“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”~Wolfgang
Killed the workout and the next immediate thought turned to nutrition.
I wanted a complete all in one meal; not a combination of rice or noodles and gravy or sauce made separately.
It takes a while before I can consume solid food post workout, so I utilize that time in the kitchen.
Cooking becomes an extension of my workout. There is a seamless transition between the two.
I take the “state of mind and body” (energy) of the workout and transfer it to cooking. I begin in the kitchen with an elevated heart rate and gradually cool down through the process and relax towards the end.
As opposed to any other time of the day, I’m likely to enjoy cooking the most in this post workout period and with the very same music that fueled the exercise.
First things first – as soon as I hit the kitchen, I set this on shuffle and repeat so I could function effectively. The absence or presence of music makes all the difference in how I experience workout and cooking. (If absent – I don’t. Exercise or cook.)
Most of the time, I don’t have any fixed recipe or a process. Sometimes, I have a clear idea of the end result – the finished dish, but everything really depends upon what I find in the fridge and then, more often than not, it takes a life of its own.
So I found some…
- 250 gms Boneless Chicken
- Chicken Stock Cubes
- 3 Eggs
- Baby Corn
- Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
- Spring Onions
- Green Chillies
- Soy Sauce
- Black Pepper
- Tomato Ketchup
- Red Chili Sauce
- Corn Flour
Washed and chopped up the Chicken. Mixed some vinegar, salt, pepper, ginger, and green chilies in it. Set that aside to marinate for a few minutes while I cleaned and cut up the Veggies.
I take my time during this because I enjoy the cutting. The music slows me down and turns a mundane task into an activity not just tolerable but actually enjoyable.
Every meat or vegetable has a different density and texture and requires different pressure and angle of the blade to get through it. Everyone knows it and rarely gives it a second thought, but it’s the music that makes me keenly aware of it.
I specify this because – if not for the music, I would be inclined to consider the cutting as a mandatory “task” (as opposed to an enjoyable activity) and try to rush my way through it.
I can break down every part of this experience and articulate it, but why digress?
Lemme just summarize that I cook because I like and want to. Not because I need to eat. I’ll only cook before I get hungry. If I’m already hungry – I’ll just order food from out. I’ll never enjoy cooking if there’s an urgency to eat. As with countless others, hunger is likely to make me impatient and irritable. Not the best time for experiments or adventures in the kitchen when Murphy’s law is more likely to prevail…
Enough with the rambling…
Back to the point –
- Boiled about a litre of water with some rock salt thrown in.
- Cooked about 180gm Packet of Hakka Noodles for a few minutes.
- Drained the water and tossed the Noodles in a tablespoon of oil to prevent them from sticking.
Specifically for stir frying – I always use a larger wok / pot than what I think I need.
And almost the entire searing and cooking is done on a high flame while stirring or tossing continuously.
So in order to prevent any of the ingredients from over cooking, the next few steps were covered quite quickly within a span of a few minutes…
- Beat 3 eggs with salt and pepper and made an omelette. Cut it up into small squares and kept aside.
- Tossed chopped Garlic in hot Oil.
- Seared the marinated Chicken after the Garlic.
- Added Baby Corn next and mushrooms soon after.
- Halved Onions and cubed Bell Peppers last because I want them to retain the crunch
- Mixed together Chicken Stock Cube, Black Pepper, Red Chili Sauce, Tomato Ketchup, Soy Sauce in about 300 ml of water. Added this to the wok and as soon as it began boiling…
- Tossed in the cut up Egg.
- Simmered in a heaped tablespoon of Corn Flour dissolved in roughly 150 ml of water.
- Last were the Spring Onion Greens
- Mixed up everything along with the cooked Noodles
- Turned off the flame and covered it up for a while.
I messed up with the noodles because I didn’t foresee or anticipate the fact that – with passage of time, the noodles would keep soaking up the moisture in the sauce and dry up eventually. What I had in mind was not just noodles merely glazed with sauce – but I wanted substantial more presence of the sauce.
Almost always, I lose appetite immediately post cooking. So, I never eat as soon as I finish – I always take a break for a shower and then eat.
I also always cook for the day – 2 meals.
By the time I was done with the shower, most of the sauce had disappeared and the noodles had expanded in thickness. Instead of having sauce in the dish, as apparent in the above picture – they were glazed with it. That’s all.
By the 2nd meal, hours later… the noodles had completely absorbed all of the sauce and were in fact – dry.
I decided to correct this and cooked the same dish the very next day.
I rectified the miscalculation by adding more water to increase the overall quantity of sauce. And to throw in some variable, I replaced the noodles with Basmati Long Grain Rice (cooked using draining the water method.)
So, the Pot Rice turned out slightly better than the Pot Noodles in terms of what I had in mind or how I visualized it should be.
As expected with most of my cooking endeavours, this will turn out much better the next time… and then the time after that.
It almost always takes me about 3 attempts to get it perfectly correct by my standards of how I imagine it should be. So, I could repeat this to get it right… (and I’m likely to do that)… But I’m quite content in leaving it be and trying out something else either way.
I imagine, this would be equally interesting without the chicken and with Cottage Cheese / Paneer or perhaps – even better with Prawns…
I consider “Stir frying” as something to be executed instinctively. If one is aware of basic principles and cooking time of various ingredients, it doesn’t need a specific recipe or meticulously measured portions. I could just toss in whatever is available and use judgement as opposed to precision. Unlikely to go very wrong with this…
Cooking requires confident guesswork and improvisation — experimentation and substitution, dealing with failure and uncertainty in a creative way.~ Paul Theroux