Cooking Special -An Ode to the best chef in my life
Okay, so that’s a known fact that I could not getaway with one very significant genes of my mother. I am nowhere close when it comes to her artistry and attributes in the kitchen. She is exceptionally impressive and passionate for good food and cooking. Like most of the mothers, she has great stamina and creative energy when it comes to designing menus for family, friends and guests. For last thirty years of which I have memories, everyday meals have not been just anything but well planned assortments. It is not as if my Dad and I fall in the category of fussy nerds, in fact Mum is more of a disciplinarian and will not have it any other way. Kitchen is her haven and she thoroughly enjoys cooking, alone. Mind it, alone! This is one of the reasons why I was never allowed in the kitchen to mess up. I know none of her secrets. And now, you know why my lockdown is not full of ‘exciting and delicious’ dishes as yours. But I am definitely cooking and learning.
3 Big Moments and 3 Saviors
Life is appetizingly beautiful (everyday) when you have a great cook in your life and you don’t have to fret over “What to cook next?”. I did have my fair share of realizations with three big moments (changes) of my life. First, when I knocked the doors of engineering college and hostel life. Second, when I got married and third when I started travelling the world. The 4 years of hostel life made me see home-cooked food in a completely different light. I still remember how I would look forward to the semester breaks to binge on “ghar ka khaana”. Marriage brought bigger lessons. I literally knew nothing about cooking but it also gave me three saviors. My father-in-law used to make some great curries but we lost him early, my mum-in-law never treated me as a new cook in the house (she still does most of the cooking on her own) and my man is a born pro in handling situations where I fail. So basically, all the three never made me realize the truth that I suck in the kitchen. My food is taken care lovingly. Its just that they have a Punjabi style of cooking and I have not been able to break away from my “UP type of food” shackles. Last but not the least, in the last few years, my travels have made me realize how much I miss the kind of food I have grown up eating. I am always open to experimenting new food but the moment I am back at Delhi airport, my heart knows where to go next. Its always my mum’s kitchen.
Its not that I have never cooked or I don’t enter the kitchen. Of course, I do make use of it occasionally. In this age of youtube videos, Instagram and Facebook where I am friends with more than a bunch of food bloggers, how can I not know how to cook. Its just that I have never bothered to explore much or find out about the useful basics, the unsaid rules, the hidden ingredients, the resourceful ways of using some of the items, the craft of inventing dishes and the various styles of cooking. Maybe, now is the time to develop that interest.
Trust me, this is the longest period that I have been engaged in the kitchen, on a daily basis. I thought I had had enough of my realizations with respect to food and cooking but looks like 4th big moment of my life is here – THE LOCKDOWN! This one really wants me to go beyond the realization and do something about my cooking. The circumstances have been such that I am in Vijayawada, my mum-in-law is in Faridabad and my parents are in Noida. As I mentioned earlier, my husband is a sweet chap. He never complains. He actually does more than I do but I really want to learn cooking for myself and for everyone who has made this journey delicious, so far.
Some things might just be everyday for you but they are not for me. My first hand-made chappatis (because we don’t have rolling pin and circular base here) or the complete meal of lentils-rice and vegetables are my little successes. That fruit ice cream and jar of fresh pickles were also first attempt.
You may also read more about “Quarantine cooking” by my friend Divsi here – Cooking in the times of Quarantine!