon. The only thing missing was the stoneware bowls they’re served in. We skipped the bell flower root, fernbrake and of course, the meat and eggs. But the final taste came close to the ones at the restaurant.
Sweet potatoes and beans taco, guacamole with mango salsa, Mexican
Vegetable paella, Spanish
For a long time now, I have wanted to taste paella and was looking forward to our trip to Spain. But since that didn’t come through, I decided to try the recipe at home. I went through many and finally followed this video from The Happy Pear. I used Hoisin sauce instead of Tamari.
Vegetable leek soup, Irish
The fresh leeks caught my eye one day while shopping and I thought they would make the perfect soup for a cool morning. Combined with the spice from the paella, they made a perfect combination.
Bombay Masala toast, Indian
Mumbai is famous for street foods and the Masala Toast is one of its absolute tastiest. We finally put the panini maker to good use making the recipe, from Chef Ranveer Brar. This a great picnic food as well.
Thavala Adai, Indian
Now, this is a great Indian savory pancake but not very commonly known or made. So when my friend LV, who blogs at NammaThaligai, posted this photo, I couldn’t help but try it out. Skeptical that the kids would like it, I asked them to figure out some other dinner for themselves. To my sheer amazement and delight, they absolutely loved it and we barely had enough to go around. In fact, the food went so fast, I had no time to even click a photo!
These were just some of the many new recipes we have tried. Hope you enjoyed looking through them, perhaps you have tried some or many yourself. Share some of your favorite travel inspired foods and recipes.