Photos by the writer
Photos by the writer

Reading an ancient text I came across a form of tangible prayer, worship and nurturing. I paraphrase here: ‘Feeding family and community is a high form of prayer and worship. When we open our kitchen and invite people to the dastarkhaan it translates to physical nurturing. What we feed them, it directly impacts them at a cellular level, hence eating wholesome, earthy, home-cooked, organic, unprocessed foods offers unbelievable benefits and, like mom’s warmth, dad’s unquestionable devotion, a sibling’s bond, and a friend’s loyalty, it holds delicious bounties.’

Food charities, or any spaces where food is shared, cooked with love and offered to near and dear ones — and helpers and outsiders alike — bring countless blessings, positive energy, wonderful vibes and real goodness.

Open your kitchen and your heart. And once the quarantine is behind us and it’s safe to meet and mingle, have a get-together. But in the meantime, cook for the ones at home (even if you are the only one at home).

Chicken Soup is not anecdotal

Photos by the writer
Photos by the writer

Here’s a recipe for the best chicken stock (yakhni). It boosts immunity and is excellent for overall well-being. Use it as a base for soups, any kind of cooking, or enjoy as is.

Freeze spare parts each time you make chicken (neck and ribs). Once you’ve accumulated 12 to 16 pieces throw them in a large pot, fill it up with water, toss in celery, a large sliced onion, one-inch sliced ginger and salt to taste. Bring it to a quick boil, and then let it slow simmer for five to seven hours. Add water as needed.

In the absence of get-togethers, treat yourself and your family at home with this scrumptious comfort food

Once done, let it cool to room temp. Store in the fridge for 24 hours. Fat will accumulate on top, throw away the fat and strain the stock. Throw away the onions, celery and ginger.

Remove meat from bone. Portion stock and meat, store in the freezer and use as needed. This makes eight to 12 portions.

Burger: quick, easy and so satisfying

This recipe uses turmeric and ginger in its dressing. Both ingredients are gold for the body because they build immunity, and are anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.

Lightly spread mayonnaise inside a bun. Mix greens salad with dressing in a bowl, use dressing liberally.

I use turmeric dressing.

Turmeric Dressing Recipe

1/4 cup raw almond butter, unsalted
1/2 cup water
Zest from half-a-lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

(Throw ingredients in a blender and blend, save leftover dressing in airtight jar and refrigerate, use within four days)

Method

Load lots of greens on the base, set a chicken patty/beef patty (I used chicken). Here’s the recipe: a pound of ground chicken, use any Mediterranean spice mix, a slice of soaked bread (drain water) chopped onions, chopped tomato, garlic/ginger and cilantro.

Mix and pan fry.

Set the cooked patty on top of the greens, a large slice of tomato, one slice of onion, two sweet jalapeño pickles, sprinkle lightly with cheese. Put the bun on top, lightly spread (butter) on top.

Put it in a preheated oven for four to five minutes (preheat at 400).

For sweet potato fries, preheat oven, peel and cut in wedges, drizzle with olive oil, any spice mix, hand toss, bake in oven for 12 to 15 minutes, sprinkle salt to taste

Let them Eat Cake, for Fun

Ingredients

2 18 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 lemon zest

Method

Adjust rack one-third up from bottom of the oven, pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of a cake pan with wax paper, cut to fit; grease the paper, lightly flour the entire inside of the pan. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.

Melt the chopped chocolate, rest aside. In a large bowl, beat softened butter at medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla essence. Beat at a low speed until incorporated, scrape with rubber spatula (repeat this scraping often throughout the mixing process to ensure complete blending of ingredients). Increase speed to medium; beat for three minutes. At a low speed, add eggs, two at a time, and then one. When all eggs have been added, increase speed to medium once more; beat for a minute.

At the lowest speed, add about half of the sifted dry ingredients, mixing only until blended. Add milk. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed. Fold in lemon zest and, with a large spatula, cut and fold several times to incorporate all ingredients.

Measure half the batter and set aside. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining batter in the bowl; whisk in with large, sturdy whisks.

Place alternating spoonsful of dark and light batters into the prepared pan. To level batter in the pan, grasp the pan on opposite sides with both hands; twist briskly in short, back-and-forth motions.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Turn the pan back-to-front once halfway through baking time. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove to the cooling rack and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully loosen the cake from pan edges and invert onto another cooling rack. Enjoy at teatime or as dessert.

Published in Dawn, EOS, April 19th, 2020