History of cooking and baking
Cooking is an art that needs dedication and more than anything interest .Over the centuries human beings have perfected the art with so many inventions , that now food is one of the biggest industries ever. Right in the beginning of recorded history there was the discovery of fire making, which probably led to the discovery of making food tastier and easier to consume by using heat .
People then discovered that with the help of heat and grain, one was now able to prepare a kind of broth and hot stones were covered with this broth or the broth was roasted on embers and that was how flat bread was created. This ability to prepare stable food radically changed the eating habits and lifestyle of our early ancestors, from being hunters they became settlers.
We see that already in the years 2600-2100 B.C. bread was being baked by the Egyptians. In fact, it was the Babylonians who were the pioneers of baking . The royal bakery of Ramses and also Greek royalty had their cooks making bread and cakes, some shaped in the form of animals and used for sacrifices in Egypt as well as in Greece.
Greek scholar Aristophanes’s ( 450-385 B.C) early writings show the existence of honey flans and patterned tortes. According to Aristophanes, the ancient Greeks also made a certain type of doughnut made from flour and honey called “Dispyrus” a ring-cake that was submerged in wine and consumed hot. So, this is how baking began and over the years became a very integral part of world cuisine...
I am presenting here a few baked recipes which are my personal and family favorites that are besides being tasty are also healthy and very nutritious.
Medium sized brinjals 5-6 ( washed thoroughly and cut into halves without removing the stock)
Tomatoes – 3 cut into slices
Onions 2 - cut into small pieces
Garlic - 5-6 seeds finely chopped
Coriander leaves one cup finely chopped
Chilly powder 1 teaspoonful
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive oil as required
Grated cheese ( optional)
In an oven proof flat dish pour some olive oil and add the finely chopped garlic, salt , chilly powder and some of the coriander leaves mix thoroughly with a spoon . Arrange the halved brinjals in the dish after coating them well with the oil and spices. Bake for 8-9 minutes on medium heat until the brinjals are tender.
Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onions and fry for a while after which add the tomatoes and fry well, add salt and pepper and rest of the coriander leaves and take it off the stove. Spread the tomato mixture on the baked Brinjals .
Alternatively you can sprinkle grated cheese on top at this juncture and put in the oven for a minute after which the dish is ready to be served with either steamed rice, Chapathis or on Toast.
Baked chicken with spinach and mushrooms
Boneless Chicken half kilo
Onions – 2 finely chopped
Mushrooms – 1 pack washed and cut into pieces
Spinach – one bunch cleaned, washed and chopped
Ginger and garlic as required finely chopped
One cup stock made from stock cubes
Butter and Olive oil
For the marinade
Yogurt half cup
Salt and pepper
Red curry paste (available in most super markets)
Handful of coriander leaves
Mix the yogurt with salt, pepper, curry paste and the coriander leaves and add the chicken pieces to it and let it stay for 10-15 minutes.
Heat the olive oil and add the chopped onions, garlic and ginger. Fry for a while and stir fry the mushrooms and the spinach, adding salt and pepper. Transfer half the contents to an over proof dish which has been smeared with butter on the inside.
Into the same pan add some more oil and add the chicken marinade and fry until the chicken pieces are beginning to brown on the outside. Cover and cook for 5- 10 minutes on low heat. Once done, spread the chicken pieces evenly on top of the mushroom, spinach mixture. Add and spread the rest of the mushroom and spinach mixture on the chicken pieces . Pour the stock over it and sprinkle the bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes on medium heat. Take it off the oven and spread the grated cheese on top and bake for 3 -4 minutes until the cheese bubbles and begins to brown.
The dish is ready to be served with bread or rice...
( Alternatively you can add a few small potatoes to the dish. Peel the skin and prick with a fork all over and stir fry along with the mushrroms and spinach )
You can use any large fish cut into boneless fillets. You can also make this dish using prawns instead of fish.
Fish of your choice – half kilo
Spring onions one bunch cleaned and chopped to small pieces
Onion one chopped finely
Garlic – 15 -20 seeds finely chopped
Ginger 1 inch piece– sliced finely
Salt and pepper to taste
Lime juice 2 table spoons or more if you like
Coriander leaves a handful finely chopped
Olive oil or any oil of your choice
Marinate the fish with lime juice, salt and pepper and keep aside for a few minutes .
In a flat oven proof dish add the olive oil and spread it evenly. Add the chopped garlic , ginger, onions, spring onions , coriander leaves, salt and pepper. Mix well. Place the fish pieces in the dish making sure that the fish gets coated with the oil and herbs. Bake on medium heat for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and pour out all the juice that gets accumulated on top of the fish...
This is a great dish that goes well with anything ( rice or bread ) or can be eaten by itself.
Potatoes – 3 cleaned, skin peeled and cut into largish pieces
Carrots – 3-4 cleaned and cut into large pieces
French beans a handful- remove strings and chop
Peas – one cup
Cauliflower – cut into medium sized pieces – one cup
Mushrooms, one cup full – cut into halves
Capsicums one cup – finely chopped
Onions – chopped
Green chilies 2 chopped finely
Salt and pepper to taste
One cup stock made with stock cubes
Heat oil and fry the onions and green chilies. Add the potatoes and carrots and then the French beans. Mix well. Add the peas , capsicums , cauliflowers and the mushrooms , salt and pepper and take off the stove. Spread the vegetable mixture evenly in an oven proof dish. Pour the stock over it and bake for 20 minutes in medium heat. Take out and stir thoroughly and spread the cheese on top and bake for another 3 -4 minutes until the cheese turns brown and the dish is ready to serve with either toast or steamed rice. (Alternatively to make it even more nutritious you can beat two eggs and pour on top after it is taken out. Spread cheese on top and bake until the egg sets and the cheese melts and begins to brown.)
Baked Bread And Butter Pudding
A baked dessert is not only healthy but can also be very tasty. I am giving a recipe here for a Bread and Butter pudding which is a traditional English dessert but can be done with slight variations for added taste.
Bread slices 7 cut into triangles
Eggs 4 beaten well
Sugar half cup
Butter as required
Walnuts broken into small pieces – 1 cup
Raisins a few
Orange marmalade as required
Apply butter generously on the bread slices on one side . On the other side apply Marmalade.
Arrange them on a oven proof dish. Beat the eggs until frothy and add the sugar and the milk mix well until creamy. Add the nutmeg powder and mix well. Pour the egg mixture over the bread slices and sprinkle with walnuts and raisins. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes on medium heat and serve either warm or cold. The pudding tastes good either way.
(Traditionally Bread and butter pudding is served with a custard, that is made by mixing custard powder that we can buy from the shop with boiling sweetened milk.)
( images from wikimedia)
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