Thursday, March 6, 2008

What's cooking, Goodlooking?

Cooking is an art. With practice and imagination, we can create some delicious gourmet. As a kid I would never enter the kitchen, except to get goodies to munch on. As I grew up, my help to my mom was limited to cutting vegetables and making rotis sometimes. To feed myself, incase of emergencies, I knew how to make a toast, tea and maggi.

In high school, while some of my friends were learning how to prepare the full course meal, I was getting my hands dirty on trying to learn volleyball. Year later when I was in college, we were in a situation when me, my brother and a cousin had to be home by ourselves for 5 days. My parents and uncle and aunt had to be away to attend an important family occasion. Since we were teenagers and loved such freedom, we assured them we would be fine and asked them to go ahead with their plans. There was only one glitch, I and my cousin had exams during those days and also, we did not know how to cook. My brother on the other hand, was just bothered about India's outcomes on the World Cup cricket qualifying match. Also, our parents were returning the next day our exams were getting over, so we did not have much time for any fun. Anyways, we planned to use the best of what was given.

For the first few days, we managed on whatever mom had cooked and bread. The day mine and my cousin's exam got over was the day that India lost to SriLanka in the World cup qualifying match. My brother, due to the gripping match, had gobbled up all the eatables at home. When I reached home famished, the only bottles not emptied were the ones containing pulses and spices. With some courage, I started peeling potatoes to make a sabzi. As the food started smelling nice, I got ambitious and made sambar. I finished just as my cousin entered home, tired and starved. We set the table and were eager to try out the dishes. With the first taste of the morsel, which also happened to be the last one, we realized that even food can be deceptive. Even though it smelled good, it tasted horrible as the spices proportions were all mixed up. We finally had a dinner in a nearby restaurant and that was the end of my kitchen ventures for a long time.

Few weeks before I was to get married, I had crash course on cooking from my mom. I would stand next to her and nod on all her instructions as she would narrate the proportions of spices to be added, how and when. Everything seemed pretty straight forward at that time and I could not understand why people used to make fuss about good cooking.

Months later, I was here in NJ at our apartment staring at the closet filled with bottles of spices and pulses. Onions and tomatoes were lying on the countertop to be cut. This was the first time I was preparing food for H and his friend, who was coming home with his wife. I felt the same fear pang I used to feel on the days of practical exams. During the whole semester in lab practical, we could do the experiment with help of the teacher or the lab assistant. Exam days would be lonely and scary. At that moment, I missed my mom more than ever. Anyways, I put up a brave face and went ahead. Any art needs lot of time and patience. It was especially true on that day. To prepare a simple meal of pulao, puri and chole, I took 7 hours to complete!

Times have changed. I take much less time and hopefully the taste has also changed, err.. for better.

13 comments:

Archana Bahuguna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archana Bahuguna said...

Hey you cook pretty nice ... I think all of us have gone through that one time or another. :-)

Your blog reminds me of the first time (maybe 10 years ago now) I tried to make something of the sort of "Gobhi Musallam" (ya, I was ambitious)"without Mom's help". Ha Ha! I think I can write a blog on that one now :-D!

Prats said...

We have all gone through this and when we think back on it now, it really makes me smile with such fond memories...
I had made bisibele bath, without knowing what went in where, when and how....and all that even before I knew to cook sambhar or rasam..

SK said...

Hahah ditto same here :--)
My parents have not had anything cooked by me yet, so they dont believe when DH says I cook well :--D

Madhu said...

:) your blog reminded me of the first time i cooked, when my parents were not there...i had put so much of water in rice that..it was floating...:) and then i gave up...my brother tried then, and his was definitely better than mine.

Kavitha said...

Hey Nice write up!

I love cooking and I thought cooking was all about making gobi manchuri on a lazy saturday or making samosas for a cousin's party on a summer evening.

I got the full picture only when I started cooking on a day to day basis. I could not remember which container had which masala ;)and had to run to the phone to call amma every now and then!!!

After 6 years of concentrated efforts though I am a good cook :)

--xh-- said...

yeah - cooking is an art, and so is appreciating fine food. I am sure all those who love to cook have came through same journy - experiments that backfired and lots of sweet moments of triumph when at last we made 'that' dish :-D One day i too will blog about my cooking in length.. :-D

Ziah said...

Hehehe... now I'm dropping into your place for a meal just for the before-after evaluation:) By the way, the first time I made rotis, they were hexagonal and burnt... and I was 12. :)

Joy said...

Arc: Gobhi Musalla? Why don't you cook that for me :) :)

Prats: They all make good memories.

SK: Parents have seen us in a different light, atleast in terms of cooking.

Madhu: :) :)

Kavitha: Cool. So what's for dinner?

XH: I think cooking as a guy would be different right? Even if you cook a disaster, you would be credited to the fact that you cooked.

Ziah: Pls be my guest. I like the hexagonal shape. My kid, does not want round rotis anymore. She wants square and crescent!

Gowri Krishnan said...

heh heh.. had to comment on this one.. i still remember K's brag about "teaching" us how to cook sambar. and i think his real contribution was limited to stirring every dish in sight! this really brought back good memories :)

Thinking aloud said...

:)...

the tensions of cooking!!! nice reading...J

Joy said...

Gowri: So glad to have you here.:) Yup, good old days!

TA: :) We have all experienced it in someway or the other :)

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Yes, this is a perfect post for Weekend Wordsmith! Thanks for sharing it. I have now posted your link:

http://weekendwordsmith.blogspot.com/2008/04/whats-on-menu.html