Food is all about making the best of what you have. Today, I had a plain green tea bag, a ripe orange and a desire to have flavoured green tea instead. A brainwave struck and I squeezed a segment of the orange into my mug of hot water before steeping the green tea bag for a minute.
The result was a lovely saffron-coloured, delicately flavoured, all-natural zesty green tea. Food innovations don’t always require a history of cooking or expert-level proficiency in using exotic ingredients. It’s just about exploring the potential of everything in your kitchen (or work desk in my case) to the fullest. Here are five scenarios where you have just three ingredients at hand and still manage to eat really well:
You Have: Milk, Pasta and Cheddar Cheese
You Make: Mac n cheese
Cook the pasta in the milk until it acquires a creamy texture. Then, add grated white cheddar cheese and stir until it blends into the pasta.
You Have: Bananas, Eggs and Coconut Flour
You Make: Gluten-free, Paleo Pancakes
If you don’t have coconut flour, you can make it from a coconut. Just remove all the flesh and grind in a blender with water. Strain the coconut milk until you have only the meal left over. Bake it in an oven until hard and dry and then grind again to get coconut flour. You can then grind the flour with ripe bananas and eggs to get the perfect batter for delicious, gluten-free pancakes. Make the pancakes like you always do to have a magical breakfast ready in minutes.
You Have: Bread, Butter and Garlic
You Make: Garlic Bread
Blend butter with chopped or crushed garlic until smooth. Halve bread slices and slather each one with the butter-garlic sauce. Bake in an oven or roast on a skillet until fragrant and lightly brown.
You Have: Maida, Pineapple Preserve and Castor Sugar
You Make: Pineapple Cake
If you don’t have pineapple preserve and you aren’t too lazy, you can grate some fresh pineapple and cook with sugar and lime juice until they turn soft. To this preserve, add sifted maida, castor sugar and a pinch of baking powder (we aren’t counting that as a major ingredient). Bake for an hour in an oven that has been pre-heated to 180°C. You could prepare a glaze for the cake or eat it as is.
You Have: Basil, Olive Oil and Salt
You Make: Pesto
Quick and delicious, all you need to do is grind the basil leaves with oil and salt in a blender. Also add garlic, pine nuts or walnuts and parmesan cheese if you have those handy. Scoop up the pesto with bread or use it as a sauce for pasta.
There are many more dishes you can rustle up using these recipes as cues – varieties of cakes using Nutella or peanut butter, several salad dressings, open sandwiches, pasta and other kinds of pancakes and Indian chillas with just three major ingredients.