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Cooking smells in the insulated homes in the West
So it was my first visit to Omaha, Nebraska to help the kids for six months. “ We cook outside on the deck Mum, or the smells inside insulated homes in the West of our Indian cooking lingers on everything, from the furnishing to the clothes, and will not go.” For them as Doctors in another country, that was important, that they did not smell of our spicy food, especially, when they were interacting with their patients. I understood perfectly as I hated the smell of masalas on the fingers of the beauticians, when I went for a facial, or my colleagues clothes, when I worked in the newspaper office.
So, here was this Indian lady, cooking up a storm on a skillet, on the deck in freezing Nebraska. Sambhars and Xacutis, stir fried Rechado shrimps and pork vindaloo’s, all made in the freezing cold on the deck.
So how did I manage it?? I prepped everything in their conservatory or sunroom. I sliced and diced the pungent onions, cut up the tomatoes, spooned the various spices into a bowl, and a separate bowl for the piquant ginger/garlic and cilantro. And only then through the sliding glass doors, I put on the skillet. I first poured the olive oil, which is the medium we cook with and then threw in the ingredients, through the crack through which my hand went, through the door.
The smoke came out in a cloud with each addition and blew away and dissipated across the back yard. I am very sure the neighbours could smell the simmering spices and it was a great smell as many came out to check and waved. The neighbour opposite asked for some to taste!
Here in Tennessee too, the kids are in a much larger home. The weather is less extreme, so I do the prepping first, down to the salt and only then go in and out, adding ingredients in the skillet. Tennessee is much warmer and with my three layers I am fine.
So why don’t I use the food smell extractor or the chimney? These smells do not clear with just these extractors which are meant for much lighter cooking, and no spices, well not the kind we consider spices. I hate the use of candles and stuff later, as the food smells get mixed up with the scented candle smell, which is dreadful.
Walk into any Indian restaurant here or Indian home and the smell hits you face full on. Even Mexican food can be pretty smelly. And our coats need to be aired for days after a trip.
I have also learned to cook several dishes all at one go so I don’t need to go out and cook, every single day. We have Pyrex dishes with covers, which keeps the smells out of the fridge as well. Ofcourse I have to use the pressure cooker indoors and only do the final spicing outdoors. Bagar, as we call it in India.
“ Leave the food once cooked outside to cool down and then transferring into a dish indoors is not a problem,” says my son. I am fine with that, as the smells can be pretty over powering. However, banana walnut bread, a Meat loaf or even omlettes can be cooked without problems indoors, and the lingering smell of baking indoors, is delicious.
To avoid the smell on my fingers, I use surgical gloves ‘cause I like my fingers to smell of the latest Bath and Body Works lotion and not onions!
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