Watching a chef at work fills me up with a lot of creative energy. This is precisely what happened when I met Tushar, the Head Chef at Welcome Sheraton in Saket.
‘They look so charming in their all-white uniform,’ whispered a friend.
I said, ‘I think it is because of all the colourful ingredients they are always surrounded with. Colour always brings a smile to life.’ Well, besides the ingredients, Tushar had frozen packs of different snacks from McCain and he was all poised to introduce us to ‘taste ka naya magic’ at the #McCainMeetUp.
Well, what Tushar said at one point will never fade away from my memory, because he emphasised that it is the creative interpretation of ingredients that makes cooking travel way beyond the humdrum. He said, ‘Take veggie fingers from McCain… or veggie nuggets… or potato cheese shotz… or French fries… even aloo tikka… who asks you to just fry them and serve? You can give them a new avatar and thus give a new lease to taste!’
Yes, what he said did make a lot of sense… as he also proved to us that these snacks aren’t just salted delicacies, but can also exist as simply fabulous desserts. Yes, caramalise them if you wish… roll them in honey… or let them play with powdered sugar and other garnishing agents. The creative interpretation is all ours.
So at home this weekend, I decided to mix ‘creative interpretation’ with McCain magic… and I first decided to show my middle finger to terror perpetrators and the killers of free expression anywhere in the world.
The UNGLI recipe
Well, I’m not so deeply in love with carbs and fats but yet I chose French fries from McCain to make my point about showing the middle finger to terror perpetrators. By the way, my middle finger is also for those people from digital agencies and PR agencies who insult the IQ of serious contenders in any contest by judgements that make people nod their head and whisper, ‘What’s wrong with them?’
Coming back to my recipe… I chose five fingers to represent a hand, slim fried them in my microwave oven that has slim fry feature, smeared a bit of plain mayonnaise and then dunked each finger into box of khata-metha namkeen. The fingers were then laid carefully on a layer of mint chutney and tomato ketchup was used to create a semblance of a wrist. I love raw Shimla mirch and raw green pepper… and anyway, this adds to the spice of the title and gives it a colour contrast as well.
I took this ungli dish to Specky, my wife, and she smiled and said, ‘The plate looks rather filmi. I’m happy that you aren’t having a big bowl of French fingers as this would certainly give the right taste burst without being bad for health.’ I couldn’t agree more.
Well, I was frankly so encouraged by this response that I immediately decided to create and serve another dish. So I thought for a while and decided that the right counter to terror of any sort would be something that reminds us of the environment, our trees, and our birds. So, I created…
The McCain environmental peace prize
For this recipe I opted for potato cheese shotz and veggie fingers. I first shallow fried long-cut onion layers until they were a nice crispy brown. No salt and no other masala was used.
The cheese shotz and the veggie fingers were then slim fried in the microwave… and the fingers placed to give them the look of a tree branch. On one of these branches I spread the browned onion layers to make them look like a nest… and nested here were the two cheese shotz representing bird eggs. The bird was created with tomato ketchup and Shimla mirch was cut to look like real leaves and placed strategically.
So there I was… in less than 15 minutes, two plates representing environmental friendliness were created… and McCain had a major role to play.
The recipe booklet that McCain thoughtfully provides, clearly says, ‘McCain products are par-fried and go straight from the freezer to the fryer. All you need is just 3 minutes to cook it and serve a scrumptious treat.’ The booklet also specifies that these snacks contain ‘no preservatives because the process of freezing is the best form of preservation’.
Well, I must admit here that I keep hearing of a lot of shopkeepers and even bigger stores not keeping their refrigeration ON at night… now this is something that our retailers need to be educated about. I even saw a demo of some frozen snacks at a stall in one of the larger stores in Delhi and was shocked to see the packs lying outside on the demo table for hours before the flaccid bag being shoved back into the freezer. ‘This is ridiculous,’ I said, and immediately brought this to the notice of the store manager. The packs were taken out, opened, and used without delay… I’m making this point to let my readers know that a frozen product, once thawed, must be used up completely. However, the McCain advantage is that you can open their pack, use whatever quantity you need, seal the remaining product and transfer it back to the freezer. Thus these products have a shelf life of around 18 months.
And yes, remember that a creative interpretation of a tasty treat isn’t far away if there is McCain in the freezer.
12 January 2015