Fauda in the kitchen. The @spalifekainaz takeover of the #FinelyChoppedKitchen: Finely Chopped Covid-19 Lockdown Journal 17

The chicken wings rendang curry

Saturday, 18th April 2020, was when K took over the kitchen for a day. It turned out to be a never ending day of work for her in the kitchen and unending supply of deliciousness for me.

Baby Loaf decided to supervise things at the start as he was a bit puzzled about what was happening. He is used to seeing Dady Loaf cook and Mummy Loaf sweep and swop and hang the clothes from the washing machine and run the dish washer.

"Is all ok padrone," he seemed to look at me and ask in a Narcos Mexico-like manner.

It was not! I was down with a terrible bad back pain that day and K had rushed in to take charge of things.

Mummy Loaf is cooking!!!!!

He observed her for a bit and then decided that things were in good hands and went off to the sleep on the window AC unit in the box grill in study. What we call the Buddha lounge as we have kept the statue of the Buddha given to us by our friend Niloufer there.

The boy has a good eye as born out by the food that followed. I did a bit of the recipe dispensing but the execution was all K's and that is what matters at the end.


Chicken sausage, pesto & parmesan leftover breakfasts

For breakfast on Saturday it was toast butter. With a bit of the chicken sausage, that I had saved and kept from the fusilli Alfredo DIY kit sent by Smoke House Deli, Bandra, sandwiched in.  Along with some of the parmesan and pesto from the kit. The kit per se was quite a good idea during these Covid times in my opinion, but more on that in a later post.

A refreshingly different start from our omelette, egg roll, boiled egg, fried egg, scrambled egg and French toass,t #finelychoppedbreakfasts morning regime.


Microwave sheddo dal, shingdana chutney bhindi with K

For lunch K made the microwave masoori dal that my mother had taught her just after our marriage and that she just loves. Yesterday it was pre-soaked orange masoor dal mixed with water, turmeric, salt, red chilli powder and Nigella seeds, microwaved for about 20 minutes. We often finely chopped onion, tomato and ginger to it too.

She made bhindi (okra) with the singdana chutney that I got from Chitale Bandhu in Pune. A recipe I have taught Banu earlier. As always, K took the recipe from me, then googled for recipes and then came and told me, "the recipe is the same as yours."

As always, I replied in a very Obi Wan tone, "there are but a few basic techniques in a kitchen and these are used to make multiple dishes."

The result was outstanding and this is the recipe that she followed: Heat oil, add a green chilli, add chopped ladies fingers, then salt and cumin powder, a bit of aamchur (dry mango powder) to prevent the bhindi from sticking and stir. The aamchur bit was based on something that she read in the internet about how introducing an acidic element helps prevent bhindi from sticking. It worked. When almost done, add the singdana chutney (dried crushed peanuts tossed in chilli powder ) and stir. 

To complete the meal was the leftover red rice from what I had made a couple of days back. The last of the red rice at home. And some red mango pickle from Ram Bandhu, Nasik.


Ajwain parathas as a star. With rendang curry and channa paneer.

K made dinner before lunch too so that she would be done with the day's cooking, but that was not to be. More on that later.

"See what's around you in the kitchen and cook with it," has been my cooking philosophy from way before the lockdown and it is of particular use now. That was my idea behind our dinner which K executed.

There were chicken wings in the fridge. 100 ml of the coconut milk from the pack I had used to make the Kerala chicken stew the other night. A couple of days back we found the rendang curry paste that K had got back from KL when she had gone there for a shoot. That was put to use.

The following is what she followed for our lunch. She sauteed the chicken wings in oil. Added the curry paste. Then water (the recipe on the pack called for adding meat at the point instead of earlier). Followed by coconut milk a while later before the finish.

The result was delicious and the curry reminded me a bit of the nihari of old Delhi, the rassa of the kombdi rassa of Malvan and the chicken curry served with parathas in the cabins, canteens and Moghali restaurants of Kolkata.

Rendang originates from Indonesia it is said and the word means slow cooked. It is a big part of Malay cooking too and I have had it at Langkawai at the Berjaya breakfast buffet where I paired it with the roti canai (maida paratha) on offer. This was a beef rendang and it did not have much sauce. The combination reminded me of the paratha kosha mangsho of Kolkata. 

The memory of this almost made me go to Benzer Store's at Turner Road and look for the ID Fresh Malabar parathas. Then I changed my mind and decided to stay home and soak rice to have with the rendang curry.

That is when the intercom rang. The Punjabis had come to the rescue once again. Our friends, the Grovers, had most kindly sent a stack of freshly made parathas and channa paneer for us. The ajwain parathas were made with aata (unrefined flour) no doubt and not maida (refined flour) unlike in roti canai, but did go very well the chicken wings rendang curry which we had while watching Fauda on Netflix.

Kitchen Fauda (chaos)

Poor K thought that she was done with cooking and we both napped after lunch and then got up to see that the freezer in the fridge had stopped working. The ice cubes, which she had gone to take out to apply on my back, had melted and that is how we realised what had happened.

There was a pack of kheema (minced meat) in the freezer and some boneless chicken thighs and few pieces of mutton and they would all go bad if we did not do something. I, unfortunately, was of no use as I was out of action. K swooped in like Doron in the serial.

She made a kheema fry with the green peas and kheema from the freezer. I had this for breakfast along with toast on Monday morning as you can see in the pictures above. 'Better than Banu's' she said and I agree. It was miraculously juicy for minced chicken.

I suggested parboiling the chicken and mutton and keeping that in the fridge. K did so and the chicken went into a sandwich for me in the evening.

(In case you are wondering, the new season of Fauda has started on Netflix. We watch that, Atul Khatri's 'only positive news' on Instagram and Pancahayat on Amazon Prime every night these days.

The morning after (Sunday)

Boiled chicken sandwich on Sunday

The nett morning K shredded some boiled chicken and mixed it with butter, salt, pepper and mustard and made a lovely sandwich filling. I sat to eat, just as a technician suggested by our neighbours thankfully came to fix the fridge. Thankfully, he did so and without any drama. The bread was the La Folie Harvest Grain bread.

The previous night I took some medication and also chanted to get better in the morning so that I could help and sure enough, I was much better on Sunday. I even heated the channa and paratha for our lunch. Something that seemed unthinkable the night before because of the pain. I do not know if your Sunday lunches during the lockdown are any different from your weekday meals or where the days just blend into each other. Thanks to Anu and Manoj Grover, ours was full of Punjabi tashan (joy de vivre). I poured out some Amul lassi to have it with.

Paratha with channa paneer

Baby Loaf woke up when K and I came to the study to work after lunch. I kneaded my baby kulcha dough when he came up from the box window where he was napping.

I sat to write once I was through playing with my little stress ball of fur. I could hear the birds sing once again. 

Kneading the dough
                                                      What to make with the dough

PS 1: Inspector Gadget

I was better enough yesterday to make grilled toast sandwich with vegetables for the watchmen and me in the evening. There is a family in our building who give them both meals from what I understand, which is really wonderful. Some of us try to keep some refreshments going as it is the watchmen in our building who help us stay safe inside during the lockdown. From what I gather on my Instagram feed, many others are doing this. Kindness and compassions starts by trying to help the person in front of us and I sure that they are many of you who are doing a lot more. Every little bit counts.

At night I made microwave moong dal for the first time and that turned out very well.

Pre-soaked moong dal, chopped tomatoes, turmeric, cumin and black pepper powder, salt and lots of water, microwaved together for 30 minutes. I could have added some ghee but added Jharna ghee at the end instead with the dal and rice.

I made grilled alu bhaaja in the griller for the first time too last night. Sliced round the way didu (my granny) used to make it when we were kids. Smeared in turmeric, salt and black pepper and put into a Gowardhan greased griller for about 20 minutes. Turned out super.

PS 2: Lockdown leftover festival

We made good use of the leftover chicken wings rendang today (Monday) by adding some stock to it and heating it and adding a deem sheddo (boiled egg) to make it stretch. 

It made for what we would call in Bengali a malai curry (Malay curry) and a fabulous one at that. I had it with the rice from yesterday and K had it with a paratha.

PS3: Baby Loaf's stories

He came in to our bedroom at 4 today. Snuggled between us. Then K dishes out a pre-breakfast for him at the hall.
He came back at 7.30 am and meowed till we got the message. I went to the hall and dished our breakfast for him. Wet food this time.
He slept again and woke up when we’re having breakfast and had a little nibble as brunch from his bowl.

After a day and a half I finally let Baby Loaf go out during lunch on Monday. He went to our yard and I later found him outside the door of our neighbours the Badami where he goes and plays. I picked him and got him up and cleaned him with a kitty wipe. Covered with soot. A puddle of mess as K says. Then gave him a cat treat which he licked off my fingers too. That's in the video above.