By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram
For a very long time now, the day a girl comes to this world, she’s born not with a silver spoon in her mouth, rather a silver ladle in her hand!! And would I be far from it?!?
I grew up watching my mother conjure up delicious and mouth-watering dishes in the kitchen. I did notice that the man of the house (my father, that is) stayed away from the kitchen. The curiosity in me was piqued as I wondered why men basked in blissful ignorance and weren’t as kitchen savvy as the women. At school, my sexist idea of “Women Only” in the kitchen changed, when my male classmates proudly displayed their kitchen cuts and bruises. In today’s age, the cooking profession is dominated by that category of homo-sapiens who bear the Y chromosome.
When I was in college, being a “bad cook” would have been princely. Growing up, I didn’t have to worry about peeling potatoes or playing with oil. I had my mother to do it all. I couldn’t cook anything—I even burnt water!! Then my mother sat me down and reasoned with me that to be a wonder girl of sorts, I should learn to cook.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Attracting men through your culinary skills have proven to have a success rate greater than that through your intellect. Cooking is art and science rolled into one. It helps you build skills, be imaginative, and is a stress buster. At a marriageable age, spurred on by her advice, I decided to explore the art of cooking.
And here’s my first date in the kitchen, rather with the kitchen!!!
Our day usually kick starts with a cup of coffee. An engineer that I am, my mother handed me the “procedure” to prepare coffee. Boil milk – check; Measure exact amount of decoction into cup – check; Add sugar – err?!? And that’s my first goof up and it’s an obvious guess. Sugar and salt should never be kept together – NEVER! The expression on my parents face in the morning as they sipped coffee laced with salt – priceless!
A three course meal that maketh a typical Indian meal involves using a variety of pulses. Phew! It’s easier identifying a salt in the chemistry lab rather than identifying the right pulse for the right meal!!! What a harrowing time I had!! The number of times I had to abandon ship and start over again, I used up the entire ration in the kitchen.
And the Indian bread! Gosh, to get the rotis in a perfect circle can be a humungous task. Mine resembled the continents on the world map!!! Who cares about the shape as long as they were edible!
You know what happens to vegetables when they’ve cooked too much? They turn to mush. And that’s exactly what happened to my ladies finger curry! Here’s a small piece of advice – wash the ladies finger before cutting them rather than washing them after the cut!
You may have heard it a million times, but do you practice it? Do you taste your food as you cook it? If you don’t, you really should start. Recipes aren’t always accurate and can often times lead you astray. Tasting your food as you cook means the difference of a mediocre meal or a delicious one.
In the latter half of the day, my mother asked me to curdle the milk. While I knew that adding curds to milk will result in fermentation, I did not know the proportion and hence added the whole lot of curds to the milk and when I innocently asked my mother what I should do with the balance curds as the vessel was filled to the brim , my mother’s temper rose sky high!!!
Every cook, being human, errs, bungles, botches, and screws up in the kitchen once in a while, but in my case, the whole date was a disaster! For your day to go alright, guess it helps waking up on the right side of the bed *chuckle*.
And years down the lane, with a sizeable portion of hours spent inside the kitchen, I’m definitely making great inroads to the heart of my man through his stomach!