People always talk about how their cooking adventure resulted in their best recipes, what they learnt and how awesome their food turns out to be. I’ve always wondered is that really what goes down every time they enter the kitchen- do they have the Midas touch when it comes to food? ‘Cos let me tell you, I am a decent cook but boy oh boy have I had my share of disasters! At 20 I didn’t even know how to make maggi – though I made a mean masar ki dal. So here's a tale of my crazy journey in the kitchen – Google free, unsupervised and oh so wild!
The Joys of Eating Out
For as far as I remember, the best thing about a cooking adventure is - eating out! Be it a fancy restaurant or a roadside dhaba, the whole mystery of the food being cooked, the freedom to eat whatever I wished and of course the fact that the food aromas hit you only when you are in the restaurant versus when you have been sniffing it the entire while it was cooking at home was what made me live to eat out.
At eight, I remember trying to sell my parents the idea that we should just shut down our kitchen and eat out every night. No need to wash up or clean, to stand and cook when you don’t feel like it and the advantage of eating whatever wherever – ah! the freedom. They laughed at me, what else.
The Cooking Adventure of Crazy Cream
My early trysts with Malai are the kind of gastronomical disasters that would put one off India food for life – not me though.
I was a very literal child, so at 14 when I wanted to eat Malai Kofta (I had only had the super boring lauki ones at home)I casually asked my mom how are the Koftas made. Armed with the potatoes and bread crumbs what I attempted to cook that day still lives on in our memories as an epic fail. I actually had the balls to try and attempt to stuff heavy cream in the potato crust and deep fry it – twice! Everything went splat both times and I couldn’t figure out why for the life of me. My mom of course laughed and called me the best entertainment she had had in years after which she explained that I need to stop being so literal – and dumb!
Another time – at the same age- I had a craving for the gravy they serve in Butter Chicken. Being a sneaky brat as you can make out, I casually asked my mom how they make it. She told me these things were tastier cause they use a lot of cream – that’s it! Off I went to the kitchen the next day for my new disaster – I made a gravy out of heavy cream and tomatoes (I figured that out on my own, to be honest the colour of the Butter Chicken tipped me off) and seasoning. The salt as usual was more – but that was the least of my problems. I had to eat an entire bowl of salty tomato flavoured cream (I was hungry and my ego wouldn’t allow me to throw it) – well that was the last time I ever cooked anything with cream in it for quite a while!
A Master Chef at Heart
As I grew I developed a passion for cooking the way restaurants do – I would chase up every source (Google was not even a dream back then) and hound anyone I knew who was from the food industry to give tips on what happens behind the scenes at restaurants. From my Mom's habit of grating onions and tomatoes (such a thankless job) I changed the way gravies were prepped for after picking whatever worked for me from each and everyone of my sources.
My real enemy though was salt – oh man! I would always screw that up – it would never be enough and then half a pinch more and it would taste like it had been drenched in salt - the worst part of any cooking adventure.
The Discovery of Okra Raita
The funniest cooking adventure was when I would make bhindi – every bloody time the salt would go wonky on me. One day I figured a way out – the salt got too much so I put the bhindi in whipped curd and presented it proudly to my Mom. The poor woman had to eat that every alternate week for three years at which point I moved out of home.
And now, I go to fancy restaurants and there it is on the menu ‘Chef's special Okra Raita – crispy okra served with delicately spiced whipped yogurt – INR 300.’ Well, bitches I invented that shit and fed it to my Mom for free! So was I the genius or is the chef a poor ‘over salter’ like me? Guess we'll never know now, will we-because I ain't paying money to eat that – I’m not stupid, all evidence to the contrary.
There’s more disasters – but you will have to wait for the next installment of my cooking adventure– and the crazy maggi story will be in it, I promise!
About Chetna: A cooking enthusiast, If she hasn't laughed, it's a moment wasted. Constantly changing, she defies any attempt to describe her. Sarcastic, witty and a 'only water or alcohol' woman, she can find something humorous in everything.
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