parents – a passion for food and the culinary arts. Growing up in Mumbai, I was always at the table when my parents had dinners for family and friends. And I helped as they spent days planning, shopping and preparing these feasts. Home was a place where cookbooks took up more shelves than novels and cooking shows took precedence over TV serials.
Mine was a family that travelled the world on their plates. My father took me with him to new restaurants every week and I never missed a chance to peek into the kitchen and admire his idols – the chefs. My mom held different cooking classes at home and I was allowed to help out. The first time I actually made something was when I was around eight - chocolate popsicles that were hard as rocks and yet my father had them and encouraged me.
Despite being a chef, I am very impressed by people who cook at home despite their hectic schedules. It isn't all that difficult, you know. Preparing meals at home is good for your health and your pocket too. But there is no denying the fact that with minimal free time and other priorities taking up space in our schedules, spending hours or even minutes in the kitchen isn’t always at the top of our to-do lists.There are a few dishes that you can easily rustle up at home within 10 minutes. My secret is to always have the refrigerator stocked with some pre-cooked items - perhaps done in the morning or afternoon - so that the actual dinner preparation saves time. Here are five European dishes that are really easy to make. Do try them out and tell me how they were received on your table. Happy Cooking!
1. Shrimp and Salmon Mousse
30 gm dill, finely chopped
100 gm cucumber, cubed
100gm smoked salmon, chopped
100gm crème fraiche
40gm Philadelphia cheese
Salt to taste
1. Cook the shrimps, then chill and dice.
2. Mix smoked salmon, cucumber and dill along with a dash of lemon juice. Check seasoning.
3. Refrigerate this mixture and place a quenelle on top of fresh salad leaves and shrimps, and garnish with fennel and pickled cucumbers. Serve chilled.
2. Pan Fried Polenta
This needs some preparation, though once the polenta is cooked, frying it is a matter of minutes.
900ml vegetable stock
Few sprigs thyme
2-3 garlic pods
A handful of chopped parsley
1. Bring the stock to boil. Add the polenta and finely chopped thyme and garlic. Check seasoning.
2. Turn the flame low and let the polenta cook. Keep whisking. Once the polenta is cooked, pour in a container and set. Allow to cool down. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Cut into wedges or as desired and sear in a pan with hot oil. Serve hot with mayonnaise.
3. Steamed Garlic Edamame
4-5 garlic pods, chopped
Sea salt to taste
1. Blanch edamame in boiling hot water for a minute.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and add garlic, just as the butter starts foaming.
3. Drain the edamame and add to the butter once the garlic has browned a little bit. Toss thoroughly. Sprinkle sea salt. Serve hot. You may add a small splash of soy sauce and sprinkle some sesame seeds.
4. Caponata on Toast
1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini
1 small aubergine
1 red and yellow peppers each
30ml olive oil
500gm Pomodoro tomatoes
200ml red wine
Few thyme sprigs
2-3 garlic pods
1. Dice all the vegetables and sauté in a hot pan for a minute. Add half the thyme and season. Chill.
2. Heat a bit of oil in a pan and lightly sweat the onions. Add the pomodoro tomatoes. Bring the wine to a boil in a separate pan and add to the tomatoes. Add thyme and garlic.
3. Let this mix thicken out, by stirring. Now lightly fold in the vegetables and serve on top of toast with torn basil leaves.
5. Gambas al Pil Pil
50ml olive oil
90ml Pomace oil
A pinch of paprika
A pinch of chilli flakes
10gm chopped garlic
5gm chopped parsley
20ml chicken stock
1. In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil and add all the spices and garlic. Increase the heat and add the prawns. Cook on both sides for a minute. Season.
2. Add a splash of the chicken stock and serve sizzling hot with a loaf of crusty bread.
It is said that one's childhood influences mould the course of an individual's life. I inherited a rich legacy from my