CHENNAI: Michelle Satur Shyam can cook dishes for a full thali in 20 minutes. Poriyal, aviyal, pepper chicken, kadhai paneer and dum noodles are just a few of the hundred other dishes she can cook in under five minutes. This 35-year-old foodie also loves exploring Thai, Chinese, Anglo-Indian, south Indian and Continental cuisines. “The One Pot One Shot (OPOS) method has made cooking more easy and interesting for me. It is built on science and it has de-skilled cooking for thousands of families. OPOS is special because I am able to cook up an entire spread with little to no water in a pressure baker,” says the mother of two.
When Michelle was pregnant for the second time, she found it hard to juggle a full-time job, her elder child’s studies and her health. “One of my friends used to pack food for me regularly. It was absolutely delicious — simple south Indian Tambrahm food. When I asked her, she said OPOS had come to her rescue. She introduced me to OPOS because I was frantically looking for a way to cook fast as well as healthy food for my family,” she says.
Michelle always appreciated different cuisines. But, never had an interest in the mundane routine of cooking as she found the process too laborious.“It is only after I started OPOS cooking that my interest developed. It has been only a year since I began this journey and I am extremely passionate about cooking now,” she says.
Being an adventurous person, Michelle is always open to trying out new dishes. “Unfortunately, I never learned the whys and hows of these cuisines and relied heavily on ingredients rather than techniques. OPOS shifted the focus from recipe to technique and I found it extremely easy to explore various cuisines,” she says.
Michelle believes that one must strip the dish down to its building blocks. That is where authenticity lies. Not in the masalas, not in the amount of oil, or how long it took to cook. “I would say as long as one is capturing the essence of a dish and converting it to OPOS, chances are higher of it being authentic,” she shares.
The OPOS method is a timesaver and has given Michelle the time to pursue other interests. It also relieves her from the anxiety she had before the start of cooking every meal.
Michelle’s favourite is the Anglo-Indian cuisine because of the simplicity of ingredients and the flavours that are a fusion of Indian and European. “The dish I am proud of cooking is the hearty chicken stew, a mildly spiced chicken and vegetable broth with mint. Another dish is devilled pork chops because the flavours are simply unique. It has the sourness of vinegar balanced by the sweetness of caramelised sugar, and chillies,” she says.
There are a few dishes which she can’t get right and is still trying to master. “It took over one and a half hours just to get the toor dal cooked prior to OPOS. With this technique, I have had a few failures but that was because I didn’t understand it properly. Any dish with beef has been a challenge for me because of the quality and type of meat. I’m still experimenting with beef and mutton in getting the timings right. As weird as it sounds, I have difficulty with making rotis. My dough consistency is a hit-or-miss for me most of the time. But I think I will get over that hurdle soon,” she shares.
To minimise on efforts going waste, she first attempts simple dishes, gains confidence and then experiments. She takes notes when she tries a dish from a new cuisine. “I am my worst critic, so I am always going over my notes to adjust quantities and ingredients. In some cases, noting down the number of whistles or time taken is helpful, especially for meats,” she says.
Michelle also regularly posts her new dishes on the OPOS support group, which is a closed Facebook group for members and gets a lot of comments on the delicious dishes she makes. “Cooking is a life skill. Everyone must know to cook. In some way, I find OPOS food therapeutic. I am able to focus my energy on the work at hand and able to collect my thoughts while I wait for the whistles of the pressure baker to go off,” she says.
The price of food at restaurants is what keeps her motivated to explore new cuisines. “I want to re-create authentic food that is flavourful and affordable. Eating out has become so costly and isn’t even worth the price. I also like what I cook so that motivation comes from within,” she says.