How do I convert my kitchen to organic?

Organic 1

I’m here to share my experience with organic food and how it changed my kitchen!

My kitchen still functions the same with any recipe from any cuisine that I like to cook. The only thing that has changed is that 99% of the ingredients that I use now are sans pesticide. Sounds unbelievable doesn’t it….

There is a lot of information on the internet telling you that organic food is good for you or that there is no proven fact that organic food is more healthier compared to the conventional food. My theory is very simple, if my food is grown artificially or ripened or polished with the stuff that I cannot even pronounce, I prefer to stay away. I like my bottle of peanut butter to taste like peanuts and nothing else. For me, it doesn’t matter if I have to consume my condiments within a certain period of time. I prefer it this way as it gives me more confidence that there has been nothing artificial added to it to make it last long.

I was first introduced to the term ‘organic’ when I was interning in an Architect’s office in Auroville. I used to have my lunch everyday at the solar kitchen where most of the ingredients were grown locally and were organic. As a young individual, I never realised the importance and forgot all about it. In the year 2011, I was reintroduced  to organic produce through Farmer’s Market. This is when I took notice. The first thing that hit me was the taste. The produce were not only fresh but had a sweet, refreshing taste. I started cooking with organic produce and noticed that my cooking tasted of pure ingredients and that I didn’t have to do too much to enhance it. Thus my journey to  learn about different organic ingredients started.

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My approach has been slow but consistent. Organic food is 10-20% higher priced than conventional foods. My theory here is more simple, If I’m cutting down on my one or two bill(s) of eating out, I can buy better quality ingredients for my family.  I first made a note of all the ingredients that we consume at home and narrowed it down to the most consumed first. For example, rice is the most consumed ingredient at home and I changed it to organic first. I gradually made a progress and have converted my kitchen into an organic one over a period of 12 months. Now we eat out less and still save more on groceries than before!!

I eat organic food and I’m not a vegetarian!

It is very difficult to source organic meat. I’m told that there are organic chicken available in some parts of India. I haven’t come across any and I don’t see it available in Mumbai or Bangalore (as a retail product). I do eat fee range chicken or eggs and studies have proven that they contain more nutrition than the injected ones. I have shared more information on free range in my old blog post. I prefer the locally available seasonal fish in comparison to the frozen ones.

Does organic food taste good?

I’ve been asked this question by several people. I hope the pictures convince you that organic food is not boring as it may sound 🙂

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lettuce wraps 1

Asian style lettuce wrap with i2cook’s peanut butter. Click on the image to view recipe.

Millet & sundried banana bread

Crackly dried fruit bread with coconut oil. Click on the image to view recipe.

Do I eat out?

As a blogger, I get invited to a lot of restaurants for tasting. Organic food is a part of my daily diet and I tend to be strict about it at home. However, there are some exclusive restaurants in different parts of the country serving some locally produced and organic food like Tattva in Delhi, Carrots in Bangalore or The Pantry, Birdsong in Mumbai.

Where to buy organic food?

There are a lot of options now from where you can buy organic food. Our online store i2cook is a 100% organic store. There are also stores in different cities which stock fresh organic produce from nearby farms. Cities like Mumbai and Bangalore are holding Farmers market selling organic produce regularly. Esvasa has a good list of stores across India selling organic produce.

Read more….

Debate on organic food

Organic vs. conventional & a chart for fruits/vegetables

Why organic food might be worth all that cost….


i2cook weekend learning session – “i2write”

i2cook believes in the growing entrepreneurial spirit that motivates several of us housewives, youngsters, jobless sabbaticals and start-ups to do what we do tirelessly. In relation to the struggle we faced while setting i2cook into a retail startup, we intend to make the path less thorny for others. Having said that, we will be calling on 2 hosts every month in an “i2” series, to help us in areas where they are adroit and can help us collaborate to improve our individual skills or just ideate better. Will you join us? You do not need any qualifications, just an intent to collaborate, learn, ideate and share.

Learning new technology and protocols is imperative though not always desirable; however, since we wished to learn from those who have traveled the road, we decided to learn the tricks of success from 2 hosts (every month) who have already comprehended the best practices and will help us in aiming with confidence for our desires!

We wish to extend our learning to others who are facing similar difficulties; hence we have decided to use our office space to help others learn and network with our two hosts along with us. If we see your interest we may further extend such sessions into the future with your help and help more entrepreneurs.

i2write – The skill to write is spelling actions into words. (sounds easier than it is?)

In this new age of writing, we are holding an event for aspiring writers who would like to learn about writing a book or just write for their business or just plain write. They are witty and intelligent women who have written award winning works and they have a wit and humour to match their intelligence!

Shakti

Introducing host #1 Shakti Salgaokar, Shakti Salgaokar is born in a family of writers. So it is hardly surprising what the Mass Media graduate wanted to do but one thing: write. This novel started as a term paper at university of Sussex, where she studied creative writing. It was seven years ago before reality shows became big.  Shakti has worked as a radio presenter, gossip columnist and was a journalist with DNA, writing features, food and restaurant reviews. She is also enjoying the joys of writing her second novel while exploring a new species called ‘husbands’. While cooking up stories is her favourite activity, she also spends time baking and cooking for friends.  Imperfect Mr. Right is her debut novel.. Imperfect Mr Right earned her first award Acharya Atre Foundation’s annual award for fiction writing. She is a Marathi Mulgi, bawibahu, mommy to a dog and two cats. Follow her blog and tweets @shaaqT.

About the book, Imperfect Mr. Right

Can an ordinary perfume salesman ever be a girls match? Avinash Menon head honcho of Cee TV, certainly thinks so. He sets out to make Rahul Rajgopal the man every woman desires to marry- rich, handsome and suave and launches him in a reality show. Enter Tanya Kher a pretty and talanted media planner, who participates in the show for lark. She isn’t really looking for Mr. Right or is she? Will Rahul loose his real identity as he slips effortlessly into the role of multi-millionaire Rajsingh Jaiswal? Will he find the girl of his dreams? And will Tanya rediscover the welter of emotions that she hides behind the mask of cold, ruthless efficiency?

Rushina

Introducing host #2 Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal, Rushina is a food blogger, gastronomy writer, food stylist, author and consultant. She started her food career as one of India’s pioneering food bloggers, with her popular blog A Perfect Bite.  She then went on to explore the world of food through a delicious career in food journalism. Rushina currently heads the firm A Perfect Bite® Consulting, and runs the extremely successful APB Cook Studio, India’s first state-of-the-art home-kitchen studio, in Mumbai. Follow her blog  and tweets @RushinaMG.

About the book, A Pinch of This, A Handful of That

Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal has recently launched a line of signature’Foodles’  ‘(Food+Doodles) and is all set to launch her first book this December. The book is a celebration her coming of age in the kitchen and the many culinary influences that have molded her into the cook she is now. Beginning with a memoir of her growing years and the early influences on her palate, it goes on to explore recipes she encountered from the various people she’s met in a food diary with lots of fabulous recipes and the stories behind them. It includes popular, lesser known dishes and her own creations that cross barriers of community and region to become part of the colourful whole that is Rushina’s kitchen.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: food aficionados, start-ups, entrepreneurs, writers, bloggers and journalists.

DATE: 28th September

TIME: 4pm onwards

WHERE: no.105, Building no. 5, Jogani Industrial Estate, Chunnabhatti, Sion east, Mumbai – 22. Call for directions 022- 24055308

ENTRY FEE: Free

RSVP: We appreciate if you could email us at i2cookn@gmail.com . Tea time snacks will be provided by us.

See you soon!


i2cook weekend learning sessions – i2instagram

i2cook was set from the ground up and we understand that learning new technology and protocols is imperative though not always desirable. However, since we wished to learn from those who have travelled the road, we decided to learn the tricks of success from 2 hosts who have already comprehended the best practices and will help us in aiming for our desires!

We wish to extend our learning to others who are facing similar difficulties; hence we have decided to use our office space to help others learn and network with our two hosts along with us. If we see your interest we may further extend such sessions into the future with your help and help more entrepreneurs.

In this new age of instagram, we thought why not hold an event for aspiring instagramers like us who would like to learn some fun tricks and trades of instagramming from successful predecessors. They have 1000+ followers on instagram and never fail to amuse you with their food pictures. Some times you just want to kill them for sharing all that yummy stuff.

Introducing host #1 Insia Lacewalla, famously known as @inses on instagram and @1NS1A on twitter. She runs her own gig Small Fry Co.  Insia is the angel who promotes/organizes food in all the rock shows and events. She brings delicious food to the less drunk people 😉

Introducing host #2 Anuja Deora, famously known as @misseatingout on instagram and @anujadeora on twitter. Anuja is currently a Managing Partner at Frozen Yogurt Inc (FYI), Juhu. Misseatingout left her corporate banking job in search of better pastures and found her calling in her love of food. She is veg and knows exactly the right places to eat in Bombay.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: entrepreneurs, home food creators, caterers, food industry aspirants and the food curious.

DATE: 10th August

TIME: 4pm onwards

WHERE: no.105, Building no. 5, Jogani Industrial Estate, Chunnabhatti, Sion east, Mumbai – 22. Call for directions 022- 24055308

ENTRY FEE: Free

RSVP: We appreciate if you could email us at i2cookn@gmail.com . Maximum people 15. Tea time snacks will be provided by us.

See you soon!


My cooking class

I used to be  fascinated by chefs or cooks showcasing their culinary skills on television, as a kid. I would sometimes play alone narrating what I had seen. I would talk to myself and recall the ingredients used!

I grew up and things changed. Buried under college assignments and work, I slowly forgot how much I love cooking. Things eventually changed for good and I’m so glad that it directed me back to my passion – cooking!

My first cooking class was an experience to cook together. I’ve always enjoyed cooking alone and even remember asking my mom to leave the kitchen while I cook in her kitchen. She would wait patiently for me to churn out something yummy. Habitually, she leaves me alone to cook all by myself till date, waiting anxiously with a glass of her favourite port wine.

Cooking together is a fun activity and I believe that we all learn something at the end – whether from an instructor or from the guests. Conversations become the key ingredient to any class. We end up talking about food and food only. How I love it! Talking about simple ingredient like rock salt and iodized salt can make the conversations informative and also gives a sense of discovery.

i2cook cooking class aims to bring people and conversations together while inspiring you to cook. It aims at making enhancers or condiments and enjoy the true flavours of ingredients. The first  i2cook class took place in July, we made three dips to showcase that dips can be made attractive to kick-start your party. I’m sharing all the recipes of the class for those who have missed and for those who would like to make.

Mexican Seven Layered Dip

Mexican Seven Layered Dip

(Serves 2, the measurements are approx. You can add more of anything if you like to indulge in  guilt-free happiness)

100gms red beans/rajma, boiled & mashed

1tbs chopped canned jalapenos

1/2tsp cumin powder

2-4tbs grated sharp cheddar cheese

100-150gms sour cream (homemade or store bought)

100-150gms guacamole

2-4tbs grated Monterrey Jack cheese

1/2tbs black olives, pitted

60 – 75gms Pico De Gallo

Recipe for Pico De Gallo – ½ red onion finely diced, ½ red tomato finely diced, 1tbs chopped cilantro, 1tsp fresh lime juice, 1/2tbs chopped canned or fresh jalapenos, salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the ingredients and it is ready to serve.

Recipe for Guacamole – half ripe avocado, ½ red onion finely diced, ½ red tomato finely diced, 1tbs chopped cilantro, 1tsp fresh lime juice, 1/2tbs chopped canned or fresh jalapenos, salt and pepper to taste.

Mash the avocado coarsely. Mix all the ingredients and it is ready to serve.

Recipe for Sour cream – 100gms cream, 25gms buttermilk or sour cream.

Mix all the ingredients in a jar. Allow it to stand at room temperature for 24 hours, covered. Refrigerate for further thickening. Sour cream can be refrigerated upto a week.

Homemade Sour Cream

Layering

  1. Mix the beans, cumin powder, jalapenos and salt in a bowl. Lay it at the bottom of the serving dish.
  2. Sprinkle cheddar cheese.
  3. Spread sour cream evenly in a single layer and take care not to disturb the cheese underneath.
  4. Spread the layer of guacamole over the sour cream.
  5. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese.
  6. Place a layer of pico de gallo.
  7. Lastly, sprinkle some black olives and jalapenos.

Serve cold or at room temperature with nachos.

Sour Cream Dip

Corn & Bacon Dip or Corn & Sour Cream Dip

(Serves 2, the measurements are approx. You can add more of anything if you like to indulge in  guilt-free happiness)

100gms sour cream

1-2tbs grated sharp cheddar cheese

1-2tbs grated Monterey Jack cheese

1tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

For garnish cooked sweet corn kernels, chopped green chillies and/or crispy bacon bits

Mix all the ingredients apart from garnish and keep it refrigerated for an hour. Fill the tarts with dip and garnish.

You could also serve with crackers or veggies.

Date & Tamarind Chutney

Date & Tamarind Chutney (Indian dip

(Serves 2, You will get approx.300gms of finished chutney)

100gms dates, seedless and washed

1/2tsp ginger powder

50gms jaggery

60gms tamarind paste

1/2tsp chilli powder

1/2tsp cumin powder

250ml water

  1. Puree the dates in a grinder. Do not fine grind it. It is nice to taste bits of dates in your chutney.
  2. Mix date puree, tamarind, jaggery, water and chilli powder in a pan and cook on medium heat.
  3. Allow it to cook for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add cumin powder and turn off the stove.
  5. Allow the chutney to cool. Keep refrigerated for a month or two.

Serve hot, cold or at room temperature with samosas, chats and many more Indian delicacies.

The event was carried out with the help of Groovy Two Shoes and we enjoyed ourselves pulling it off. The hard work did pay off.  Have a look at the Groovy two shoes’s FB page and the blog.

The classes will be  held regularly in Bandra, Mumbai. Follow i2cook’s FB page for latest updates.

All set before the class

Cooking together!

Choose what you like….

Networking after the class over chai

Giveaway!

A true foodie…


Food at Coral – dinner with strangers

 Roasted herbed potatoes & chickpea salad

Coral is based on the concept of a Salon ( “sal-lawn”). A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation.

Coral is set in a bungalow sponsored by Prahlad Kakkar creating an ambiance; by cutting off from traffic and noise of busy Mumbai with flowing conversations over good food and drink. Coral dinners are facilitated by my husband, Pawan and me. I love to cook and Pawan came up with the idea of bringing in food and conversations together and thus Coral was born.

Muhallebi  rice flour based dessert

It’s been a year since we started Coral and I’ve enjoyed setting up various menus. The idea is to focus on different cuisine, serving a 4 course meal. We want to provide a home cooked meal, native to a region that we may have never visited but possesses a culture that is brought out through its cuisine. It can be a dish from Pandi curry  from Coorg or Muhallebi  from Turkey.

Pandi curry with kadambuttu (rice balls)

Coming up with the menu can be a tough task and especially when I have not tasted the cuisine recently. I try to include dishes that you don’t get easily in Mumbai and some that are inspired. Sometimes non availability of ingredients, requires  substitution to bring it as close to it’s authentic taste. Recently we had Indonesian as the theme and it was challenging. I’ve never tasted an authentic Indonesian meal and the closest would have been a nasi goreng. Indonesian is  close to Malay food. Flavours are very simple – lemon grass, galangal/ginger, coconut, plam or coconut sugar. Blogs have always been my major source of information and inspirations. I’ve always been asked about the menu and how did I manage to get the recipes – the credit goes mostly to blogs. Getting the right information and creating a satisfying palate to go with our guests is a task that I’m trying to perfect.

Chilled avocado milkshake shots (made with palm sugar & coconut cream), Indonesian Corn Fritters (Perkedel Jagung), Indonesian fried chicken with crunchy flakes served with sambal terasi (red chili paste) &Yellow rice combo  – Coconut milk & lemon grass flavoured rice served with chicken rendang & shredded fried egg

Rujak Serut – chilled mixed fruit salad (jackfruit, mango & Malay apple) served with Indonesian dressing – palm sugar, tamarind paste, lime and coconut

Here is the FB page in case  you’re interested in knowing about Coral dinners. Post by various guests who experienced Coral – Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, Eats, Feeds & Digs & Mizohican.