Experiments in grilling indoors

This was my first “winter” in this rental living on my own. You have to live a full calendar year to know what works for you in a house and what doesn’t. Last December, it started getting chilly with temperatures inside the house hovering around 20 degree Celsius. This isn’t per say cold in other parts of the world but in tropical countries, it is.

I live on the ground floor, shielded from direct sunlight. The direct sun light I receive is on the front side of the house for about ~5 hours every day. My kitchen and living room get no direct sun light just day light. I dry my clothing indoors as outside is too dusty due to all construction work. This meant that my clothes would take more than 2 days to dry inside the house where I won’t be turning on the fan nor there is direct sunlight or cross ventilation.

I cook three meals a day. Simply because I love having the freedom to experiment and eat when I want. Cooking involves every now and then dipping your hands in running water. Because we have no dedicated hot water taps, all the frequent hand washing left my fingers cold and numb even.

This apartment has neat vitrified tiled flooring too, so come December-January I winced every time I had to step on the floor. It was too cold. I have a thermostat in the house in the house, that always read 21 degree celcius.

Something had to be done.

Do you feel the heat?

I bought this room heater. This room heater could also run without the heating part and so I figured would serve as a fan in summers, should I need one.

It was bliss at first. My (senior, coastal-town-weather-adjusted) parents who came to stay over for a week too approved of it. It was not long before I got completely addicted to it. I ran it all day, all night. I must say sitting in front of the heater after a bath is mmm-nice!.

Next month my electricity bill was 1608 INR. I usually get ~380 INR even with induction cooktop usage three times a day.

Out of thin air

After that bill, I was too caught up with some personal affairs so I was shuttling between hometown and wasn’t around in my apartment to feel the chill. Still the days I was, it was almost crippling to be cold and study. I often drank peppermint tea, practised a few suryanamaskars, gritted my teeth and got on with life.

After a week or so of this, I thought again…

Brain: isn’t it cheap to just have an open fire like the people who live in temp housings do?
Me: But I have a open fire inside the house it would just make the walls black with soot. Would be messy too I think. Not viable.
Brain: hmm let’s see what else creates warmth? Cooking! But you cook on induction. What about baking? That pressure cooker you have is good but not like as capable as a gas oven/convention oven for heating up a space. Gah
Me: Hey! What about grilling? Simmering charcoal? I have a chimney in the kitchen!!
Brain: Hit amazon, now!

And so I bought:

Prestige grill, Weber Charcoal briquettes and Weber Lighter blocks

I’ve always liked grilled veggies and chicken but haven’t had the chance to make’em on my own well for the lack of open flame/convection oven. Now I could!

Light my fire baby!

I learnt to appreciate how hard it was to make fire when I had to get the charcoal going. I made the mistake of lighting the “lighter blocks” whole and didn’t place the briquettes adequately. This created a lot of smoke inside the house. At this point, I gave up and whined about my failure to a friend.

About 20 minutes after the smoke disappated (thanks to my chimney), I saw the briquettes simmering nicely!! Dang, if I had only bought veggies in anticipation of success. I had an empty fridge :( But I couldn’t let my coals go to waste, so I quickly sliced up some paneer with chilli sauce + tomato sauce + tamarind marinade. Strung the coated paneer and few slices of onion on the sticks, put my pot up and …

Then I took a nice shower. It timed perfectly because pot was nice and hot when I came back to the kitchen and the paneer roasted right for turning over. So I drank some good peppermint tea, warmed my hands over the grill.

The briquettes once lighted are although low smoke, still having no windows open can make the house a bit stuffy and give you a headache due to the excess carbon dioxide. Next time, I would do the lighting initiation outside my door and then bring the pan in once the briquettes are burning well. This probably is a hassle and I don’t know a way around it just yet.

The briquettes simmer burn well for a good 5 hours before they die out and once they are done, they go right into my compost bin. This also solved my problem of having to buy aerobic compost bricks for my compost bin :D

I wish…

This would make a great oven indoors me thinks. If only Prestige made a covering pan with handle.

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