Vegan Pumpkin Soup with Pear and Jalapeños made using just 4 ingredients | My Recipe Inspirations
Last week, a journalist was talking to me to get my inputs for a food story she was writing. She asked me this interesting question that set me thinking.
How do you come up with a new recipe?
In my case, I took to cooking rather late in life, post my mid-20s. I did not get my cooking started with a bunch of heirloom recipes handed over to me. My cooking was mostly intuitive and using whatever ingredients I could find in the fridge + pantry. I did crave for some family specials like arachuvitta sambar or moar kuzhambu or usili, from time to time and those recipes were taken down over a call to my mum or aunt.
When people ask me why I started blogging, it was mainly to keep track of all that intuitive cooking. If a dish turned out good, thanks to the recipe logging, I could manage to make it a second time.
Cut to present day, I cook a lot. Some recipes traditional and some entirely my own creations. Do you want to know where I get my inspirations from?
Here are some recipe inspirations
Yes, I am the person who will always tune in to a cooking show, in the rare occasion that I turn on the telly, much to the angst of my son ???? But hey, times change. And I’ve managed to get him hooked too. We both follow Masterchef Australia very keenly (on Hotstar), to the point where we know who cooked what in which episode. This season of Masterchef Australia has me dreaming about honey combs and parfaits. Quite often, these international cooking shows feature recipes for which we many not find the ingredients or equipment locally. This forces us to make our own substitutions and come up with a recipe inspired by the original one.
There have been instances when I ate a dish at a restaurant for lunch, loved it to bits and recreated the same at home for dinner. And sometimes, I even end up blogging about it. The cold rice salad from Monkey Bar is one such recipe. Eating out expands our understanding of cuisines, flavour combinations and techniques that are truly inspiring for someone who loves to cook. This also applies to eating at friends’ places. How many times have you eaten a great dish at a party and asked the host for the recipe. I have for sure. A palak paneer paratha that the cook at my friend Puja’s house would serve us hot off the tava is now a staple in my house. We do end up giving it our own touch, because we only end up getting a rough idea of the recipe from our friends.
This is by far the most exciting source of inspiration for me to come up with a new recipe. Sometimes, it is due to a surplus of ingredients such as a bumper crop of pumpkin or sweet potato from my kitchen garden. When you have so much of one vegetable, you want to try out something new with it. And sometimes, you find an ingredient for the first time in your local markets. For example – I found Gondhoraj Lebu (a variety of lime) on my visit to HAL market and spent a better part of my morning sniffing the happy citrus aromas. Someone I know sent me a small bag of fresh jalapeños from their farm near Pune and that set my heart racing. Should I pickle it, sauce it or soup it. This is indeed a delicious conundrum to have.
Bloggers and websites
Bloggers definitely more than websites, because someone talking to you in first person is infinitely more exciting than general write ups on websites. Do you also feel the same?
Food bloggers expose you to the cooking in their homes, which you get to experience as though you are sitting at their dining table. What exciting times we live in! Given the breadth of regional Indian cuisine, this totally blows my mind away. I can cook a Kathiawari meal or a dish from Kongunadu, depending on what my heart desires. This may not be a new recipe created in my kitchen, but definitely something new for my tastebuds. Or I may end up putting my own spin on it, given the availability of ingredients at my end.
Talking about creating new recipes, this Vegan Pumpkin soup is one such inspired soup recipe for autumn. I accidentally ordered one whole pumpkin >2 kilos, from the home delivery website. I had a few pears in the fruit basket. Combine that with a lot of fresh jalapeños in the fridge, and the idea for this vegan pumpkin soup was born. When I’m playing around with a new combination of ingredients, I always like to keep it simple. This soup has only 4 main ingredients. The toppings are totally up to you.
If you don’t find fresh jalapeños, use regular green chillies or jalapeños in brine. Apples make a good substitute for pears.