Tuesday, 20 May 2014

10 Inspirations to Innovate in the Kitchen

What inspires people to do some thing? What is it that strikes a chord with them to create some thing or pursue the object of their inspiration? Inspiration can come from many sources, and each of them is precious as it pushes us to think beyond the box and do something interesting.

So the other day I was thinking about what is it that inspires us to cook and innovate. And I realised that inspiration can come from many sources, and many needs too. Here are some that I thought of!

1. The 'Hungry-Stomach' Inspiration

This is the top most reason to cook! When you are hungry and you like to cook, you will enter that kitchen and whip something up.

So how does being hungry help us to innovate? Many times being hungry comes with particular cravings that you have to satisfy and when you cook for these cravings, you innovate too. Some of my favourite dishes that I make when I have cravings are aloo parathas (spiced potato stuffed flatbreads) and sheera (sweet semolina pudding).

Aloo Parathas

Aloo Parathas With Aamras for those "I-am-Hungry" Cravings!
And when you are very hungry you will reach out to make those dishes that you can make really fast and eat fast!

2. The 'I-am-too-bored-to-cook' Syndrome

Think of all those times when you have been the only one at home for a meal and have been too lazy to cook. Or when you have had too much work and the thought of entering the kitchen just doesn't sit right.
At these times I like to make some quick soups and salads that are filling and don't take too much time, thought or effort to cook.

Asian Style Salad
Asian Style Salad for the 'I-am-too -bored-to-cook' syndrome


Thukpa Soup for when you are too bored to cook something elaborate

3. The 'I-have-these-ingredients' Excitement

Every time I go to Crawford Market, it gives me this reason to cook. For at least a week after my shopping sprees, I will be cooking new and exotic dishes in my kitchen, because I will have found the right ingredients.

Here are some dishes that result from my latest shopping spree at Crawford market:

Fettucine in Pesto Sauce

Fettucine in Pesto Sauce

Pumpkin Soup with a Mirepoix Base

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry from Scratch: because I had all the ingredients!

4. The 'Some-Ingredients-Missing' Desperation

Oh, this one! The one that befalls all of us at some point in time. It makes such innovative cooks out of us! Especially when we are craving one particular dish, and we are missing one or two ingredients out of all those needed. Like once when I was craving upma (savoury semoilina pudding) and I did not have any rawa (semolina) at home... here's what I did!

Oats Upma

Oats Upma made when I had Rawa missing from my pantry!

5. The 'Empty-Storage' Conundrum

This is such a cliche when it comes to bachelor pads or singles places. You can still crave home cooked food when you are too lazy to shop. What do I do in such cases? I make tadkewaale dahi chawal (tempered yoghurt rice)! A quick no-fuss fix!

Tadke Waale Dahi Chaawal

And those days when I do not have any vegetables at home, I make this interesting sabzi-

Papad Ki  Dahiwaali Sabzi

6. The 'Special-Occasions' Creativity

Special occassions call for special dishes. And if you  love cooking, they also call for you to try and create new recipes to mark the occassion. I have some great memories of some really special dishes I have created for such special occassions

Hummus (chickpea dip) Platter for my brother's birthday with regular hummus, basil hummus and masala hummus (Indian style!)

Hummus Platter 
Cheesy Sweet Corn Canapes that I made to celebrate my 100th blog post

Cheesy Sweet Corn Canapes

7. The 'I-don't-want-to-eat-the-same-old-stuff' Alternative Search

Variety, as they rightly say, is the spice of life. And you indeed cannot eat the same dishes again and again. Everyone needs a change from their traditional food, once in a while. And these are dishes I cook to liven things up in the kitchen every once in a while!

Pan Seared Aubergines with a Yogurt Dip

Restaurant Ready Pan Seared Aubergines with a Yogurt Dip

Spaghetti in Red Sauce

Spaghetti in Red Sauce with Olives

8. The 'Kid-Might-Eat' Hypothesis

Every mother will agree that your concept of cooking changes completely when you have a kid! The dishes and food you have cooked over the years get questioned. And food and cooking becomes an exploration from scratch based on one hypothesis, "My kid might eat this". Here are some dishes that kids might eat-

Hakka Noodles

Hakka Noodles for the Kids

Healthy Vegetable Cutlets that hide all the veggies in it!

Healthy Vegetable Cutlets

9. The Recipe Re-creation Mode

Recipes, to me, are signposts or guidelines to be followed while making variations in them as per my taste preferences or those of my family. Some recipes that I have gotten innovative with are-

Dhaniya Kadhi (fresh corriander based yogurt sauce) that I saw on a food-travel show on T.V.

Dhaniya Kadhi
Pink Guava Curry that I found in the Good Food India magazine

An adapted version of pink guava curry

10. The 'Weather Calls for It' Cooking

Seasons change. Seasonal vegetables change. And the weather also calls for certain dishes. Need I really say more?

Cold and refreshing Waldorf Salad served chilled for summers

Waldorf Salad

Pakoras (fritters) with a twist for the rains

Onion Spinach Fritters with 

Hearty roasted red pepper and tomato soup for winters

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup