Still struggling with vacay blues- this time after I went for one – I am here writing about the men who cook - could - or not!!! Manav though can cook up a storm but he can also ruin a good article just by glancing at it;)
The first man in everyone’s life – a hero you look up to, emulate and respect. When my dad used to cook I would just stand and watch him enraptured by even the tiniest of his movements. The novelty of seeing him do what my mom did every single day made the food taste even better I think. He had a fixed number of things that he could cook – and I loved each and every one of them!
Egg bhurji - the staple food for any egg lover tied for time and effort – the way my dad made it is something I follow till this day. When the oil sizzled, he would put grated ginger – and when that released its fragrance, he would add the eggs beaten to a froth with the onions, coriander and green chillies. Sheer bliss! Egg mad that I am, I have it atleast once a week and the smell of the sizzling ginger takes me back to those days.
He also made a mean pulao – though the secret to his recipe was copious amounts of ghee – I’ve never attempted to cook that.
The Grandpa Effect
My maternal grandfather, Daddypapa my sister christened him and that’s what we all called him. He was well travelled and completely enamoured by the way people lived abroad. He loved his suits, hats and walking sticks. Infact, he used to called my grandma ‘Madam’ – I don’t ever recall him using her name.
Every winter he had this ritual of making tomato soup and freezing it in daily serving size. I was his apprentice and the day he would make me work in the kitchen was my favourite – cos I was his apprentice in carpentry, plumbing and electrical works too! So many afternoons I spent learning to use the tools of the trade of the week-cursing myself silently. Come the first sign of winter and being an apprentice was no longer an issue as I just loved being in that huge kitchen all steamed up from the crazy amount of soup we would make. His was the weirdest soup recipe I have ever seen in my life – I make better soups today. But there was still just something so imperfectly perfect about it that I still crave it sometimes. His soup was watery, the garlic wasn’t very finely chopped and his cream was always added at the wrong time so that it curdled slightly, he never used a mixie but boy oh boy I loved that soup he cooks! (That's Manav fiddling with the tenses)
My Best Friend’s Dad
Another best friend -my partner in crime when it came to bunking classes, eating out, dancing in the disco on a Wednesday afternoon ( it was quite the thing in Chandigarh – every Wednesday 1 to 6 we were rocking the dance floor – laugh all you want it was fun!). Her dad was an epic cook. He could make snacks like nobody’s business and when he found out his cooking was feeding 2 girls instead of one, he so sweetly increased the portion he packed for her everyday. From bread rolls to tikkis you name it, he made it better than the best chaat guy around. I have so many fond memories of bunking college and sitting in the car stuffing our faces with those awesome bites!
A College Boyfriend Cook
In my second year of college I was dating this guy who had three sisters and was quite domesticated by them – him being the youngest. Once he invited me over to his house for lunch – and I expected him to be ordering in. Imagine my surprise when he served home cooked Rajma and rice – I just assumed his sisters had made it. My jaw dropped when they proudly told me that he made the Rajma himself and had been cooking for years – he was good – really really good. I think that’s where my obsession with perfecting my Rajma started. He taught me something so interesting – if the beans had not been soaked overnight, just pre soak them in water and milk for half an hour before cooking. I thought that was a joke until I saw he actually did that and they tasted amazing!!! When I moved away to Delhi, the first time I went home for the weekend, he came to pick me up from the station and so sweetly brought a box of Rajma and rice for me – that was the last time I ever had it. I make it very well too now!
And the Man can cook, who is now my Husband
When I met H, all he could cook was scrambled eggs – but what scrambled eggs – I have never had better! Light as air, fluffy as clouds – they were simply forks full of heaven. I have known him for 15 years now and though he makes them rarely, he has never gone wrong – never have they stopped being perfect! He is blessed – and he has never cooked anything else;)
I have tried my hand at them and yes they are inconsistent when I make them – sometimes good and at others not at all! It’s a curse I think – my culinary skills.
Manav of course is the most amazing cook I know personally – he has made me eat stuff I never do – a vegetarian Thai glass noodle salad, chicken wings ( I hate them and his I can’t get enough of) – I look forward to eating more of his creations – sadly he hasn’t been paying me in food cos I’ve been playing hooky- hope this brings me back in his good graces and I get some yummy in my tummy soon! Till next time – hopefully I'll be over my travel flu by then;)