1. How did you first meet you wife?
Chef Mattoo: I met her first in the Kitchen of Best Western Surya Hotel in New Delhi; India. The hotel now is known as THE SURYAA. While we both were a part of the Food & Beverage department she was working in Room Service department and I was in the kitchen of the hotel.
2. Give us first hand details of your confessing your love to her.?
Chef Mattoo: Behind the scenes in hotel business the Service teams and production teams are constantly aiming to score over each other. Despite this love hate relationship; I noticed that unlike her other colleagues who would be placing orders from their desk; she was humble and would take efforts in coming and interacting with my team however our fights were over proving the fact that who was more efficient and hard working and they continued till long time. It was when both of us went on our annual leaves respectively that I first realised what she meant to me. Post our vacations when we met again; I was taken in by a surprise that she had brought me homemade wines from Goa her native place. And I too was not behind for it was first time that I had shopped for a lady in my life. I had bought Kashmir’s most popular attire” Kashmiri Embroidered salwar kameez (Women Shirt and loose pants). It was when we both gifted each other, we realised that there was something more in this relationship. In due course the challenge to come together started bothering us since we both hailed from two completely different backgrounds. It was her selfless love and conviction that brought us together forever. Our journey had no formal confessions of love; our feelings and expressions were spontaneous and the fondness grew with each day.
3. Tell us about your first foodie date? What did you cook for her?
Chef Mattoo: Well we didn’t have first date as such. But we are foodies and it was actually our food preferences and tastes that bonded us so well. As they say food is the way to a man’s heart; in our case it was cooking for each other and indulging in food over conversations that brought us closer.
I was mostly late from my work shifts and she would be early from work and would cook for me. She used to make this wonderful Masala Omelette (omelette loaded with veggies and chillies browned well) a recipe which was tailor-made for my taste buds; unlike what is served in most hotels.
I was impressed with her knack for culinary skills. That’s so far my favourite dish closer to my heart. It’s was not about how grand or unique the dish was but it was the sentiment and the gesture that cleaned bowled me.
4. Give us your most memorable romantic moment with her?
Chef Mattoo: Well it was when we both were away on vacations and came back buying gifts for each other despite the fact that we both were not lovers. The moment when she came to gift me those wines; I saw a spark in her eyes that confessed her love for me. And when I gifted her my gift, unfortunately the colour of fabric was what she never use to wear for some odd reason. She believed that wearing that colour would bring her misfortune; I was sad and probably she sensed it in my eyes. The next moment I hear her saying softly “but I shall wear this dress as you never know when misfortunes change to fortunes of one’s life.”
Our eyes met and there was pin drop of silence; I think we both knew it was Love.
We have walked life’s various terrains for 27 long years together and our love has grown stronger only. Our daughter is the focal point of our life; with her around we feel blessed.
5. Tell us her most favourite Dish? And what cooking this valentine?
Chef Mattoo: Hmm…It’s difficult to narrow down one single dish as we both are foodies and our love for street food is everlasting. Anita my wife loves Chinese Hakka Noodles made on street joints and other Indian Delicacies like Ram Ladoo (street specials).
In our times valentine was not so popular I guess we were lucky (laughs) we used to celebrate our love for food every day. For us spending time together over food is romantic.
Over years I must confession that Anita is a better cook. She has mastered the skills on Traditional Kashmiri Cuisine that makes me happy. There is another quality of her’s that inspires me and makes me proud; her humility, she cooks regularly for street kids. Kids adore her and look forward for her meals. There is no better service than serving mankind. I think that love is pure and selfless.
As far as the growing tradition of valentine goes well we both are cooking love for these kids as usual, the trend was started by my wife few years ago and we prefer to stay by it.
Other than that for my lovely wife in evening I am serving her “Kali Gajjar ka halwa with rum soaked raisins and honey glazed nuts topped with silver leaves.” (Black carrot dessert with rum soaked raisins, honey glazed nuts topped with silver leaves). She loves when I try new recipes and the fact that she is the one who gets to taste them first.
Here’s the recipe for your readers with a special message from both of us.
“Serving Love on a Plate is like rising in Love” while you celebrate love with your partners don’t forget to spread love and happiness around.
Anita and Chef Umesh Mattoo.
RECIPE: Indian Dessert
Black Carrot Halwa with Rum Soaked Raisins with Honey Glazed Nuts
|Black carrots||– 1 kg.|
|Sugar||– 150 gms.|
|Ghee (Clarified Butter)||– 70 gms|
|Almond Flakes||– 250 gms|
|Cashew Nuts||– 20 gms|
|Pistachio||– 15 gms|
|Honey||– 30 gms|
|Rum||– 30 ml|
|Raisins||– 20 gms.|
|Green cardamom powder||– 2 gms.|
|Silver leaf||– 05 Nos.|
|Khoya||– 100 gms.|
(Khoa (also khoya) is a milk food widely used in the Indian cuisine, made of either dried whole milk or milk thickened by heating in an open iron pan.)
• Grate the carrots with long shreds and put them in a heavy bottom pan kadai (Indian Wok).
• Add sugar and cook till the moisture of carrots is absorbed and water is evaporated.
• Add Ghee (clarified butter) to the cooked carrot and further cook on slow flame for about 5 minutes till ghee separates.
• Roast almond flakes, cashew nuts and pistachios.
• Heat honey in a small pan and add the roasted nuts. Cook till nuts are coated with honey.
• Soak raisins in rum for about 30 minutes.
• Mix soaked raisins with khoya and cardamom powder.
• Add the mixture in carrots.
• The dish is now ready to be served.
Serve hot garnished with silver leaves and honey glazed nuts.
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