Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm Turning MIL Into A Master Chef

Yeah okay so maybe not a true master chef because I'm sure she would never eat any other meat but mutton and chicken and even those she eats very sparsely. But, she is turning into a fancier home cook.

Before I came here to live hubby talked a lot about not wanting to eat his moms food. She's not a bad cook but almost everything was cooked in the pressure cooker or kadai (wok). Hubby hates for his veggies to be mushy or slimy and so he just didn't like the food. MIL (I gather) wanted her cooking to be simple and easy and not have to spend any more time in the kitchen than necessary. I can't blame her, I feel the same way after cooking down there in the spring - I can't even imagine how horrible it must be in the summer because they kept me out of there so I didn't pass out (because that almost happened a few times in the spring).

Now I've come here and she sometimes watches cooking shows with me and she spends time with me in the kitchen. Sometimes we are both in there cooking at the same time and we learn from each other while picking on hubby. (Because life wouldn't be nearly as much fun if we didn't!) I'm learning some things about making flat breads and until recently I thought she was the one teaching me.

Last week before leaving for Delhi we busted MIL and FIL having a quiet dinner together and noticed that she had fixed a salad like mine. Now, her salads were always a typical Indian "green salad" consisting of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and maybe some parsnip depending on the season. My salad is diced tomatoes, green capsicum (green pepper to you US ppl), onion and a sprinkle of salt. Let that sit and the flavors meld together to give you a kind of salsa flavor that is amazingly fresh and delightful. MIL was a little shy about it and we all got a good laugh out of it when she said FIL insisted on having that kind of salad every day now.

Then last night I went down to cook the zucchini I scored at HyperCity and when I walked in the kitchen I had to really think about if I had already started something. There were eggplants (brinjl) on the counter that had been sliced and salted. I started this lol. I do that to get the moisture out of the eggplant so it produces a firmer veggie after being cooked. Hubby was right behind me and he thought I had been cooking too. We both got a little laugh and he asked his mom and she said she did it and she was going to make pakoras that way. It was so freaking exciting and cute too. I guess she's been watching and paying attention after all.

Of course these are not the only things I've noticed. She's taken to using the oven quite well and she seems to like the cookware I picked out better than her old stuff so she's definitely learning new ways of cooking things but those just didn't strike me as anything funny or interesting. Maybe it's because I'm the same way and I would be very into using new stuff and techniques. But the cooking thing, those are my trademarks and apparently I've now warped the family into liking healthier and fresher foods.

This feels really good because it means I'm fitting in better than I think. That's a really hard thing about moving to a new country and integrating into a new family. Finding your place and where you fit in is really difficult and now I know I'm making progress. It's good that we can all learn from each other and the family is so receptive to me. It definitely makes my transition feel better. Anyone else here successfully changed their new family's habits?


  1. if you use salt to dehydrate brinjals, wouldn't it suck out all the vitamins too ? seems no point in eating it then ..

  2. Okay now you made me have to google. (not complaining lol but I was curious) As it turns out salt curing like this doesn't decrease nutritional value. It does however prevent spoiling and reduces the chance of unhealthy bacteria growing in the food. This of course doesn't matter for the brinjl since it won't spoil in 30 minutes but I still found that interesting.

    A long time ago this was actually a valid way of preparing food for storage so people wouldn't starve to death during the off season and the method is still used for curing meat and veggies (known as processed food) though when commercially done it takes enzymes out of the food that our body needs (because they also add chemicals with the salt). Fascinating stuff.

  3. makes sense. a large amount of vitamins in a vegetable is in the skin. and curing by salt presumably doesn't affect the skin ... so not much loss of nutritional value.

    the Indian way of cooking by peeling all the vegetables irritate me no end for precisely this reason. even the veggies which need never be peeled like carrots and radishes are peeled before cooking. ... we eat just the roughage of veggies it seems. no difference if we just munch grass. and where the roughage (fiber) should be really eaten (eg in wheat, rice) we seem to refine them out of all the real nutrients. yuck !

  4. You and I have similar tastes in food then. I rarely peel anything, including potatoes and I eat brown rice and wheat grains because I like them better as well. I don't understand why some people cook vegetables to death or strip away all the good parts either, it's not as good for you and makes cooking more difficult than it has to be.

  5. This is such a cute post. How nice that A. you and your MIL cook together and B. she observes and enjoys learning new things. I haven't changed any habits in my husband's family but I have managed to cut down his intake of red meat and in the process reduced his bad cholesterol by 100! Needless to say, I am thrilled :) :)

  6. Bringing down his cholesterol is huge! Do you have him taking any garlic supplements or anything? Those are supposed to be good for helping lower cholesterol as well. I worry about my hubby sometimes because even though he's taking to some of the new foods and doesn't care if I change the oil and such he's still addicted to junk foods and he loves his greasy, ghee covered foods too much. I have him taking the garlic already and he doesn't even have high cholesterol.

  7. That's really sweet.

  8. Sorry about the late response. I was on vacation :)

    Okay so I didn't have him take any supplements. He ate oatmeal (in soy milk) for breakfast every morning and went for a 5 - 8 mile run almost every day. He also drastically cut down his meat intake and eliminated red meat altogether. But I must say that he only made these changes because the doctor threatened to put him on Lipitor!!!! He's only 30 and didn't want such strong medication. He's now lost 30 lbs, gained muscle, reduced his body fat % to 12 and looks 5 years younger :)

  9. That's fantastic then! Hope he keeps up the good work.