This morning Natasha woke up to muffins baking and we were treated to a litany of ‘muffins, muffins, muffins ...” as she settled in front of the oven as if chanting and staring hypnotically at the oven would make them bake faster!
Stop, please wipe out any ‘Domestic goddess..’ thoughts your are having, I did not wake up at the break of dawn to mix up a batch of apple muffins in time for the kids breakfast.
I am umm.. ‘bread challenged’ shall we say.
My last post bragged about the phenomenal variety of Indian breads we are lucky to savour in India. With such an ancient tradition of eating freshly made rotis daily, one of the qualities that defines an Indian home cook is her ability to make rotis. Even the most untrained girls will be proficient in this skill. I, however, somehow never acquired it! Not only am I a dismal baker, I am an unmitigated disaster at making rotis. A decided handicap when you marry a man from North India raised on a robust diets of rotis and parathas! My darling husband never saw this as a problem, but I felt it was a failing. I imagined people saw through the fabulous naans and breads I would order in and serve up at dinner parties and KNOW that I could not make rotis. And when I gingerly admitted I could not make rotis, I could SWEAR women got this look in their eyes – you know the “you cant make rotis!” look.
And it is not for the lack of trying. Every attempt to bake bread has ended up either undercooked or break your teeth hard (or toes depending on what comes in contact first). I have even dedicatedly spent a week making rotis at every meal to address this lack. So much so that the two adorable men in my life have actually sat me down and gently but firmly told me "we will eat bread, don't make rotis." With all the stuff I cook well now, I get away with calling myself bread challenged and laugh it off, but somewhere in me I still felt the pinch of not being able to make rotis or any sort of bread.That I lacked as a food provider in the most basic way.
Then my husband got bitten by the baking bug. He began with cakes and cookies but I put my foot down at those after a while because we really did not need to eat that much sugar or processed flour. So he started to do did all sorts of breads, first with flour but soon with multigrain flours. And then recently I brought home some Ciabata that he really liked and so he has been experimenting with sourdough ever since. Most days he wakes up earlier than all of us to bake bread or muffins, having come home and prepped everything the night before.
Living in Mumbai means busy lives, work pressures often mean letting things get de prioritised, like time for oneself, with one’s kids, cooking. Eating out is often an easy solution to all of these issues, no time to exercise?... worry about it another day, no time to cook? .. eat out, guilt tripping that we don’t spend enough time with our kids, take them to eat out (mostly junk because that’s what kids like). But I have found that cooking at home, can also be a solution. By cooking at home, we cut out a host of unhealthy processed rubbish from our diets and one of the easiest ways to spend time with kids is to get them involved in cooking or baking projects. Granted it is messy and can get annoying but they learn more about food than telling them will teach them (and make for great photo ops!) Try stirring up a batch of oat muffins and let them decide what flavours they fancy or do whole grain pizza from scratch and let them pick toppings. Although you don’t have to wait for special occaisions, just let ‘help’ with daily kitchen chores, such as making rotis or play with roti dough. In fact Natasha loves rolling rotis and often her Papa will come home to little rotis made by her. Kids are easy to please really, and cooking or baking at home is really not that tough, it just takes a little readjustment.
Our daily bread needs are met in an unusual manner and S is the bread earner in more ways than one, but as a mother I am thankful that my kids eat healthy whole grain breads most days we only get commercial sliced bread where we live, and the ‘brown’ bread only differs from the white version in that it is colored with molasses and 2 rupees more expensive! I am luckyto have found and married a man who completes me in every way including baking fabulous breads that we can eat with the flavoured butters, jams and preserve I love to make.
|Early breads baked by Shekhar|