The 60 Hour Cooking Journey

I always believe it’s important to share the positives and negatives of my family’s cooking journey.

Many years ago, my son returned home during his winter break from University, and he was clearly hungry. Spending 4 months in a dormitory, not having access to Indian food, not having a vehicle, and no indian tiffin service around, he often had rather standardized meals as a vegetarian consisting of:

  • Cereal
  • Rice and Ketchup
  • Sandwiches
  • Pizza

Some of us may identify with him, especially during moments of international travel to places that aren’t particularly vegetarian friendly. 

I was completely lost for options, until our domestic helper stepped in. She suggested my son start cooking in a rice cooker. 

The first question that springs to mind is, how does that work?

The answer was simple. Indian cooking fundamentally starts off with the three basics of cooking:

  1. Oil and jeera
  2. Frying onions
  3. Frying tomatoes
  4. Cooked vegetables
  5. Spices

Our domestic help, who had a college diploma, suggested that we can fry onions, tomatoes and jeera within a rice cooker. We have a secret spice mix (watch out for that post soon), and with that spice mix, he could easily re-create the same food we have at home

So he went back to his university, bought a rice cooker, extra virgin olive oil (we learnt far too late of the importance of smoking points we discussed in a previous blog post), and here was the final product.

Making Kadhi did not take 60 hours, but he applied the same success to Rajma. And ultimately, this was his journey to making Rajma:

  1. Soak Rajmah overnight. He would typically start this process on a thursday night.
  2. Put the Rajmah for boiling – he would typically start this process after class on friday evening
  3. Saturday morning, he would start frying the onions. It would take about 2-3 hours, before he added the tomatoes.
  4. By Saturday evening he had managed to fry the onions, tomatoes and jeera.
  5. Overnight, he left the food in the common area of the dorm
  6. On Sunday morning, he had fresh Rajma.

Unfortunately, after all this, he purchased rice from restaurants, because he was too exhausted to cook Rajmah in a rice cooker.

This is a similar process we follow today, but we have the benefit of a gas powered stove and pressure cooker, something which he severely lacked many years ago.

I share this experience with the wider community to help convince everyone, you don’t need a weekly tiffin service to cook Indian food. You can find yourself in a hotel or dorm room, and there is always an option to self-cook Indian food. With an insta-pot, I’m sure it will be a far simpler journey than what my son did more than a decade ago.

Kanchan is an immigrant to Vancouver BC and is the founder of Swad Anusar, a Vancouver based Vegetarian Tiffin Service with a focus on nutritious meals made with fresh vegetables, just like you would if you were cooking for yourself.

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