While the pandemic-induced isolation caused a major setback for a lot of professionals, some people used the testing time to bring out their creative best. Bengaluru-based Chef Abraham Jacob, for instance, used the lockdown to work on a book on lockdown recipes. Titled Fully Fed Up, the book is a result of Jacob's travels and experiences.
We caught up with the chef to know more about his new work.
Tell us about Fully Fed Up.
The lockdown due to the pandemic led me to write a recipe book, which is a collection of recipes I made before and during the period of lockdown. The idea behind each of these is simplicity in terms of ingredients and dishes that are easy to cook at home.
The lockdown recipes were an attempt to responsibly repurpose the food in our pantry and fridge, in order to make sure that my family stayed healthy during this time. It was both about wholesome one-pot meals that did not require much effort and extravagant dishes that would be a labour of time and love.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
I have always wanted to document my travels and what I have learnt from them, but never found the time to do so. When the lockdown was announced, I finally had the time I needed to write about food from home and around the world, documenting the iconic recipes that could be cooked at home with simple ingredients. Ironically, it took not being allowed to go anywhere to revisit some of the most memorable trips that I have been on.
Read: Decoding Culinary Secrets with Chef Kunal KapurThe philosophy behind these recipes stems from the fact that at a time like this, it is more important than ever to be conscious of our choices; sourcing local ingredients to ensure a more sustainable way of life and trying to minimise the waste that we produce. The lockdown has affected all of us in many ways, giving us time to contemplate our life choices, considering slowing down, spending valuable, much-needed time with our families and perhaps giving ourselves and the planet a chance to breathe.
How many recipes have been inspired from your travels?
Most of them are inspired from my travels to almost every part of the world and some from my family's favourites, those that are traditionally made and handed down generations. The idea was to use them and simplify the process through my research and understanding of modern kitchens to make it easy to cook at home given the constraints of space and time. Many of the recipes are those from my visits to thattukadas (road side pop ups selling food at night in Kerala), highway dhabas across the country, hole in the wall outlets, street food, osterias and family-run cafes and signature chef-driven restaurants from India and overseas.
Indian food cooked locally in our homes in all its simplicity has so much to offer and we have only showcased just a small fraction of the huge canvas. There is a tremendous opportunity to take our food not only across our country and the world, but as I wish to every home. Therein lies our biggest opportunity to make Indian cuisine extensive and popular.
What themes that you have divided the book into?
Since this was around the lockdown period and we were all confined to our homes, the idea was to have ingredients showcased as graphic renditions of traditional home games and board games to bring an element of fun to defeat boredom.I chose to document my recipes under 5 sections to make it simple for my readers who are at home, I sectioned the 180-odd recipes under the heads (a) Dips, chutneys, salads and marinades (b) breakfast and breads (c) small plates, starters and snacks (d) large plates, curries and stir fries (e) aperitifs and desserts.
Which are your favourite recipes from the 189 featured in your book?
It's hard to pick one from the list, all of them have found a place in the book by their sheer brilliance of taste. Some of the biriyanis stand out and so do the small plates like the Andhra chilli chicken and the hara masala bheja fry, that are so simple to make at home. The section of dips from around the world are very interesting and the selection of marinades for grilling and BBQ are wonderful too.
Through this book, my attempt was to make cooking simple, having dishes range from the simple to the rich, the exotic to the earthy and to demystify cultures and cuisines of the world to rekindle the romance of cooking in our own kitchens.