The great chef’s life in Delhi.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Meet Radhika Singh, the Julia Child of West Delhi’s Janak Puri. Ms Singh is very special. Indeed, she is the best cook in the world. So says her daughter’s friend Nayantara Shaunik. So says her daughter, Tanya. So says her son, Tanuj. So says her mother-in-law, Shakuntala. (The Delhi Walla could not verify the claims from her husband, Atul, who had gone to survey his mango orchard situated outside the city.)
Ms Singh’s cooking is so popular that both her children have to carry unusually large lunchboxes every day to their respective colleges to feed friends who live for their mother’s food.
However, the sweetly modest Ms Singh credits her cooking to her Bombay-based sister-in-law, Sharda. It is impossible to sit with her and not hear her gush about this sister-in-law every few minutes. The charmingly old-fashioned spice box in the kitchen (see picture 9 below) was a gift from this beloved friend. But Ms Singh’s best friend in the kitchen is a Phillips radio—in the morning when the whole house is asleep and she is making the day’s first chai, the kitchen pulsates with the romantic melodies of Hindi film songs.
Ms Singh is particularly cherished for her rajma, fried bhindi and the intriguingly-named rock toast. “I’ll make vegetarian corn keema today,” she says. “Sharda bhabi told me about it three years ago.”
Strictly speaking, keema is the Delhi-speak for minced meat, but our chef is a vegetarian and so is her keema. “You can make it in 15 minutes flat,” she says.
Here is the recipe of Ms Singh’s ‘Vegetarian Corn Keema’.
Vegetarian Corn Keema (for six)
2 cups of boiled corn
1 finely chopped onion
I-inch piece of ginger
5-6 cloves of garlic
2 green chillies
Chopped green coriander leaves for garnishing
Salt, to taste
2-3 pinches of turmeric powder
2 tsp Kitchen King Masala
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp of cream
2-3 tsp of refined oil or butter
Water as required
Coarsely grind the boiled corn (one can use little water here).
Make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Place the pan on the burner, add oil/butter and saute the chopped onions they they turn translucent.
Add ginger, garlic and green chilli paste.
Fry for a minute, then add the corn.
Add turmeric powder, salt, Kitchen King masala, and black pepper powder.
Keep stirring so that all spices blend in well and wait for the mixture to start turning thick (add a tbsp of water, if required).
After a minute, add cream and mix well. Turn off the flame after 30 seconds.
Garnish with green coriander leaves before serving.
Serve hot with plain parathas and lots of love.
The making of Vegetarian Corn Keema
13. (from left: Nayantara Shaunik, Shakuntala Singh, Radhika Singh, Tanya, Tanuj)