Food Styling | Healthy Pulav with Greens and Avocado Chutney – Not Everything in Life is Logical
“Helping others without any expectations is just as much a gift to yourself as it is to the person you give to.” ~ Kat Von
I received a phone call from a photographer friend the other day, “Hello, Sanjeeta, there is a photo shoot day after tomorrow and I said yes to the client, believing that you are there to help me out with the ‘food styling‘ part.”
“You have to cook 15 plus recipes in the studio and style the same. Things moved too fast, and I could not ask for more time from the client.” He concluded hurriedly.
And I was like “What?”. From sourcing props, shopping raw ingredients, planning the shots and cooking recipes in the studio to styling the sets …all in a day’s time…single-handedly…
“Please excuse me this time”. I replied politely.
“Before deciding anything, can you please come tomorrow morning for a formal meet with the Ad agency? And please, please don’t say no, I need your help this time” he responded in a low gloomy voice.
“Huh…give me some time, I shall come back to you in an hour” I replied back in my last attempt to buy some time and to escape from the situation.
I was discussing the pros and cons of taking up this mammoth project with hubby on the dinner table that night, who let me spoke without any interruption and was able to figure out the confusion going in my mind.
“I understand the difficulty of executing this enormous project single-handedly, in such a short span of time.”
“Hmm……I also remember you worked with him couple of years back and that project did help give a wider dimension to your online journey of a food blogger to that of a food stylist.” He spoke to me softly.
“I suggest, you make a visit to the agency, before taking any hasty decision. Understand their requirement, put forward your constraints and then decide if you can take up the project or not” concluded my thoughtful hubby in a very convincing tone.
I did visit the Ad agency, met the art directors and the concern persons the next morning. The staff was very supportive and listened patiently to what I had to say. Barring a few changes in the schedule they convinced me take up the project.
I turned around to look at my photographer friend, who was sitting quietly at a distance, following the entire conversation with tension written all over his face. He was almost in a state of pure joy, much relieved.
“I have no words to express my gratitude, Sanjeeta, thanks for everything” He said in an overly submissive tone, accompanying me downstairs.
I smiled, but was feeling good to help a friend in need.
Everyone involved in the project made sure that I was comfortable during the entire shoot. They even agreed to change the timings to suit my convenience.
The two days project was a sort of product shoot, where the images shot are to be used on the packaging of a popular brand in South India called Savorit.
I kept one half of a day for prop shopping and the rest for getting fresh ingredients for the recipes.
I segregated the dishes to be shot, according to the time taken to cook that recipe and took extra time to semi-cook most of the recipes at home. The multiple brands of sauces and spices I bought for the shoot helped giving a wonderful colour the the images.
I even prepared the temperings for savory dishes and chopped & fried nuts for the sweet dishes at home. These small steps did make my job easy.
At the home front, I got up around 5 am on the day of shoot. Cooked a simple and filling Pulav or pilaf with greens in morning, and refrigerated it in a microwave safe box with a crunchy Avocado chutney as accompaniment. I was back from the shoot at around 8.30pm, hubby reheated our dinner and we had a lovely cozy dinner together.
1. Healthy Pilaf with Greens
- 2 cups brown Basmati rice
- 1/2 cup frozen corn kernel
- 3-4 green chillies
- 1 small onion
- 2 tbsp. oil
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup warm water
- 6-7 coves
- 2 start anise
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 packed cups of Greens*
- 2 garlic pearls
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
Method; I used a tightly packed cup of shredded spinach and the rest one cup of coriander and mint leaves.
Wash and soak quick cooking brown Basmati rice (easily available in market) for an hour.
Chop onion and green chillies finely.
Puree all the ingredients listed in the ‘to grind’ list.
Heat oil in a pan or a pressure cooker and add all the whole spices listed above sauté for a few seconds. Add chopped onion and green chilies and sauté for another 2 minutes on low flame.
Pour the ground puree with green and cook the paste for 2-3 minutes.
Add rice, salt and sauté it in the paste for 2 minutes.
Pour one cup warm water if you are using a pressure cooker or about 2 cups of warm water if you are cooking in a pan.
Cover the pan and cook on high heat for first five minutes and then lower the heat till the rice is done.
Cook the pilaf in a pressure cooker for just one whistle, let it cool comltely before opening it.
Serve the Pilaf with yogurt Raita or salad.
2. Avocado – Tomato Chutney
- 1 medium ripe Avocado
- 3 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
- 1 large tomato
- 1 small onion
- 1 green chilies
- 1 garlic pearl (optional)
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- A pinch of sugar
- Salt to taste
Method; Make a lengthwise slit in Avocado, twist the fruit and take out the seed. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon and roughly chop it.
Pluck, wash and chop coriander and mint leaves.
Roughly chop tomato and onion.
Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend for a few seconds to make a coarse paste. I like chunks of vegetables and fruits and some greens peeping out from my chutney.
Grind it for longer time if you like creamy and smooth paste consistency.
Do visit ‘Blur16 Photogrpahy‘, a beautiful face-book page managed by this young and dedicated photographer friend of mine.
Not everything in life is logical…sometimes it pays to listen to your heart. I did take a long time to get convinced for handling the entire project single-handedly, but ‘am glad I took it up.
Helping others carries its own rewards and doing good to others does more good for you.
I was able to cross my comfort zone and work under extreme pressure. It certainly was tiring, but a very fulfilling shoot.