Time to catch up on some interesting recipes shared by Bency Koshy who talks of becoming a food stylist, professional baker-blogger due to her life phase of stepping into motherhood. Bency is a mom to a 5 year old, a self-taught baker and food photographer. She loves travelling and currently juggles many roles from being Pastry chef and dessert consultant for restaurants to mentoring baking enthusiasts.
Talking to Mums and Stories over an email interaction, Bency shares, “ I was born and brought up in Dubai to working parents. I finished my schooling in Dubai and came down to India for college. As kids we were never encouraged to be anywhere near the kitchen and it was totally clear out area for us kids.
As a family we binged and hogged on good balanced food. Mostly home cooked and an occasional KFC or Mc Donalds. Festivals like Easter, Onam, Eid and Christmas was when everybody cooked like crazy and entertained guests.
My mum though working had a great interest in cooking and baking and whatever little time she got on her off days she would experiment and feed us. Every two years we travelled to India and that’s where our grannies from both mum and dads side would make all the tasty stuff and loads of things for us to take back. So good and tasty food was always part of my upbringing but i was never drawn to cooking at all.
I always hear stories of individuals of how they were inspired by their grannies or mums to cook and learn cooking. It was never the case for me. Ii am a graduate in English literature and later did hospital management and immediately started working by 22.
I started travelling to other states in the south where i came upon a lot of different types of food. i survived on cafeteria food and never even occurred to me that cooking was an option.
By 25 i got married still working and still not cooking and in a year moved to Bangalore. A year later i started watching Masterchef Australia which airs on Star world which i can surely say without any doubt put the mere thought of cooking at home.
The contestants were simple home cooks who are cooking a storm out there which got me thinking….maybe it’s not rocket science; maybe i should give it a try and i gradually started experimenting and thanks to my hubby and friends who sadly were my scape goats.
Baking still did not happen for me yet.
We moved to Mumbai for the next three years. Cooking had become a normal routine and weekends were all geared up for experiments. Trying out different cuisines, making it look pretty on the plate became a habit. Both hubby and me have been complete foodies and we loved restaurant hopping and trying new stuff totally. My respect for food and cooking grew day by day.
By that time TLC and Fox life started airing interesting chefs and their cooking and baking shows. Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and others became my food heroes. Social media was improving with everybody sharing inspiring food stories. The whole food scene was changing for me.
Meanwhile my daughter was born in 2012 and i decided to resign my job. A lot of free time at home to take care of my angel and also to graze into unexplored waters, and that’s how i started baking. My first ever bake was an apple cinnamon pie in my microwave and it was a total success. And i literally never looked back and my journey started with baking. I was never scared of trying out something new however scary it truly was which gave me the confidence I needed. Now that I was getting the taste right, the focus shifted to how pretty I can make it look on the plate. I had bought a Sony digital camera when my daughter was born which i used extensively for food photography initial days.
After three years we moved to Bangalore, by which time i bought an OTG for baking. Slowly friends started to order cakes and cupcakes and i got very good reviews which gave me the confidence to experiment with flavours and combinations.
I find it very boring to do the same thing twice and i always try to give my own twist to classic flavours and combinations. I also started having encouraging clients who pushed me to try new flavours and combinations as well.
My fb page- A pinch of salt! A pinch of sugar came up during this time and Ii started posting pictures and recipes where it developed into a kind of a food blog . I was found and got to be part of inspiring food groups and blogs on social media.
Also Pinterest and Instagram changed my perception of food styling and food photography. Only then I realized what i had been doing all this while had been wrong. It was a total change in my approach to how food can be presented and captured on camera. I attended a 2 day basic photography workshop which gave me an insight into how the DSLR worked and lighting and techniques and tips to take better photos.
For me the visual treat is as important as the taste when it comes to food experience and Ii wanted to give the same experience to the client. I believe people eat with their eyes first, so the visual appeal just like the taste is extremely important. How beautifully you can present the dessert on the plate.
My most important guide is instagram for food styling but I try to give my own twist to it. In food styling and food photography I am an amateur as I am learning every single day but is has been an interesting journey.
I try my best to avoid any kind of processed ingredients and get hold of seasonal fresh produce to make my desserts. So instead white sugar substitutes I use jaggery, palm sugar, dates etc
I use only good premium chocolates with at least 50% cocoa and good quality cocoa powder and have never used artificial essences at all. I make my own vanilla extract for my baking.
End of the day I feel as a baker one should feel responsible for a healthy self and for others and try to use as much genuine produce as one can find and fight food adulteration and encourage more organic, fresh and seasonal produce.
Being a mum has been the best part of my life that too of a daughter. I enjoy every bit of time we spent together. It’s literally like growing up together. I couldn’t be more happier to have been there for her from the start at every important stage till now. As a growing child i missed my mum a lot as she was working and i was very sure that i wanted to be there for my daughter all the time and hence the resignation. Daughters are super fun to be with, dressing them up, shopping for them, and my munchkin is a super ball of energy, sense of humor and naughtiness.”
One can find Bency Koshy on her instagram profile at https://www.instagram.com/bencykoshy/
Bency shares two recipes for Mums and stories
1) Strawberry lemon granita!!
Strawberries are in season now. Red, juicy, fresh fruit for the winter. Make your own granita at home with this super easy recipe. Sweet, tangy and bright red just perfect to lift your senses up. A perfect after meal addiction!!
(Photography By A Pinch of Salt! A Pinch of Sugar)
3/4cup organic non processed sugar
A good pinch of salt
2tbsps lemon juice
3cups sliced strawberries
Extra strawberries for garnish
Melt the sugar, salt with the water and add the lemon juice. Blend the strawberries into a smooth puree. Add to the sugar water. Pour into a rectangle pan and freeze for 40minutes. Take it out and grate with a fork from the sides to the middle. Repeat this process every 40 minutes at least for 3 times. Cover and freeze and use the next day. It’s a wonderful after meal dessert which you can do one day ahead. Stores perfect in the freezer.
While playing add cut fresh strawberries and enjoy in a bowl or martini glasses.
Recipe 2 -Baked Whole wheat Churros
(Photography By A Pinch of Salt! A Pinch of Sugar)
Tossed in Cinnamon, brown sugar, sea salt with a 50% dark chocolate dip. My healthy baked version of this popular Mexican dessert which is normally fried. So no guilt trip!!
One word if advice to those who want to try the baked whole wheat version.
Do not store them as their shelf life is nil.
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2tbsps brown sugar
1cup whole meal flour
Tossed in a combination of brown sugar, cinnamon powder and salt all pulsed once in a processor.
Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius.
Combine water, salt, sugar and butter and bring to boiling point. Take off heat and add the vanilla and sifted flour and mix till combined. Put on heat again and cook till the mixture forms a ball. Cool it down and add the eggs gradually. Mix well. This can be done in a processer.
Pipe them using a star nozzle on to a lined baking tray and bake them for 20 minutes or till golden brown and cooked inside.
Switch off oven and leave it in for a further 10 minutes. Toss them in the cinnamon sugar dusting while they are warm.
Make your own melted chocolate dip for the Churros.
You can use good quality dark chocolate melted with cream or hot chocolate mixture.
We at Mums and Stories thank Bency for sharing her journey that can be inspiring for many others too to turn into food blogging and on the recipes perfect for the season.