I think, therefore I write

Tag: Cooking (Page 1 of 2)

Recreating memories

By this post, you would know that my interest in cooking is fairly recent. It still is a chore for me on most days but I manage to get by knowing that I can cook up a delicious meal, when needed. Anyway, as I made my way through different dishes from amma’s culinary repertoire, trying one at a time, I realized that the newly discovered interest has a backstory after all. One that’s so obvious that I am surprised that I missed it.

I miss my mom and her cooking.

Though this has happened when I first moved out from home to my hostel, then dealing with various cuisines of PG food (ugh!) throughout my spinster life and so on. I have missed amma’s cooking earlier too but that was different. This time, with each of us locked in different cities in the pandemic, it’s been a while since mom got a chance to pamper me and my daughter I got a dose of her pampering. It’s amazing how she never gets bored with cooking and always has the energy to cook up something delicious.

Anyway, this week as I tried my hand at making Vaazhaipoo urundai (A type of falafel made from banana flower), Vaazhaithandu adai (A patty with banana stem – a variant of the first dish), paruppu dosai (My favorite dish with coconut chutney, always ready when I visit home from hostel), Mushroom curry fry, Masala dosa and many more of mom’s signature dishes, the aromas wafting through my kitchen reminded me of my childhood memories, particularly around food that I enjoyed the most as I grew up. I could just close my eyes and see amma working her way around in that dingy kitchen of the monumental house that I grew up in.

Amma in the kitchen was the norm for us. I was a pathetic daughter who didn’t help around much, I did an odd chore here or there but that was it. Yes, I do feel bad that I didn’t do more for her. I would ask her why she keeps at it and how she is not bored day after day, doing the same chore and she would reply, “You enjoy the food, right?” I couldn’t imagine the level of selflessness it took to have that attitude, even if it is for one’s own daughter.

For more than 30 years, she has never tired of the kitchen and cooking. Every time I cook something, my mind automatically compares it with amma’s. The comfort of childhood memories with amma combined with the comfort of food just makes my heart fill with content to the brim. That’s probably what made the experience better for me with time – else I was unhappy that I had to work to develop the interest unlike amma for whom it just came naturally.

Of course, there is a benefactor to all this – my daughter. She is happy that she is getting a variety of dishes as opposed to the mundane routine of rice and sambhar. I don’t think I’ll ever get over amma’s cooking, no matter how old I get. I hope my daughter retains some of these memories as nostalgia when she’s all grown up. I am surprised that she, unlike me, shows an interest in cooking and household chores at such an young age. She loves sitting in the kitchen and watching me cook. And narrating the recipe to her as I cook does make the chore less boring. Sometimes, I put on music and we do a bit of dancing jumping around as well.

So if my daughter looks back at one of these evenings and thinks of it as fondly as I think of my mom in the kitchen, I’d consider it my greatest reward.

Until later 🙂

P.S: Maybe, I should start posting some recipes. Lemme think about it.

The art of cooking

As I have mentioned too many times, I never enjoyed cooking. Up until the last couple months. It always bothered me, given that my mom is an excellent cook and has her roots deep in the art. She does not just cook the regular dishes but also has a lot of specialty dishes to adore her mantle. But surprisingly, when it came to teaching me the art, she never bothered to pressure me into it. She did attempt to pull me into the kitchen for a chore or two, like all mothers do, but she never forced me to learn cooking when I expressed no interest in her favorite chore.

So I spent my growing up years, blissfully eating all that she cooked and never bothered to think about the effort that went behind it. Then I got married. So when I had to run things in the kitchen, I stepped up and got a crash course from my mother to learn to cook the basic things. With Adit having a lot of food restrictions and not being able to eat a whole lot of varieties even if he wanted to, he had attained food nirvana. So my ability or inability to cook tasty food never mattered to him. However, my tongue was not so forgiving – growing up with mom’s cooking and being a foodie, I could never learn to like my cooking. I never thought too much about it and just settled thinking that I can’t cook.

Years went by and I was still the same. Didn’t cook too many things, just the basic ones and the taste was edible but never anything more than that. I would eat out a lot to compromise for my cravings. I actively started to believe that I cannot cook tasty food and that I don’t enjoy cooking and I told myself to be okay with that.

Then something happened. With the Covid pandemic afoot, I had to give up eating out. Plus, I was at home all the time and boredom started getting to me. As icing on the cake, Aditi is someone like me and enjoys a good, tasty meal. So there, I had my perfect opportunity and the perfect audience to set me up to try to cook better. And I am glad that I did. I started trying out a couple random recipes. When they came out surprisingly well, I was encouraged to try more. I started talking to my mom about my experiments and she was so excited that I was able to connect with her in this aspect. She kept sending simple yet tasty recipes my way and I kept trying without any inhibitions.

Over time, I realized I was cooking more dishes every day. The regular menu for Adit with our usual restrictions applied and then a dish that I cooked without any restrictions. But I was enjoying it. I was pleasantly surprised by the feeling and wanted to ride it as long as it lasted. So I started a digital cookbook just for myself and started jotting down recipes. I reached out to my mom and asked her to give me all the traditional recipes she has. Even if I had not tried them all out, I didn’t want them to get lost. I wanted to carry on the legacy and know how to cook them.

Getting the cookbook done was a humongous effort. Although, I had only used a note-taking application to categorize and write down the recipes, it was exhausting. Over the period of 2 months, I managed to get everything I wanted in the cookbook and I can add more as I try stuff out. It felt liberating to know that I can cook well when I have always felt otherwise. Like Adit said, I guess it was all in my mind. I never bothered to try further than it was required. I could have tried something for myself even if he wouldn’t eat it, but I didn’t because I never considered that possibility.

So here’s to an year which was so tough, boring, troublesome, and exhausting that it pushed me to discover something about myself. Here’s to seeing a bad year in a positive light. Hope it gets better from here.

Until later 🙂

The hobbies that I never thought I’d have

There are certain hobbies of mine which I considered to be not-my-cup-of-tea when I was back in college. I considered them to be too docile for my tom-boy nature. But as I grew up, I realized that there are better reasons to do them than to shrug them off. Kolam* is one such thing. I was absolutely disinterested in this art when I was growing up and was thinking I’d paint a permanent kolam in front of my house and be done with it, like many people in Bangalore. But things changed when there was a sudden interest in trying a few simple kolams which led my house owner to appreciate it and ask for my help during the Pongal* season. That was when I realized that my kolam was good enough for people to give a second look.

From then on, I started taking more interest. I am still no pro, the main reason being my shaky hands. I cannot draw a straight line without a scale and that has been the case ever since I remember. And the uneven ground in front of our house does not help either. So doing this is kind of out of my comfort zone but I am trying. Here are some kolams that I felt came out rather well for my attempts.

This is the Pongal kolam that started off the whole thing:

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A very amateur attempt

These are some of the daily designs I try out:

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Deepam designs always catch my eye

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One of my favorites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Curved lines are still not my forte

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A bigger challenge I took on a Sunday and I was rather pleased with the result

There are many more better works but I couldn’t capture them as I was rushing to office in the morning after spending a good deal of time in their making. Anyway, this is one hobby that I thought I’d never take up but it made me eat my words. Now I am cribbing that once I move into our flat next month, I wouldn’t have enough space to experiment bigger designs as there is only so much lobby space in front of the flat. 🙁

A couple more unconvincing hobbies are making their way up my ladder but slowly – Cooking and Crafts. Cooking is something I try to enjoy but end up not sustaining the interest. It’s like an on and off relationship. But what I do sustain is making interesting by-products out of ordinary and sometimes boring dishes. Like Dosa and Sambar is very common for us, but I make a Dosa Lasangna out of it by layering them and adding the Sambar like a sauce and then adding some toppings like coriander, nuts or tomatoes. Here’s a click, it is not very clear that it is a lasagna because the dosas were very thin and were only 3 layers. Needless to mention, my photography skills are still scraping the bottom of the pan.

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Without the toppings

I have just started taking clicks of such things I do, so I don’t have more, But I have tried this Greek Yoghurt Sandwich and I also make a variety of sandwiches with common items like mint leaves chutney and tomato chutney. I make an Indian Pulav with Carrot, Coriander, Peas and so on. I am planning to do more of this.

Again, Crafts was something I never thought I’d venture into. In fact, I thought I didn’t have a single crafty bone in my body for so long. But after seeing GB’s artworks, I was overwhelmed with desire to make something that beautiful. She also cooks so many awesome recipes that she posts on her blog and her food blog. Some dishes have made me crave that I had an ounce of her talent and interest in cooking. Anyway, on seeing her art works, I started researching on some easy to do craft works and stumbled upon paper quilling. It is relatively easy for a beginner to try and so I did. I made a couple of cards for my friends  for their birthdays and it turned out that I did have some craft sense in me.

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The first birthday card I made with quilling

As I am trying out these new hobbies, the only thing I am running short of is time. And I don’t know how I am gonna indulge in gardening too when I move to our flat. I am planning to have a few plants in the balcony for sure.  But I must say, amidst all the crafts, cooking, blogging, work, attempting new kolams and packing and planning to move into our own place, life is pretty awesome 🙂

Until later 🙂

*Kolam– It is the rangoli that we make with dots. Some call this as Rangoli, but I was taught that free hand designs and coloring was rangoli.

*Pongal- It is the festival that we celebrate for the harvest season by offering it to the Sun god.

Kitchen Conversations

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Image Source: listdose.com

Dear saucepan,
You are the best, you help me the most
Be it poha or upma or curry, you finish it even in a hurry
Not one day passes without you on fire, I salute you for that sire
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you gimme a signal when curry’s done, so that I don’t have to peek every 5 mins?”

Dear spatula,
You help me poke, while the other things soak
When I spin you fast, You spill vast
I know it’s partly my fault, but you know I can’t halt
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you cut down the spilling a little?”

Dear chotu pressure cooker,
As mom’s gift you came, you cook quite the same
I thank you for that, for each whistle you let off your hat
You let me do other dishes, while your top hisses
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you give a different signal when whatever inside you is rightly done?”

Dear motu pressure cooker,
Not for daily use I wish, but rice you cook is the main dish
You are too huge to lift, there is no other vessel to which I can shift
But when it’s the time for guests, you are nothing but the best
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you become less heavier by dieting or something?”

Dear casserole or to use your nickname hot-pack,
You hold a variety of dishes for me, preserving them as they should be
Keeping them piping hot, the dishes remaining so soft
Do try to taste what’s inside, keeping that I’m not a great cook aside
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you correct the salt, chilli levels if they are a tad wrong?”

Dear blender,
It’s only your small jar I use, but in that all ingredients fuse
We are only two, we don’t need anything bigger too
Pristine and white, you are a pretty sight,
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you develop two hands and clean yourself?”

Dear wet grinder,
I come to you once a week, but you loyally do what I seek
You take a lot of time, taking an hour to chime
Even though it’s a weekend, I need some leisure time to spend
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you finish the grinding a little faster?”

Dear scrubber,
You are a favorite pet, you wipe the cooking stage wet
You know I am a messy cook, you take me off that hook
You become dirtier by day, though I wash you everyday
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you fly like Aladdin’s magic carpet and clean as I spill?”

Dear Dosa griddle,
With much hope I poured batter on you, but you didn’t like it being new
You rebelled on washing, and went on dosa mashing
I had to exchange you with my expert mom, heard that with her you kept mum
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you become more mature so that I can take you as mine?”

To all the other vessels, spatulas, ladles, spoons and everyone else,
Don’t be mad for the generic mention, you do cut out a lot of my tension
You get fried and frozen, but in the sink definitely don’t lessen,
Cool your bottoms in the sink, but let me clean you in a wink,,
Sorry to ask you for more, but just so that I don’t go sore
“Can you clean yourselves and jump into the drying tub after cooling your bottoms a bit?”

I know the post has gotten too long. I started it as something else but this came out and I was enjoying it so much that it kept coming. There is so much more but to do justice to your patience I stop here.

Until later 🙂

P.S: I am writing so much about cooking and household stuff after marriage. Guess I had more of mom in me than I thought, hope that I make as much as a good home maker as she is.

The edibly inedible

Today’s the first day I ever cooked with absolutely no supervision, with none to ask the ways, the measurements or whatsoever silly doubts I had.  There have been times when I have cooked with my friend(s), but we had each other to back on and it was always the maggi-scrambled eggs-tadkawaali curd rice-mash potato version which can hardly be called cooking. Today’s the first solo. For the first time in my life, I got what my mom meant by “You can’t learn cooking by writing down recipes and having theoretical knowledge, only practice will teach you.” I used to shrug it off saying that I will cook when it’s necessary and that I will write all her recipes down and follow it to the word. What can go wrong when I follow everything  as she says? How naïve was I!

I opted for the simplest of dishes for the first day – rava upma for breakfast and rice, sambar and a beans curry for lunch. I started out at 6.30 and when the clock struck 7.30, I was staring at 3 dishes with a pout on my face. The upma was glaring at me dryly for not adding enough oil, while the beans curry was having a sour look for adding a bit too much salt and the sambar was laughing at me since I didn’t know if it was spicier than I intended or not. I wouldn’t say they were inedible but for a foodie like me, they seemed like the end of the world.

Well, hubby dearest was the only tester available and I called him to check if it was at least agreeable to his stomach if not for his taste buds. Being a very accommodating person when it comes to food, he granted a pass to everything (he gives a pass to any home-made food as long as they are not spicy) while my taste buds gave everything a fail. Cooking is no joke without practice, fellas! Not at all! I can’t express how much I miss mom and her expert cooking. What she does in the kitchen is pure magic and here I am, like a muggle.

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