Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cooking....an art or a science?

This was our lunch today. A big bowl of salad and a tall glass of that mysterious beverage!
No, this is not for you all to get a feel for what we eat, but for you to take a good look at that beverage in the tall glass. That - is bubble tea! Also known as pearl tea or boba tea. An Asian drink, it is very popular in the US, especially in cities that have a high Asian population like Seattle, San Jose, DC. My husband and I got addicted to this while in Seattle and have been on the hunt for this in India - any city in India - since we got back. But no luck! So we had given up any hope of ever finding it....TILL, we chanced upon Asian grocery stores in Melbourne and Sydney that had all the necessary ingredients to make your own homemade bubble tea! And so the husband went berserk.....75% of our baggage coming home had to do with this craze.....black tapioca, white tapioca, green tea flavor, taro flavor, mango flavor, milk tea powder and so on.

For those of you who have not had this drink - here's the scoop (ha ha) on it. When you walk into a Boba Tea shop this is what happens.....the person serving will take a huge scoop of giant tapioca pearls - which have been previously cooked and soaked in sugar syrup - and plonk it into a glass. Then into a blender goes a whopping scoop of pre-made tea concentrate, another scoop of your choice of flavor (mango, taro, honeydew, cantaloupe, coconut, pineapple, green tea etc etc) in powder form, and then milk and ice and then its all blended furiously in a machine. This is then poured over the pearls, sealed with a lid and given to you with a fat straw which you jab into the sealed top and slurp away! And as you are drinking it, suddenly the fat black juicy pearls will come up the straw and punch the roof of your mouth! It will either freak you out completely or take you to tapioca heaven!
So where was I? Oh yes, the hubby today decided we should try out making it at home. Or should I say "HE". So in true engineer style he youtubed videos, he researched the ingredients, he calculated, calibrated and converted between metric and Imperial, he took notes, and then satisfied, he headed on to the kitchen, so far a taboo place for him. My kitchen scales were not good enough, so the precision scales came down from his workshop, all utensils lined up in order of the recipe, timers set, thermometers close at hand. I tried to sabotage this scientific approach by telling him to just wing it, but it didn't work! And when he insisted on measuring 1/8 ounce of sticky, gooey honey, I gave up and played the role of photographer!

Here then are pics of the scientific approach to cooking as opposed to my very casual, "a pinch here a pinch there" approach!








So how was it? In one word - delicious and darned close to the real thing. Unfortunately we don't have any fat straws but that would have nailed it I think. But I still believe cooking is more art than science. And this is what my husband says cooking is...."It's an exercise in precision-How much of what ingredient at what temperature for how much time". My mouth is too full of chewy tapioca bubbles to respond to that!

15 comments:

GB said...

Hello Hello! Nope not rocket science (unless you're baking, then it really helps to know the science behind the process! and why should the two be mutually exclusive may I ask?) One of my fav quotes by Feynman is where he talks of how he can see beauty in a rose at an entirely different level too--layered over the visual, the knowledge of what makes things tick makes it all the more awe inspiring!

I have to say I've never really had bubble tea but you've sold it---I'm on the hunt now!

Good to have you back! Loved the peek into R's "cookbook"!

Kala said...

Yes, indeed, have missed that bubble tea. Drank a bit of that in Singapore and then we moved to Hawaii and someone had a little stall selling it:):) Don't think I am brave enough to try making it at home - bravo:):)

arundati said...

i used to read a fashion blog by an asian living in LA and her one addiction after clothes and makeup was Boba.... i know hence, that it is addictive... happy that you got your fix.....for me cooking is instinctive in a make up as you go along... but for many others it is a process of being exact and precise... whatever rocks your boat i guess!!

Meera said...

Can't wait to try bubble tea... looks and sounds delicious.... glad you were able to stock up.... enjoy....Meera xx

Shweta said...

I am on the lookout...will try it as soon as I lay my hands on it !

Shilpa said...

Didn't know of this seemingly delicious beverage until now. Thanks for the introduction with the step by step guide to making it :)

anrosh said...

kamini, i have had this in certain shops in bombay ( some drink shop near VT station)and in Ulhasnagar ( where there is a large sindhi population) but it is known by some other name - not bubble tea

Kamini said...

Anrosh, are you sure? I'd be really surprised if it is the same thing. I know it is sort of like Faluda, with the sabja seeds and vermicelli and rose syrup, maybe that's what you are thinking of?

Sampige said...

I love this tea. I love the litchi flavored version. My family thinks I am from the moon, and would you know then they mooch off my drink. I have never made it at home but I try and get a couple of drinks in every China Town I visit :).

My3

Shanthi said...

Hey kamini welcome back. cooking hmmmm.... when will i start enjoying this word in the dictionary. Raga a way to go. Please save up some so that I can get the taste of this mysterious never heard drink, in my next trip to Hyd :-). I can bring with me if I can get here all those complicated things mentioned in the post.

Sudha said...

art and a science for sure..no doubt about that here!

Le Cupcake said...

Hey Kamini,

I studied in Oregon and we had a tea place on campus that sold bubble teas. They were so yummy. And back then I also heard they're really famous in Seattle. And now here in NJ, we have an Asian tea place right down the block that sells bubble teas and they're my favorite. I so love mango and Thai flavors. I've also tried hot bubble teas but cold ones are the best. It's so much fun to hunt them bubbles with the straw.

Wonder why I never thought of making them at home. Hmmm... may be becuase it's just down the block? *wink* But I am glad you guys bought the ingredients to make it. I am sure it will be a huge hit in Hyderabadi summer.

Neha@ Allthingsbeautiful said...

Hi Kamini,

I always love your posts on cooking. This one really made my taste buds tingle and brought back memories...so I finally found a vietnamese place here and had karo bubble tea after a long long time...loved it.

So much so, I even wrote a post on this on my blog....do check it out. And thanks for bringing back memories!
-Neha

Rupa said...

hmmm..I haven't had this drink despite living in US/Canada for a very long time. Sheesh...how could I have missed it?! Faluda came to my mind too as I started reading your post, but I guess this is different in the end. Will definitely give this a try soon somewhere. As for science/art of cooking, I try to follow the recipe precisely the first time I try a new dish, but then I take notes and improvise to make it my own :)

Sound Horn Please said...

Can't believe you guys made bubble tea from scratch! K- there is an exclusive bubble tea store in Madras right opposite Eliot's beach...