Each one of us has some food memories of summers — school holidays, spending afternoon playing or chatting with either cousins or friends, endless ice-cream parties and hogging on delicacies cooked by our grand moms. Chef Gautam Mehrishi’s upcoming show Hello Summer on Living Foodz is an ultimate throwback to our childhood summer holidays. The show starting today (April 16), will air every Monday and Tuesday.
Mehrishi will recreate some closely-guarded family recipes, which he has relished during his summer holidays. The 13-episode series will explore various themes such as birthdays, kitty parties, family picnics, pool parties, travel and summer weddings etc in each episode. Throwing light on the concept, he says, “We have combined three elements to bring the show together. One thing is the summer vacations and our attachment with it. Some spend their vacations at their grandparents’ house, some travel. Along with all the playing and fun, there’s a lot of food involved in our plans. We all have these fond memories.”
He says that the recipes he is going to create are seasonal. “We are using ingredients that grow during summers. In every episode, we have a new ingredient, from onion, coconut, jackfruit to mangoes,” he says.
Down memory lane
“My father was in the army so we used to travel across the country every two-three years. I would inevitably used spend some holidays at my dadi’s or nani’s house. My dadi had a saatvik kitchen, washed thrice a day. The food used to be offered to god first. My nani was a Sikh and her kitchen was totally Punjabi with a tandoor, grill, chulha, poultry and dairy farm. Most vegetables came from our home-grown garden. She also had all sorts of trees around,” Gautam reminisces.
The first time he learnt to butcher a chicken was at his nani’s house. “At an early age, I knew how to pick the right egg, importance of organic vegetables and fruits. Today after becoming a chef, I realise that I had learnt the basics then,” he says, adding that Sunday at his nani’s house was always a big affair. “My nani would cook Rajma Chawal for around 25-30 guests and that was a big hit.”
His favourite summer recipes
Mehrishi says that most of the recipes he is cooking on the show are his personal favourites. “There will be kulfi made with imli, desserts like mango shakes, phirni made with onion called Anokhi Phirni, which is quite unique. As a kid, I was very fond of torai (okra) with coconut and my grandmother used to make torai bharta,” which he says will be on the show along with Mango and Chia pudding, Sugarcane Smoked Tofu, Banana Bread French Toast, Green Chai Latte, Jackfruit Mousse, Daab Malai Khichdi and others.
Tweaking summer dishes
Most summer dishes are being passed on for generations. Many follow the recipes as taught by their grandmothers or mothers. But what are some of the dos and don’ts one must remember while experimenting with traditional summer dishes? “I think the most important thing is to use vegetables or ingredients which are seasonal. Apart from that, one needs to be careful about not playing with the traditions. Also, there are some ingredients which we rarely use — like Tinda (Indian squash), pumkin, torai, jackfruits. We should start using them as substitutes. You can make a jackfruit achar or biryani. In this show, I am making Jackfruit Risotto which is as good as biryani or pulav or another one is Muskmelon Lassi. You can add kokam sherbat to a fish curry which has cooling effects. Most of the ingredients used during our childhood are now being taken over by other ingredients,” he says.
He adds that the biggest thing one needs to remember while cooking during summers is that “a good combination of spices and correct way of cooking” makes dishes healthy, instead of simply consuming cold food like cold soup, fruits and salads.
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Catch Hello Summer on Monday and Tuesday at 1.30 pm on Living Foodz