Discovering hidden chefs


When life gives you a ‘lockdown pantry’, look for creative twists to dish up something delish


Twenty-six-year-old Siddhartha Ghimire, food vlogger better known as Nepal. food, never really liked the idea of cooking. However, with lockdown forcing all restaurants to remain shut, Ghimire, a big time foodie, is left with little choice but get into the kitchen. “The first time I tried cooking, the result wasn’t very pleasant,” says Ghimire. But his love for food made him keep striving till he finally came up with dishes that made him happy.

This awakened his newfound passion for cooking.

He started off with dishes like samosa and doughnuts and is now moving towards more complex dishes like crunchy egg rolls and pizzas, and he has realised that as long as food tastes good, it doesn’t matter if you are eating out or it’s a meal you cooked.

It’s not just Ghimire who is experimenting with cooking as he reports witnessing a lot of individuals coming up with innovative dishes. “People are experimenting …

Even with something as simple as instant noodles, people are bringing something completely new to the table.

I saw someone making ballshaped crunchy Wai-Wai noodles,” says Ghimire.

Then there are those who are making the best of the few ingredients in their pantry.

Twenty-year-old Rewa Sharma has always enjoyed cooking. “The idea of mixing different tastes and flavours to create something new always fascinated me,” the Jorpati resident says.

However, due to the lockdown Sharma has noticed a dearth of ingredients, but she sees this as a challenge, even an opportunity for a little kitchen creativity.

“When you don’t have enough resources, you need to work with the limited items you have. It lets your creativity flow as you start seeking interesting alternatives,” she opines.

Since there were no breadcrumbs or cornflour in her kitchen, Sharma opted to make the dish out of beaten rice instead. In another instance, instead of using flour for the classic Lal Mohan, she used semolina.

Supriya Shakya has been trying to make do with whatever ingredients she has at her disposal. “When I didn’t have coriander, I used green onions. When I didn’t have breadcrumbs to prepare meatballs, I used beaten rice,” shares Shakya, 26, who is quick to come up with substitutes for ingredients she lacks. Preparing and sharing pictures of dishes from classic Japanese Katsudon to nostalgic Indian Kalakand on her social media, Shakya shares her inbox is now getting flooded with friends and family requesting her to make them these dishes after lockdown.

Rashika Bohora, a new cooking lover, insists one doesn’t require a lot of ingredients to come up with tasty dishes. “With the right combination of basic ingredients like eggs, flour, onion and tomatoes, one can make any dish absolutely mouthwatering,” opines the 21-yearold.

Bohora, who hails from Budhanilkantha, shares that just by using the above mentioned ingredients, she was able to make delightful treats like spaghetti and chips chilli, among others.

“It’s all about knowing how to play with ingredients,” shares Bohora.

She has also realised the economic benefits that come with home-cooked meal. “In less than a thousand rupees, I can purchase ingredients that will last up to five-seven meals. Compare that with steep prices one has to pay in a restaurant for a single meal!”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 4, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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