‘Cooking has given me a purpose’

Published: 06th December 2018 05:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th December 2018 05:43 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Welcome to Sunu’s kitchen’, reads a tiny board outside Sunu George’s compact kitchen of her humble home in Aminjikarai. Jars of cookies and slices of freshly baked caramel cake seek our attention. The heady scent of soaked fruits to be mixed in the plum cake batter fills the air. Christmas has arrived early at this homemaker’s house. 

“We’d be busily chopping fruits and preparing them for our traditional Christmas plum cake. My father loved pouring the rum during cake mixing. I have three siblings. My sisters would make boondi laddu and jalebi, and we’d distribute it to the neighbours. Christmas carols will be played all the while. It was a ritual and I cherish it till date. I’ve received orders for caramel and plum cakes from friends so the process of making has started in a full swing. It’s going to keep me occupied for the next few days,” says Sunu.

Photos: Bobby Derin

Sunu, who was brought up in Kottayam, pursued a bachelor’s degree in Home Science, before signing up for a dietician’s course. After marriage, she settled in Chennai in 1996.In 2003, the course of her life took an unexpected turn when she lost her hand in an accident. With her family support, Sunu bounced back with grit and guts to make independence her handy tool.

“I can make 15 rotis in half an hour. The constant effort that was needed to complete a task just because I did not have a hand was always there in my mind. I can peel the skin of vegetables, clean and chop by myself. But it takes a lot of time and my hand starts to hurt. Larger orders are hard to achieve because of this. The whole kitchen becomes messed up at the end of the day. I need to plan and bake small quantities at intervals with my small OTG. I’ve never given up because of pain,” Sunu shares.    

Going back to her childhood days, Sunu reminisces, “Breads, stuffed buns, puffs, cakes, name anything and it was baked at home. I vividly recollect sitting in a circle with my grandmother and mother, and deciding on recipes. We would make avalosunda (a traditional snack) and fried delicacies like sweet appam. I still have a 50-year-old red-bound recipe book from my mother. It has hundreds of recipes along with the traditional preparatory methods penned down by my mother and sisters,” said Sunu while flipping through the crumpled pages of the book. 

Six months back, Sunu took up baking as a full-time activity. She supplies her goodies to a vegetable market nearby. Her caramel cake and biscuits are popular. Her husband extends his support by packing the baked goods. The aspiring home chef loves to innovate biscuits, cupcakes and muffins. “We all share recipes. I want to learn to do icing but it could be difficult with one hand. Cooking has given me a sense of purpose and I want to continue it,” shares Sunu. For details, call: 9080482054/9677148230

Caramel cake

Ingredients: Maida: 1 cup, Eggs: 2, Butter: half cup (unsalted), Salt: a pinch, Sugar: 3/4 cup (powdered), Nutmeg powder: half tsp, Cloves: 2 or 3, Cinnamon: 1 inch piece, Caramel syrup: half a cup, Orange peel grated: 2 tsp, Lemon peel: half tsp, Orange juice: half tsp, Vanilla essence: 1 tsp, Baking powder: 1 tsp

Method: Sift the flour with cinnamon powder, grated cloves, nutmeg powder and baking powder and keep it aside.  Beat the butter and sugar till it turns fluffy. Then add eggs one by one and beat again.  Add vanilla essence, grated lemon and orange. Beat well.  Add orange juice, followed by caramalised sugar syrup.  Now slowly mix the flour using a spatula.  Transfer the mixture into a cake tin lined with butter paper and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 40 minutes. 

Butter cookies

Ingredients: Maida: 1 cup, Besan: half a cup, Semolina: two and a half tsp, Powdered sugar: half a cup, Salt: 1 pinch, Cardamom powder: 1 pinch, Ghee: half a cup  (add more if required)

Method: In a bowl, add maida, besan, semolina powder, sugar, salt and cardamom powder and mix well.  Pour the ghee and make a dough.  Divide into 20 portions.  Make a round shape.  Bake in a preheated oven for 18 minutes at 180 degrees.

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