Event Innovation and focus on nutrition marked the Freedom Refined Sunflower Oil’s The Hindu MetroPlus Cookery contest in Kukatpally, writes Zeenab Aneez

If prizes were to be given for braving the summer heat and waiting patiently for judges to finish making their decisions, all the women who participated in Freedom Oil’s Hindu Metro plus Cookery Contest were champions. At 10:30 a.m this Sunday, women from within the area and afar gathered at the Naineni Ramaiahs Metro Marvel Gardens in Kukatpally to showcase their culinary skills. From ‘vegetarian chicken’ to a brown rice dessert to a drink named after the first and only female Prime Minister of Turkey, there was a lot to see, learn and of course, taste!

The saying ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ held true in the case of many women who had eureka moments in the kitchen purely by wondering how to make healthy food more attractive for their kids and families. Nirmala, a homemaker who had prepared ‘Flaxi bites’ a dish of bread and flaxseed says that this is a great afterschool snack because it is tasty as well as good for health. “Flaxseed had a lot of nutrients including omega 3 fatty acids which are not found in most vegetables. This is a great way to make my kids eat it. At home, I cut the bread into different shapes to make it more attractive for the kids,” she informs. Winner of the sweets and desserts category, Sangeetha Kante chocolate desire was made of mashed brown rice, oatmeal biscuits and chocolate.

While many served up family recipes passed down from their grandmothers, the other chose to experiment with these traditional recipes, keeping in mind taste and health. Vadas were steamed instead of fried and substitutes like soya found a place in biryani, rolls, kheer and even the Greek specialty, Moussakka. T. Supriya, a homemaker gave the Gujarati snack, Kandvi a green twist by adding spinach along with the besan. We also saw different variations of the ladoo; multi-grain, dry-fruits, oatmeal and ragi.

The more adventurous participants tried their hand at fusion. Shravya Sarraf, a final year MBA student will give nachos a run for their pesos with her desi chips with dip. Made from a mixture that included ragi, jowar, rice and oatmeal, the chips were served with salsa and a yoghurt dip. Apart from this, there was also a combination of chat and pizza as well as a chocolate flavoured thandai.

As difficult as it was to keep the dishes looking fresh and appetising for a couple of hours in the dry heat, participants did not hold back when it came to presentation. Mariam Khan, winner of last years contest had the foresight to keep her dish in a hot case until it was time for tasting. Some, like Janaki, chose to prepare her dish, Hyderabadi Pav, on the spot! Others were not so lucky; dishes like Crème Brulee and Chocolate pudding began to melt in the heat.

If there were points for quirky nomenclature, Veena Dudigama would have bagged first prize. Her dish, a drink of cashewnuts, milk and misri, flavoured with cardamom was named after former Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. “I remember reading an article from when she paid a visit to India which mentioned that she liked cashewnuts and thought ‘Why not?’” says Veena, a practitioner of alternate medicine. Pronounced ‘Tansu Chiller’ in Turkish the name is apt for the summer cooler. Veena also said that the drink was packed with enough nutrients to make a wholesome substitute for breakfast or lunch. Usha Singh won the second prize in the vegetarian category for her ironically named ‘vegetarian chicken’ where she substituted tender jackfruit for chicken in a spicy curry. “Not only does it have the texture of chicken but it has equal amounts of protein too,” she informed.

Winners of The Hindu MetroPlus Cookery Contest 2013

Round III, Kukatpally

Desserts and Sweets:

Brown Rice Chocolate Delight – Sangeetha Kante

Fruity Jamoon

– K. Shoba

Drumstick Halwa

– S. Lata


Nutri Garbanzo

– Samta Singhee

Vegetarian Chicken

– Usha Singh

Gift House

- Shalini Agarwal


Desi Sandwich Treat

– R. Kavitha

Chicken Nanavati

– Shifa Shoaib

Mandakini Chicken

– Sowmya R.