Sunday, June 8, 2008

Payt Pooja: INDIAN COOKING ABROAD

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I don't know any country other than India where so much work, thought and effort goes into Payt Pooja. The variety of Indian dishes never runs out, with each state contributing it's own infinite choices. For those of you who don’t know what the words mean, Payt is stomach and Pooja is worship. When I was in school we would jokingly say: It is time for Payt Pooja, which meant ‘Time to Eat’.
Now we are all aware that what we put into our stomachs pays us back in health and quality of life...no one knows that better than me, now a diabetic balancing diet, exercise and rest every day to lead a healthy life. So Payt Pooja is not a joke any more…focus and serious attention to what goes into our stomachs, makes life good or otherwise.

Cooking has always been a great interest with me since I watched my mother in the kitchen, supervising the cook, or cooking herself. AS a child, like so many others,I rolled small chappattis for my dolls on a tiny rolling board and played 'cooking' with my small utensils. My interest grew when I started taking cooking as a subject at 14, in St. Mary's School, Pune, India. Under the watchful eye of Sister Rita Mary, I learned to bake, grill and cook English dishes,and study nutrition. The dishes I took home were praised by my father and loved by my younger brother. Their support raised my confidence level. At home my mother tried to get me to help the cook with breakfast so I could learn more. I started a cookbook in which I diligently wrote down my mother's recipes.

Cooking didn't become top priority with me till I got to the States, 30 years ago. I realized the only way we would have the wonderful food I had taken for granted as a child, young adult and pre-marriage, was if I made it. Once that shock wore off (and it was a shock, believe me), I found another in store for me: lack of Indian ingredients. I still haven't forgiven HD (Hubby Dearest) for the comment he made in India to my mother: "We get EVERYTHING in America". My darling mother believed him and I came out with nothing but a packet of her amazing sambar powder. Fortunately, for him and for me, HD knew enough to show me substitutes for ingredients, and I soon worked in some tricks of my own. I discovered my mother, an army wife, had passed on the trait of managing with what was on hand, to me. Once a year HD took me to Chicago and we loaded up on dals, beans, rice, flour, sooji, masalas, oil and everything else we might need for the next twelve months.
Now, luckily for us, we live in an area where we get 99% of all that is available in India.

The children have grown and flown, proof that I was cooking for them... not using them as guinea pigs (they thought that at one time). HD too is well, all things considered, though he's never lost the habit of looking at anything new I make with suspicion and saying, "What IS that?"

Diabetes now limits my ability to do a lot in the kitchen, but I still love trying out new dishes and improving old ones. Suddenly it seems very important to learn the BEST way of making the same old stuff. What I want to do on this site is, first: join this wonderful group of talented cooks from whom I'm learning so much, second: in an effort to give back and help others, test recipes from different online sites,cookbooks,shows etc. like I do now, and publish the best one, giving the author and originator of the recipe full credit, third: share my tried and true family recipes.
The best recipe will be the one with the most concise directions to understand and follow, and the one that produces the best results where taste is concerned...those overdeveloped taste buds we of Indian origin cultivate since early childhood, will settle for nothing less. I will also let you know if I change the recipe in any way. Besides all this, I will also mention here other blogs that catch my eye for set up, layout, design, content…there are some outstanding ones that deserve mention.
And I will keep on with my funny stories, so stop by for a visit often.

With good thoughts from me to you…happy cooking…

Geeta Aunty

12 comments:

Michelle said...

What an entertaining and informative site. I am so impressed! Thanks mom. You are a wonderful cook, and this is the perfect way to share your tried and true recipes.

V said...

This is a great way to reach out international students with little cooking experience. I sure am going to try this out.

Jon said...

Nice that you a site to post your recipes, Mom.

V said...

I tried this dosa recipe out. DELICIOUS!!!

prem said...

I am so glad you started this!! It's going to be a great help to all the people in the USA, that I was mailing recipies to.

Deepa said...

Really nice Geetha aunty! You've really brought dosa making down to a science..:-)
Will surely try out your recipe and let you know how it turns out in the hands of a novice in the kitchen...
Till then keep those recipes coming in!

Jon said...

Hi Mom, It's nice that you have a site to post all your tasty recipes. -Sham

Daisy said...

I am looking forward to seeing more. Thanks Geeta, your kids said it, you are a great cook.

Daisy

Mary said...

HI Geetha.. we tried out the Blancmange recipe yesterday.. It came out pretty nice but maybe the sugar can be increased a bit more...

Deepa said...

Hello Geetha aunty...
First time I am reading about this Blancmange pudding... I love trying out different desserts .. so i just did some more research on the dish and ..there are just so many variations to it...u can try adding a little strong coffee decoction to it instead of vanilla for a coffee Blancmange..or u can add some melted chocolate or cocoa powder for a chocolate Blancmange....or just use your own imagination and experiment with different essences and colours!

whitefieldbb@gmail.com said...

Thanks everybody for your comments and encouragement.
Your support is the wind between my wings.

Geeta/Aunty/Mom

jag said...

Hi Aunty, I really enjoyed reading your recipes as I'm always goggling for new and easier ways to cook. Thank you so much for the tips and I really liked your web design as well. It is very clear and pleasant to read.