Healthy experiments to do in the kitchen
Bengaluru-based Teena Augustine blends creativity and taste to curate new recipes
KOCHI: The rasam with tangy tomatoes and a mix of spices is a favourite among many. It’s a man’s best friend for a chilly winter night. But have you tried lemon rasam and that too made using masoor dal? Well, Bengaluru-based Teena Augustine has a handful of unique recipes like lemon rasam that she invented in her kitchen in the past few years. Though counsellor by profession, the Kochi-native is an ardent food lover, and also a recipe curator and food blogger. Her social media page, Ooonuready, is a testament to her love for fusion and unique delicacies.
Rich purple mashed organic sweet potatoes sautéd in ghee with a dash of milk, cardamom, desiccated coconut and sugar rolled in the shape of laddoo is one of her drool-worthy creations. The almond flakes give it a nutty taste. “I started to post recipes and photos of my culinary inventions seven years ago,” Teena says. According to her, sweet potato halwa and laddoo have natural sweetness so they can be served without the sugar too.
Teena’s experiments were influenced by her childhood spent in Kuwait. “Our neighbours included Pakistanis, Philippinos and Indian communities like Kashmiris, Maharashtrians and others. There was a myriad of cultures and cuisines there and they influenced my culinary journey,” says Teena.
Her recent hit recipe was the veldt grape chutney aka devil’s backbone chutney. Teena also has recipes on medicinal dishes and her ‘changalamparanda’ chutney is one among them. The youngster who is a PhD holder from IIT Madras started to explore the medicinal dishes more to prepare a healthy menu for her mother who is diabetic. “Two years ago, my mother was diagnosed with a blood clot in her brain. The doctor directed me to give her six-course meals a day. So I started to prepare unique fusion dishes for her,” Teena says. Her invention of devils backbone chutney was quite an accident.
“I bought devils backbone plant thinking of it was a cactus. Later I found its medicinal values and tried to create similar dishes using Brahmi which is good for the brain. ‘Bhrahmi-nellikka-panikoorkka pachadi’ is another dish. Recently I have prepared payasam using aloe vera pulp as it is more like thick ‘ada pradhaman, and healthy for digestion,” says Teena.
Custard apple pudding, green gram dosa, pineapple puttu, beetroot payasam, strawberry pickle, corn halwa etc are a few worthy mentions from her recipe list. She has also widely explored the varieties of one of Malayali’s favourite breakfasts, idli. Chiblu idli made using a bamboo basket, kanjeepuram kovil idli and beetroot idli are her way to lure her seven-year-old daughter to the breakfast table.
“For me, life is popcorn inside the pressure cooker. Cooking soothes our minds. It is like problem-solving. Instead of throwing away the messed up dish, I figure out what went wrong and how to rectify it to a tasty offering,” Teena explains.