We live in a place that is a bit of a tourist haven so you’ll find a lot of activities here are tourist oriented. This includes restaurants and eateries so now we can boast of names well known around the world including Subway, Dominos Pizza, KFC, Baskin Robbins. For some reason, McDonalds haven’t made an appearance here so far, not that I’m complaining.
I know one person who would love to see a McDonalds come to Goa, and that’s my daughter. She’s pretty much into eating healthy but loves the occasional “junk food” treat. However, most such places here do not offer that many vegetarian options, and those that do aren’t all that great and are probably “junk” food because they only deserve to be junked and are a waste of good money!
I remember when Akshaya was a little over 4 and saw the McDonald advertisements on television for the first time. She wasn’t really interested in the food but she wanted the plastic toys they were giving away for free with every meal. “Collect the whole set” the ad said, and seeing my daughter’s reaction, I could see the ads were getting through to their target audience!
Soon after that we were in Portugal for a few months and on a visit to Lisbon, we came across a “Big M”. I still remember the disappointment on Akshaya’s face when she found out that they didn’t serve any vegetarian food at this McDonalds. Even the fries were cooked in animal fat!
All we could do was promise her a McDonalds experience whenever we travelled to an Indian city that had one. Many months later, we visited Chennai and trust our daughter to remember “the” promise! We decided to indulge her. After all, a big city like Chennai had to have a McDonald’s somewhere.
After taking care of some work and shopping, we decided it would be nice to have our lunch at McDonalds. We asked our taxi driver if he could take us there, and he was clueless as he had apparently never even heard of the name and didn’t know what we were talking about!
So we started asking for directions, and we had various very good natured and helpful people point us in all directions telling us we weren’t very far from McDonalds.
To cut a long story short, we spent a couple of hours in heavy traffic looking for a McDonalds which, as it finally turned out, Chennai never had! That quest ended with one very dejected little kid and three very tired and hungry people getting off at the first decent restaurant desperate for their lunch.
Akshaya has since eaten quite a few McDonald meals in other cities she has visited, including Chennai which now has them. I have come to the conclusion that while it is fun to eat out, a lot of the time, many of these treats are better prepared at home. Most of them can be made easily, and even if they take a bit of time and effort, things become easier with a little planning ahead.
Take the case of burgers. It doesn’t take much time to prepare the patties and you can always do them ahead and freeze them for use later. Then all you need are burger buns, some vegetables and cheese or whatever you choose to put in your burgers. They’re so much healthier and if you choose carefully, they actually make for a balanced meal that everyone loves.
I get pretty good burger buns at the local bakery/ store so it doesn’t make sense to make them at home. But this time I decided to make some from scratch, just for the fun of it. It’s another matter that I like to bake bread, and had seen a recipe for what is supposed to be the best burger bun out there. Never having eaten it, I wouldn’t know, but I was willing to make it to see if this bun was indeed worth the attention is got. Best, I have no idea but I can tell you that thebun baked by Hidefumi Kubota at the Comme Ça is really good.
It is a light brioche bun made in the style of brioche with some butter and egg and this makes all the difference. I made mine with a bit of oatmeal flour, but you can go ahead and use all regular flour like the original recipe suggests.
Having decided to make my vegetable burgers from scratch I decided to make them as “healthy” as I could. For my burger patties, I used black eyed beans and rolled oats along with mashed vegetables.
And I baked some potato wedges in the oven instead of the usual deep-fried finger chips/ fries. These wedges are seasoned with herbs and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Here is what gives the baked potato wedge its crunch. First of all, soak the raw potato wedges in cold water for about 15 minutes and discard the water. This ensures that some of the starch gets out of the potato. You can do this twice, but I do it only once and find it’s more than enough. The other thing to do is to par-boil the potato wedges. Drain the water and then pat the wedges dry. This makes the wedges crisp up on the edges very nicely. And the best part is that the crunch remains even after they’ve cooled down a couple of hours later (if they last that long)
“The journey of a thousand pounds begins with a single burger” according to Chris O’Brien, but with this burger I can promise you that the journey would probably take at least four times longer!
Brioche Style Burger Buns.
“It requires a certain kind of mind to see beauty in a hamburger bun.”
Ray Kroc, creator of the McDonald’s franchise.
(Adapted from The New York Times)