Over the last few years, I’ve been moving away from following recipes and toward experimentation – cooking by ear. This is probably something that happens eventually to everyone who enjoys cooking, but it’s an exciting experience for me.
When it started, I had moved to a new country but my recipe books had not yet followed me. So I looked up recipes for baking powder biscuits on the internet, but I also didn’t have my American measuring cups. So I tried to estimate the proper amounts of flour, sugar, etc., and had a few failures but mostly succeeded in what I was trying to do.
I realised that some recipes (cakes, for instance) require precise measurements, but some (vegetarian chilli) will work perfectly well if you chop up a few vegetables and pour in a can of beans and a can of chopped tomatoes. Then I tried to recreate dishes that I remembered eating in restaurants – pasta with sautéed vegetables, prawns and pine nuts. They worked out pretty well.
Now I’m trying fusion. A friend back in Kentucky taught me how to make latkes (those wonderful potato pancakes that you most often see around Hanukkah), and I took the recipe with me to England and made them any time of the year, serving them with apple sauce or Greek yoghurt or popping them on top of a green salad for dinner that felt slightly more healthy. They’re pretty easy to assemble: grated potato, grated onion, egg, crushed matzo cracker.
My husband taught me how to make onion bahjees, a popular starter in Indian restaurants and a nice snack or quick meal. Also easy to assemble: chopped onion, gram (chickpea) flour, curry powder and water.
Tonight I made fritters of grated potato, grated onion, gram flour, egg and curry powder, which were delicious. Small Boy can now say ‘More latke bahjees please.’