Gastronomically yours

I could write a post on Gujarat but I don’t feel like it. That’s not to say that the trip was uneventful but doing another trip related post isn’t exciting me too much right now. Plus that particular one has the potential of being rant-y in nature. And ever since I was bumped off IHM’s list (for very obvious reasons) I have lost the will to write long, whiney /rant-y  posts. So its not gonna be Gujarat, that’s for sure. What is it gonna be then? I don’t quite know. Something pointless and inane. Like the weather. Or the greeting cards on my soft board. Or my culinary skills..  Ummm…let’s see…

I think I am gonna pick the last option on my list. If nothing else, it will ensure that this post is short.< Now is the time when you heave a sigh of relief>. Let’s get a few things straight before I march into a discussion on my culinary skills. When I say culinary skills, I am specifically talking about the ability to cook regular food. Baking doesn’t count (not that  I am an expert of any kind in that field either) Regular food is the kind you eat at home- simple and deeply satisfying. And that’s basically the kind of food I can’t make. Give me a book with complicated instruction under the “Method” section and precisely measured ingredients and I will follow it to a t and produce satisfying results. Ask me to cook just like that and we have ourselves a serious problem. Indian food is all about the masalas . “Open the masala box and throw in the ingredients that appeal to you” is what all good cooks will tell you. Well I have tried that- opened the round stainless steel box and stared mindlessly at the ingredients for 30 seconds straight. I am sorry, no ingredient speaks to me. None what so ever. Which is quite sad really because at least half of my family cooks that way and produces fabulous results. That’s my mother’s side of the family, in case you are wondering. The father’s side is the science loving, uninspiring, ration kind that measures accurately and follows the exact same recipes for generations. Yes, that’s what they do, even for something as simple as mutter paneer that can lend itself to a thousand variations. It makes the food quite disgustingly predictable in taste, colour and texture, but it comes with a precious guarantee- that of the end product not flopping.  Unimaginative but safe. The mother’s side is where you will always get great tasting food but no recipes. No one has any fixed recipe for anything, you see. They just follow the instinct they are all blessed with and pick any combination of masalas and any group of ingredients for the tadka and voila!you have yourself a houseful of heavenly aroma and lip smacking, good  food.

I tend to take after my father’s side when it comes to daily cooking. I like clear cut recipes that tell you what you need along with defined quantities. And it’s not like I am the unimaginative cook because I want to be that way. I would love to be able to walk into the kitchen in the morning, use my magnificent imagination and whip up a delicious meal. I mean, who wouldn’t? But whenever I’ve tried to do that, I have failed. Miserably. Embarrassingly. I attribute the failure to three primary reasons-a-I have no sense of how much of which ingredient to use. If proportions aren’t given in the metric system- 10 gms of ghee and the like, I am lost. Even things like ½ C of onion don’t make too much sense. Exactly how much is a cup? What if your cup is larger than mine? Wouldn’t that make the major difference in the final quantity of the food prepared? Working by andaz simply doesn’t work in my case.(don’t tell me it  a cup is a cup and it doesn’t matter how large or small it is as long as you maintain the same cup for the entire recipe. I tried that and in spite of it had 3 batches of bread turning out terribly) b- Genes count for something, don’t they? I think my father’s side of the family has stronger “cooking style” genes.  While you will find some variations in the way people in the mother’s family cook,  there are absoolutely no variations in the way the father’s  family prepares food. Makes them sound pretty stuck up on methods and god awful boring but thats the sad truth. And thats how strong the genes in that part of the family are. Since genes count for a lot,  I believe I  am not really responsible for the way my food turns out( If you want one word for it, it would be bland). My genes are, and I cant do a thing about it. I love the way I can blame anything I dont like on my genes. c- I dont like monitoring anything- sabzis included. And you know what happens when we leave a vegetable to cook on the stove and forget to occassionally stir it.  Ask me to periodically look into cooking vessels and stir things around and I will carry an expression that will tell you how un amused I am with  the idea. I find it infinitely easier to pop things in the oven, set the timer and forget about them.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and that’s precisely why I aspire to cook like the mother’s family. Churn out food with enticing aroma that makes the first floor guys wonder whats for dinner,  create my very own recipes, twist old recipes around to make them more exciting- that kind of thing. I believe the day I will learn to cook the imaginative, fabulous, creative way, will be the day I will officially arrive. At least in the kitchen. There are a hundred other places where I need to arrive as well, but we’ll take it one at a time, ok? Anyway,  the arrival in the kitchen  hasn’t happened as yet.. but I am trying. In the meanwhile I will have to be content cooking from books that say “Take 100 gms of roughly chopped ,blanched tomatoes along with 50 gms of finely chopped onions 25.5 gms of minced garlic.”

Just out of curiosity, tell me, how do you cook?

PS: I cant believe I actually wrote 850 words on something as silly as cooking styles. This must be a record of sorts.

29 thoughts on “Gastronomically yours

  1. Your mood is nuts… and so true it sounds…. he he he…. innnit !!????

    its not a mood, my friend, its a state. a constant state.


    However… i cook like your mom’s side…. i love adding more and more masala’s… and making newer and newer variations of the same item… i like to call myself a naturally gifted coook !!!! 😉

    ahh well, some lucky ppl are born with those abilities.

    1. I haven’t read a SINGLE cooking post on his blog… CAN HE REALLY COOK???

      lol.. u know that though crossed my mind when i read the comment but i chose to keep quiet about it.. thanks for bringing it out in the open…do u wanna answer that hitchwriter?

      1. what you havent read my cooking expeditions ?????????

        that is an ilzaam… now i ll have to file for defamation… be ready to pay with mutton biryanis…. !!!

        baap re.. u tk things verrry seriously..

        here are the links…

        now now …. eat your words…. !!!!!!!!!!!! seriously…..

        but where are the recipes?? we wanna see them!!

        the cook in me is hurt… sniff sniff

        * offers hanky n pats back comfortingly*

  2. Mandira I learnt cooking on my own, through recipe books and from friends and even from dear husband – after getting married. But still I can never follow recipes (except the first time) I make crazy innovations and crazier fiascoes 😉

    im so glad to hear u make fiascos too… i thot i was the only one whose”innovations” flopped flat on their face..

    But I like my own cooking it’s healthier and very light and to my husband and me – very tasty. My kids are unpredictable, they hate daily meals, they prefer, fried, oily, junk food … the unhealthier it is the better they love it 🙂
    But I have hope when they come back from camps and all they say they are sick of ‘outside’ food.

    hehe.. outside food is sooo much fun… its totally unhealthy and therefore fun! but there is a limit to how much outside food i can eat after a point it gets too much and then i am quite happy to eat my lauki n roti!

    And I hate any recipes with more than two steps in cooking.
    yeah? then u are like a guide to quick n easy cooking… that has its uses too…especially if you want to cook after a long day at work..

  3. I am totally like you when it comes to ‘andaz cooking ‘:) Just can’t work it out.. Just made a total mess of a supposedly yummy stuffed Bhindi – thanks to all this andaz stuff:) I really need cookbooks/recipe websites which give totally precise instructions:) Guess that what I like about baking – its all about measuring and blending/whisking – mostly:) And thats the reason I think, I’ve become a better cook ever since the internet has come in:)

    im so glad i found you!! n yes, baking seems so much easier… the blog world with its hazar food blogs is a real help..god know i refer to them often enuf

  4. I learned cooking by trial and error and am a big cookbook fan. I collect and gift them. I do add my variations though depending on what works for the family and which flavor tastes suits my taste buds.

    i collect cookbooks too!!i dnt use them as often as i buy them tho!:P

    Baking is when I absolutely copy cookbook because even the slightest variation makes the whole attempt flop 😦 and I am no expert in baking.
    im not an expert either… but tell me, do u find baking easier than regular cooking?

  5. i learned cooking my observing my mom … actually i’m still learning…every time i cook something i always call my mom and as for the recipe (she doesn’t tell me how much onion, how much salt etc etc to add) she just tells me the process..and trust me when u just add stuff without thinking too much…you will gradually learn that it turns out not too bad!

    like that aa? hmmm.. may be i shud let go n just keep trying to cook with no rules.. may b i will learn…

  6. LOL….I started off with your dad family style and now ended up with your mom’s family style.You’ll get there!

    so u r telling me there is hope?? 🙂

    You wouldnt believe I would have to see the exact process before I cooked anything. Thats the reason for the pressure cooker cake. My friend tried to give me the recipe when I pestered her….which I refused, till she came home and showed me exactly how its prepared 🙂
    can i come over? u can give me live demos of all the lovely things u make then…

    I know some people can taste something and know what ingredients are there….I hope I can do that someday 🙂
    i can guess the ingredients often… but cant figure out how much of what went in n how it was cooked..

  7. I can’t cook with measurements…

    just the opposite! I add in ingredients based on my mood!! 😀

    Reading a recipe from a cook book and cooking is something I just can’t do…
    I will ask my mom for teh same recipe and she gives it to me exactly how I want it!!

    *doesn’t make much sense, does it?*

  8. I alternate between the two. If its something like dal/ subzi type, I just use the ‘andaze se’ method but if it is something a little complicated like biryani or some western/ thai dish, I follow the cookbook. However when the dish does not quite turn out right sometimes, I add a little bit of this and that and come up with my own thing:)
    I am a typical Gemini even in my cooking methods 🙂

    oh btw im gemini too.. partly at least…

  9. it is uncanny….the similarities….henceforth, i will point out only in case of dissimilarities 😀

    lol.. good idea..

    i am a flop when it comes to andaz in cooking… my mom sprinkles away from the masala dabba, while i stare and adjust that bit of turmeric till the cows come home 😐

    lol… 😀

    baking is our respite mandy!!!! but since homey said she started off like that, then we do have hope!!!
    baking is toooootally my respite.. no doubt there..

    meanwhile, do u know how many times i have visited Baking Buddies to see that caramel custard???????????

    it looks gooooood na? i love that pic myself..

  10. I LOVE THE NEW BLOG LOOK!!!! btw, i was clicking roopsie’s blog since two days n wondering why is ur blog opening instead!!! 😛
    stressed Crafty Shines!

    lol.. u are stressed… tk a day off.. seriously..

    1. rofl *hugggggz* girl my darlin, cmere, we need to de-stress each other. 🙂

      actually i should come there instead.

      here, we got swine flu. no cool. 😦

      lol.. true true.. u come to bbay roop..n meet both crafty and me..

  11. I know very little about cooking and I know squat about baking 😦
    could kill you with my baking skills 😀

    no no, noone can kill with baking… tell me honestly.. have u really tried it? like seriously tried it?

    I am on my dad’s side of the family and dont see any hope of arriving on mom’s side 😀

    but hope makes the world go round so will keep hoping…

    loved the post 🙂 you have a way with words and with that subtle humour:)

    you think? you are pretty darn good with word urself girl…:D

  12. if u churn food like u churn words, i bet it’s scrumptious any which way! 😀


    i am like u, p’s like ur mommy family. 😀

    so u mean to say P cooks better?

  13. Great post, Mandira! If you can cook as well as you write, I’m sure the end results are delicious, whichever method you use! 🙂

    lol.. how i wish manju, how i wish…

  14. my cooking is totally on my marzi 🙂 i do what i want lol

    ok thats cool.. but are the results always good?

    and lovely header mandira
    thankee. its a pic from SL.

    and hugs may u get over that mood soon

  15. No seriously…start off with the exact measurement type cooking and if you are anything like me…pretty soon you’ll get bored of measuring everything 🙂

    ya.. thats a real possibility…

    Then starts the fun part of doing everything andaaz se. By then you’ll know how much jeera,haldi,mirchi powder you like. You are most welcome to my place to see live demos ….we can have a party everyday! Me cooking and you baking 😉

    DEAL!!! im taking the next flight…prepare urself for uninvited guests!:P

  16. Nice header, firstly…

    Second! I like the spontaneity of the post. Just… Random kinds!

    i thot all posts here were random!!

    Fun read! I don’t have any opinions on cooking though! 😛

    how come? u must hv tried ur hand at it once or twice? no?

  17. mandy, i’m alive!!!! hahahahaha, logged on to my WP acct to find all ur comments!!! was telling colleagues that in case i go missing, u wud initiate search party much faster than them….they didn’t get the joke…silly dimwits 😐 whatever

    hahaha.. why are most colleagues dodos? is it like a universal law? thou shall have dimwit colleagues? always

    i love u! 😀

    im not saying anything to that.. dont want u to get carried away n propose marriage to me! imagine wat wud happen to poor roopie then!!rofl

  18. I learnt to cook by trial and error. I look up new recipes on the web and change them to suit my family’s health needs and the ingredients I have on hand. I’m not a stickler for measurements – I usually eyeball and the quantities and go with my gut feel! 🙂

    herez an imp questions-do all the trials work?:P

  19. hello….
    where are you?
    no posts in a looooong time?

    hope everything’s ok at your part of the world…


    hellos to you too! i just published!

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