Monday, January 12, 2015

The Essence of Time

This is a recent article published in The Hindu, about my book, Quick Cook.

If you’re waging a battle with the clock while preparing food every day, then this cookbook is for you

Master of Menus: Sabita Radhakrishna. Photo: M. Karunakaran
Sabita Radhakrishna is used to starting trends. She pioneered the boutique concept in Chennai with Amrapali. Then she went from being a gifted home cook to cookbook author in what she calls, a “happy mistake that I never meant to make.” Now she’s launched her latest cookbook, The Quick Cook.
It all starts with the basics. “Pre-preparation is the backbone of quick cooking,” Sabita writes. She says, “I’ve provided recipes for basic masala powders in this book. Make it ahead and refrigerate it — you never know when it’ll come in handy.”
Sketched out as a series of menus, the book is all about preparing a meal within 60 minutes. “It’s the ultimate lesson on time management, targeted towards the younger, working audience who don’t have time to make a balanced meal,” she says.
While each menu promises a balanced, nutritious meal in just an hour or less, the menus also contain standalone dishes. If you doubt your ability to cook a 60-minute meal don’t worry: it has been tried and tested. “My niece became a quick cook after I wrote this book because for every recipe, we would go into the kitchen and set the alarm. Sixty minutes exactly, with only a recipe in hand. It was a pleasant surprise when some of them took even less time!”
Then again, not every recipe can live up to the claim, and Sabita knows it. “None of the desserts have time estimations. Baking is an exact science, and my desserts are no different.”
Ladling out a spinach-and-corn tart for us to try gives an idea of what the book holds. Sabita showcases some continental delights but doesn’t neglect the home favourites like rava dosai and Kancheepuram idli.
And for the strict vegetarians there are substitutions. Helpful hints pepper the end of many menus; notes that Sabita has taken while preparing the meals herself.
So what’s in the works next? Another cookbook of course. “I don’t mean to write any of them. They happen by chance... Just when I think I’m done, another request comes. And I love food too much to say no.”
The Quick Cook is priced at Rs. 399.

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