If i can cook…so can you!

I love cooking and off late, cooking loves me right back. But this was not always the case. As I stir a big pot of sweet corn chicken soup I think back to my first cooking attempt and cringe. In all honesty, i have to admit that my mum has a constant toothache from having ground her teeth so much at me and all my fabulous kitchen disasters! Despite all the setbacks, the cheerleader in me kept saying rah-rah-raise hell in the kitchen!

I’ve managed to make maggie magically stick (and )permanently to a pan, coated the entire stove top with fresh, frothy boiled over milk, heated a curry till all that was left was charcoal and the piece’ de resistance? Pulling the whistle off a fully loaded pressure cooker, sending curry on a mission to mars. So yes, I wasn’t a welcome sight in the kitchen. But would I give up? No way! I promised my mum I would stay off the stove and stick to “simpler”, “easier” things like slicing and dicing.
Simple I said! Easy i believed! 8 sliced open fingers, both palms almost shredded on the slicer and a real bad case of garlic allergy later I was sent off packing and adviced to READ through cookbooks, enjoy the pictures, salivate and use only my imagination to cook.

I know my mum and aunts heaved sighs of utter despair wondering what levels of food poisoning I would subject my future husband to. “Would she able to even boil water?” Asked one aunt, “her Husband’s salary will all be spent on takaway” quipped another, all the while my mum clucked her tongue, shook her head and vowed to brave the kitchen exploding and teach me some basics (starting with boiling water). Well she was never able to give me any proper lessons because for some reason extremely slow chopping of onions, constant dropping of the knife and spacing out amidst the chopping seemed to bother her! I wonder why?

All through college I ate my mum’s food and never cast so much as a shadow in the kitchen. Then came Chennai. Right after my post graduation I was hired by a renouned media group in Chennai. Excitement was aflow which quickly ebbed when bugets and cash crimping set in. So take out every day was out of the question. That’s when my roomies and I decided to cook. Our first officially home made meal? Rice and a mixed veggie curry (which took all of 5 people to make!!) And it was the most  delicious dish we ever ate! I guess the fruits of hard labor (it was to us first timers anyway!) is indeed yum!

Then the five of us split into twos and singles. My friend Jewel and I were roomies and foodies and we got along well that way! Slowly we eased ourselves into cooking. This time we were cooking for survival. Rice became less and less gloggy, curries finally shifted from the constant potato masala and dal to bindi, cauliflower, brinjal and others. In a couple of months,we entered the sacred territory of non vegetarian cooking. Needless to say I burnt my first batch of chicken curry, served up raw fish curry and made prawns so spicy I almost emptied a fire extinguisher down my throat. But yes, we got the hang of it in a while. We quickly moved to trying out various cuisines and with pachakam.com (our trusty mallu online recipe portal sidekick) it was a breeze. From mughlai to chinese, chettinad to Italian we did it all and we experimented on some of our very “lucky” colleagues. They were not disappointed or poisoned so yay! We were good to go.

Back home. I made my mum coffee. She drank it…fully! I made honey chicken and people ate it happily, I made pasta and my cousins gobbled it up. The biggest honor? My mum asking me for tastes and improvements in her curries! I think I finally arrived! (In my eyes anyway) and just when I think I am a major masterchef, I go and burn milk into a dish. Vicious cycle this!

Prawn Curry

Mixed veg and egg noodles

Honey chicken

Good ol chilly chicken

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