Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Cooking up a storm!

I always wondered how people came about using recipes? We ask, 'Who did people ask before Google?' I am thinking (didi is thinking) 'What did people refer to before Recipes came about?'
A simple solution is written down on our physics and chemistry books. One word which sums up everything about cooking: Experiment. As a young teenager, I was awed by the simplicity of the process of cooking (because the finished products were always god-like for me) and yet I was hesitant to get my hands into it. Growing up I have had the chance to live alone, eat alone and as a result experiment cooking alone. I always knew that if there is no one to critique my cooking, I can enjoy the process as much as I want. Hence, the experimentation started.
I never knew my observation powers were so good. I saw my mother and maids painstakingly turn flour into dough, carefully frying besan mixes into golden brown delicacies, patiently waiting for vegetables to cook so that they could add the masalas and lastly saw the accuracy with which they cut their vegetables. My mother taught me a few dishes, but those were forgotten even before the pans were washed!
With all that hidden knowledge and hidden talent (referring to Johari and making an entry into my last box) I set out one day into the kitchen in Manipal. Hungry and tired I looked for cooked food in the fridge but couldn't find any. This happened a lot of times and then finally one day I resolved to cook something and at least see what it feels like.
Fast forward through the successful and failed attempts to cook rice, macaroni and once even maggi. Fast forwarding through the realization that I knew how to make dough, knead it and make round rotis out it; stuffed parathas and break pakoras; and delicious omelettes and poached eggs.
Fast forward to present day. Today I had a lot of free time and the whole day to do my work. I thought, lets make something nice for breakfast. After throwing out some expired food packets I saw Penne and Fusili sitting quietly in their packets. I picked up the Penne and put it to boil. I spent the next half an hour cutting vegetables into long thin(nish) pieces. I didn't take half an hour because I am slow,  but because I took one vegetable after another and kept adding it. Surprisingly, it took half an hour for the Penne to boil and by then I was ready with my chopped vegetables.
The problem I faced was that I had more vegetables than my Penne. I dashed back and picked up the Fusili. Surprising me again, the Fusili boiled in 10 minutes and I was ready to make my dish.
Now if you ask me the recipe I will have none. I experimented like a scientist (engineering skills must also have helped here) and added one thing after another. The sequence simply put could be as follows:

  1. Olive Oil
  2. Oregano
  3. Carrots and Beans
  4. Onions
  5. Bell Peppers
  6. Salt, Pepper and Chilli Flakes
  7. Red Pasta Sauce (Hello Weikfield!)
  8. Penne and Fusili Mixed
  9. One small bowl boiled water
  10. Love

The proportions were also based on intuition and not practice or learning. I remember my chemistry teacher telling me once that never taste your food while you cook it. You are insulting your capability and the god of fire because you don't trust either of them to do a good job at the food. This worked today and when I tasted it, I was exhilarated! Spicy non-creamy pasta with loads of vegetables was the best breakfast I had had for some time now. For once I wasn't missing mom's food because I managed to replicate it here in a corner of Pune! (I am not boasting unnecessarily. Abhishek ate it and said it was crispy, the right amount of spicy and very good. I got proof!)
I now have the confidence that I will not stay hungry (or foolish) in Pune or ever in future. I might not cook up a storm, but magic for sure!

I am troubled by who I was and who I want to be, but I am untroubled about who I am now.

No comments:

Post a Comment