Inside? Outside? Or Inside Outside? How does your kitchen look during the lockdown? Finely Chopped Covid-19 Journal 21

Changa si. Repurposed shahi paneer, cheat's peas pulao and amazing green moong torka by K

The journey of an inside outside cat

We got to know of the term inside outside cat thanks to Baby Loaf. He used to live 'outside' when we first found him. On the staircase of our building. I do suspect that he was raised by humans before that and then perhaps abandoned. We took him in or rather he adopted us. Our house is his house. This is 'inside.'  He loves to go outside. As long as he does, he will be an 'inside outside' cat. Based on the advise of our vet, we hope to make him a fully inside cat.

Does working from home ever stop?

Despite being an 'outside' cat originally, he only likes to eat packaged good (dear well meaning cat parents please don't rush in with your 'cat food does horrible things' DMs). I tried cooking chicken and rice for him on the Bengali new year based on an internet recipe. He just had two bites of it. Some of our friends said that their cats have only the chicken and keep the rice aside. Today I boiled a piece of boneless chicken and liver and mashed it in the broth and made a sort of stew. Served it to Loaf, as K and I call him, and sat with trepidation. Waiting to see if this would cut ice.

Will he? Won't he?

The little tyke had half the bowl. I felt like a character in Hell's Kitchen to whom Gordon Ramsey had given a rare nod of approval at the pass!

The Inside Outside Kitchen

You could say that our kitchen has been a bit of an inside outside kitchen during the Covid-19 Lockdown. We are trying to cook as much at home as possible. For reasons of safety.

Our cook cum help, Banu, has been given a paid leave so it is all on our heads for the moment.

I do most of the cooking. K occasionally steps and has rendered some really delicious food of late.

She does most of the other house help and my weak lower back puts me at a disadvantage there but I am really hoping that I can help her more because her work load at office is pretty huge.

We do occasionally call in for food from restaurants. When we cannot manage at all. This is the last recourse.

The trust factor

Breads and cookies from the The Village Shop, bandra, Today

We choose restaurants we trust. Especially during these times of the Covid-19 Pandemic where hygiene and safety are of prime importance.

What drives trust? Our prior experience with the place for sure. If we know the owners, management, the people behind the food, then that adds to the sense of assurance. Most places that we order from fit that criteria. These are neighbourhood places because of distribution issues. In most cases delivered by Swiggy. Not that we order often.

In the case of main meals, it is Khane Khas primarily that we call from. A place which has been our kitchen away from home for the last twenty years. We have known its owners Hardeep Chadha and Atul Sahni for years and regard them as quasi family.

We needs breads for breakfast and snacks. We order from Baker's Dozen or pick them up from their shop if I am out on work as it is just round the corner. We had met the couple that runs it at the start close to a decade back and know that they are serious and sincere about bread. We go for their multigrain bread. K has become a fan of their dark chocolate cookies and I order those too. Our favourite La Folie breads are back in Bandra and are stocked at Koinonia cafe. Owner chef Sanjana Patel told me that these days she is baking the bread herself at night and is worn out at the end of it. Her husband, Parthesh, takes the breads for delivery in the morning. We often order their Harvest Grain bread these days. This morning I ordered for a multigrain bread from The Village Shop which is baked by Javed Malick. His wife, Jennifer Malick, bakes the cakes and cookies and I called in for a double chocolate gluten free (they are an organic and health focused place) for Kainaz too. Jenny and Javed, who own the place, are friends of ours by now and are people we trust. I also pick Bimbo bread from the grocer and buy A1 Bakery bread from the anda pav vala.

We take all precautions such as transferring the food immediately into home utensils, washing hands for 20 seconds in soap and at times applying sanitiser too. Heating the food as far as possible. We even wear masks when we go down to pick the food at the gate. Using Swiggy makes it contactless and no currency notes are exchanged.

I made akoori for our breakfast today adding Mangal dhansak masala and the Rajasthani garlic chutney which was home made by the Cauldron Sisters of Jaipur, to ghee as the base for this Parsi scrambled egg. Baby Loaf woke up at that point to say good morning to us. He was napping after wishing us many good mornings earlier at 6 am and 7am and 8.30 am when we fed him too. As is his practise, he had a bite from his bowl on seeing us eat.

Akoori is wet or dry food?

When leftover makeovers are ek dum changa si (top notch stuff)

Shahi paneer and rumali from Khane Khas last night

Last night we were tired and needed a break from cooking and ordered the shahi paneer from Khane Khas, which we fell in love with the last time we ordered it, and rumali roti. The paneer was as soft as the last time. There was a bit of the glorious gravy left at the end. The tanginess and robustness of which reminds me of a butter chicken.

Last time I had added boiled eggs to the leftover gravy and K had it the next day as an egg curry. Today we sauteed some boneless chicken pieces in ghee, salt, julienned gingers and finely chopped green chillies. The latter two were Hardeep when I told him about my plans on Facebook. I then added the curry and a wee bit of water and cooked it for about 5 minutes on a low flame and that was how the sensuous shahi paneer was reborn as the majesti shahi murg. Changa Si as you would say in Punjabi.

When Shahi paneer was reborn as shahi murgh

To go with this, I made a quick fix cheat's peas pulao. I boiled basmati rice and green peas. Then took a ladle put some ghee in it, whole cumin seed, salt, whole cardamom, clove and cinnamon and heated it on gas burner till it sizzled. Added it to the rice. Mixed it. Put it in the microwave for a minute and Bob's your uncle.

Talking of Punjabi food, K made green moong torka for dinner while on work calls this morning. A Kolkata staple which originated in the Punjabi run dhabas of the city. It was so delicious that I could not wait and had a bit with lunch. The lockdown has revealed a whole new side to her. The Kitchen Goddess one. Now I really hope that I can start helping with the more physically demanding housework.

The big hearted Punjabis march in. AKA Anu and Manoj Grover. Much love to you both from Baby Loaf and us

We were wondering what to have with the dal and then as I finished typing, I got a message from our friends Anu and Manoj Grover. They had sent across freshly made parathas, sambar and tons and tons of wet food for Baby Loaf. Our guardian angels as I call them.

That is the story of our inside outside kitchen during the Covid-19 Lockdown. 

How is it for you on the kitchen? Only inside? Or inside outside? Outside?

I spoke to a bachelor friend and senior in the industry for example who has to depend on outside as he just can't keep up with all the housework. He orders food made by local Maharashtrian ladies which he saw his building security folks eat and which is home cooked and of good quality.

Anu's aratha with K's tarka

What's your story? I hope that it is one that fills you too with lots of joy and gratitude at the end of the day like it does to us. Take care.

Stay home. Stay safe. Wear a mask if you go out.

We just finished dinner when our young friend and neighbour came up to give the Philipino
Pluto flan that she had baked and to say hi to Baby Loaf


Great anna...

Enjoy your home.. each every step...

Take care..

Pradeep Rajkumar
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@MelbournePollachi thank you Pradeep Anna and you too :)