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.