Epiphany

I will always remember the moment I realized food was my first love and making it was a privilege.

My friend and I were watching a movie, sipping badam milk and eating hot pakodas his mum made to enhance our movie-viewing experience on a rainy day. I gorged on the onion pakodas, stuffing them all in my face like a glutton. And then, on screen, there is this chef who tells a rat “Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great”. I gulped what was in my mouth, wiped my oil stained lips and took a sip of the badam milk and savored it.

It was Remy the rat from Disney’s Ratatouille who first made me realize why I smiled every time I tossed vegetables in a wok or folded stiff peak egg whites into a chocolate and egg yolk mixture. I was in high school and I loved to cook because it was one of the very few things I was good at. But after watching Remy greet his diners at his restaurant atop Linguini and Collette’s bistro, I knew I enjoyed it for other reasons- the right reasons!

I spent that night researching Ratatouille, culinary schools, french cuisines, famous chefs and Thomas Keller’s Confit Byaldi. (the dish that Remy makes for Anton Ego) I swear, it was an epiphany. I was transported to a happy place and there were fireworks around me. Just like the ones Remy saw when he tasted strawberries and cheese.

 

ratatouille-51.jpg
Just like this! 

This was the moment, at 2 am in the morning, I realized food is important to me.

This was the moment, at 2 am in the morning, I realized food is important to me.

Ten years forward, I am not a chef, but my love for food and cooking has multiplied a thousand folds! But I understand this passion and obsession with experimenting food, with relishing flavors and with this yearning to learn more. And though I jump on a stool and shriek like an old woman every time I see a rat, Remy will always be dear to me!

I will forever be indebted to that friend (we lost touch, such a shame) for forcing me to watch this movie.

Ratatouille will always be one of my favorite things to make, and probably the healthiest. And I owe it all to Remy and Thomas Keller for transforming a peasant dish to a Michelin hit and a star in an animated film and making me realize why I love food.

Here is my ratatouille, sitting perfectly, defying gravity, just like Remy’s! Minus the chive.

Ratatouille

When there’s too much, grill some bread and make a sandwich!

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Here is how I make my ratatouille

  • 1 Yellow Zucchini
  • 1 Green Zucchini
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 1 Yellow/white onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • Oregano and thyme
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Butter

Char grill the red pepper and place it in a container, covered, till it cooks in the steam and the skin peels off.

Meanwhile, blanch the tomatoes in hot boiling water till the skin peels off. Do not overcook.

Use a mandolin slicer or a sharp knife to cut zucchinis, tomatoes and eggplant shingles. (like in the picture) Reserve the imperfect shingles for the sauce.

Melt butter in a saucepan, add chopped onions and garlic and saute till the onions are translucent. Add all the vegetables, herbs and some salt to help it sweat. Add cream when the vegetables are about half cooked and cook for 5 minutes. Season and let it cool.

Blend the vegetable and cream mixture along with the roasted pepper and bring it back on the heat. Check for seasoning and cook for another five minutes. Pass through a sieve for a smoother sauce.

Spread a layer of sauce in a casserole dish and start arranging the vegetable shingles. A little time consuming but perfection is everything here.

Place a few dots of butter randomly, season with salt and some thyme. Cover it with parchment paper cut out in the shape of the dish and bake for about 30 minutes (longer if making a larger quantity) at 180C.

Add some extra sauce while plating because it really is the best part!

 

 

 

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