I think I’ve gone cuckoo. I’ve begun speaking to myself, my walls and my plants. Out loud. I fall asleep on Olivia, one of the four locations in my tiny Bandra studio, where I read and snack. Everyday. I look forward to my weekly Nature’s Basket and Neelam grocery runs like it’s opening night at an art show or a shopping spree in Italy. My life, as I live it, is changing.
What I want to pontificate over is my deep-seated need to knead dough. I’ve been avoiding kneading dough since Hina (my cook) was furloughed and the Great Realisation arrived. Anywho, after an endless and pointless, 47 minutes chat with V where I ranted about the lack of rotis in my life, I rolled up my sleeves and set to work.
I lie. I haven’t worn any garment with sleeves until my wrist in 40 days.
It isn’t a 9th-grade chemistry lab period or a math theorem tuition class. (The toughest, most traumatic experiences of my entire life). It’s powdered wheat and H2O. How difficult could it be? So competitive-over-achiever me decided to Google things to make with dough. On page 7 of my Google search, two words revealed itself.
And thus began an avalanche of tears, fracturing every brave facade of acceptance. I crumbled and wept. Wept for the great collapse of Izumi and Kofuku. Wept that I’d die never having been to Japan or China. Wept that I’d never eat another Gyoza again in my life.
Pain is a sharp reminder of your inner strength. A broken heart is a determined heart. And with these platitudes buoying my spirits I decided to cook.
It’s rather simple, and I say this with utmost humility. It has 4 steps.
- The Great Ingredient Sourcing
- The Great Filling
- The Great Assemblage
- The Great Pan-Frying
The Great Ingredient Sourcing was simpler than my pandemic-paranoid mind had expected. Masked, armed with a sanitiser, cash (my butcher ONLY accepts cash), and a short walk later, I returned home with –
- 250 grams of minced pork
- A bundle of spring onions
- Green and red chillies
- Ginger and garlic
The Great Filling – all these ingredients were sanitised, washed, minced and mixed with salt and pepper and a splash of lime, a bit of soy and a bit of sesame oil and promptly refrigerated.
(Gosh, please be creative here, I can imagine a kingdom of deliciousness you could add, shitake, cabbage, all manner of leafy things can be minced and mixed into your ground animal of choice).
The Great Assemblage, knead all-purpose flour with a nip of salt, with tepid or luke or room temp water. Knead, cover, rest. Now you need to wash your hands. Again. If anyone is counting this is the 7th time I’ve washed my hands.
The next step is impossible to do without a playlist. Here’s the OST to my Pork Gyoza.
Exalted, confident, and hungry – I popped my Alprazolam before kneading the peacefully rested dough on a well-floured surface, made tiny balls of dough and rolled them out as circularly as possible. Taking a moment to strew imaginary flower petals on every human who has achieved this culinary feat. After this futile tokenism, fill your filling and go wild scrimping and scrunching them shut. Countless hours of my YouTube education proved mildly/wildly successful. However, here’s a bro/pro-tip – pinch the centre and then fold the two ends. If this makes any sense at all!
The Great Pan-Frying is a glorious example of culinary perfection. If you thought steamed dumplings were divine, steamed AND pan-fried is another level of godliness. Pack the flavour bombs into a well-oiled pot/pan. Fry on medium-high for 5 minutes, Siri turned on the timer like a good boy. Once the backsides sizzle and shine, with the confidence of a Hong Kong street hawker shove half a cup of water into the pot/pan and cover. Good boy Siri should set the steamer-clock to 7 minutes.
Balancing all this deliciousness – I handcrafted the sauce of the century. Honey, a splash each of fish sauce and soy, minced garlic and chillies, and a glug of sesame oil. Behold! A velvety, weightless, fragile dipping sauce for your tastebuds.
I ate them straight out of the pot/pan, often burning my mouth but sending loud hallelujahs for my determination and my need to knead.
Pork mince – From Joseph’s Cold Storage in Bandra, Pali Hill
Everything else – From Nature’s Basket on Hill Road
Cover photo – From Buenosia Carol