Life Experiences

The Pressure Cooker Rocks again – this time for Tandoori

All I had to start was some vague memory of a recipe, maybe which my mum used long back, not sure of the results either. No other medium to look up for a vegetarian cake recipe; Internet was a new thing, social channels didn’t exist, English reads not available, English-speaking community hardly any that I knew.

My first memory of working in the kitchen is old. I must have been ten or eleven years old to have made tea first time, and or maybe used the gas stove to warm food. It only grew since then. Today, kitchen work, cooking is one of my primary work on an everyday basis to look after my family, in which each one of us is fond of food.

Besides everyday cooking, it was baking that I started with to try something new. It was out of craving for sweetmeat in French land, which got me to try hands on baking a vegetarian cake. That too in a pressure cooker. All I had to start was some vague memory of a recipe, maybe which my mum used long back, not sure of the results either. No other medium to look up for a vegetarian cake recipe; Internet was a new thing, social channels didn’t exist, English reads not available, English-speaking community hardly any that I knew; all I had was my instinct and will to impress my newly-wed husband. The result was not great, somewhat burned from the bottom, maybe I didn’t manage the heat of the gas stove well.

In the last 21 years, the pressure cooker has been my most faithful kitchen equipment. From dals to rice and curries, soups I found the latest use of the pressure cooker to make tandoori parathas. This was bliss. This too happened to introduce some other kind of roti into my everyday cooking, especially with paneer, mushroom, stuffed potato kind of curries.

I tried using the electric oven a couple of times. But the effort involved was enormous, and results not great. Even with the right temperature and oven setting, the tandoori part was missing. The result wasn’t satiating either.

Striking of the Idea and Getting Going

In this Internet and social media age, in which the smartphone is handy at all times, flipping through social channels for pastime is common. I do it too. I happened to stumble upon on one of the social channels to use the pressure cooker for tandoori. That got into my head to try it one day.

The first attempt to use the pressure cooker for tandoori was nearly perfect. The process involved working close to the hot body of the pressure cooker, of course without the lid. Pre-heating the body of the pressure cooker keeping it upside down on the stove was the first step. In no time, it became hot to be handled using mittens. The next step involved placing rolled parathas on the walls of the hot cooker. Even more difficult.

Before this, how the flour dough is prepared is important too. This requires slight fermentation either using curds or some leavening before it is ready to use. The dough requires nice kneading few times before it is ready to be used. And, the choice of filling for the paratha or curry on the side for tandoori roti to be kept ready. Paneer, potato, cauliflower are the ones I tried for filling, all of which tasted amazing. Hot parathas straight from the home-tandoor, brown to red in color, with the right crispiness and smeared with butter can only be heavenly. All it needs is fresh curds, pickle, and slices of onion on the side. And, if it is tandoori roti, the process repeats, what is needed is a choice of curry to go with.

The results every time so far have been encouraging. And, my family has become a big fan of home tandoori parathas, totally worth the effort involved. They’ll be happy if it’s there every week. But I have tried to keep it a novelty. To serve it occasionally and let the taste linger in the mouth.

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