Times Kitchen Tales Nupur

How do you feel when your food not only gets appreciated but also brings tears of joy and happiness to someone? The answer to this question is my story about a home-made meal which I specially prepared and delivered to my friend as a birthday gift. A home-made meal, as a birthday gift! Sounds strange right? In this busy world when you have this convenient facility of instant food delivery, making a meal as a gift sounds quite unusual. Honestly I did had a certain doubt in my mind, “is this even a valid gift”. This was neither expensive, nor it was wrapped in a shiny paper, so I wasn’t really sure about how she would react to it.

Little did I know that her reaction will bring me a feeling of contentment, a feeling which can not be put into words. I believe food is the language for love. In our life we come across many people but there are very few people who become special. Similarly I have an ex-colleague, named Pavithra, who would call me “Ma” and often jokes about wanting me to adopt her, as she is crazy about my cooking. Or should I say she is crazy about food in general and finds the same care in my food, which I found in my mother’s. 

When I was a child, my birthdays used to be a day of feast. Starting from breakfast and ending with dinner would be filled with my favourite dishes prepared by my mother, who is an excellent cook and I guess I have inherited this art of her. I am the youngest and most pampered among the three sisters. They would do their best to make it extra special. Given we are from a middle class family, my birthday’s would even create a little dent on my parents budget (which I realise now) but they never really made me feel so and my father would buy the biggest cake for my birthday.

Once you grow up and start living away from them, all you have and cherish are those sweet memories from the past. Good food doesn’t only brings you nostalgia but is the medium to create new sweet memories. So as it was my friend Pavithra’s birthday, I decided to make her a “Special Meal” just as how my mother would make on my birthday. 

This above mentioned home made meal included Chicken Biryani (because she loves non-veg), veg raita, and strawberry cake presented in three ways. I decided to go with a traditional layered Chicken-Dum-Biryani. This is the most renowned form of Biryani, in which the rice and chicken are half-cooked separately, combined together by forming layers and cooked further on low flame. The lid is sealed with dough and this process is called dum. 

This is garnished with fried onions (also known as Barista), coriander leaves and mint leaves along with saffron to enhance the color and flavour. 

For the veg raita, chopped onion, tomato and cucumber, mixed with yogurt, seasoned with salt and cumin powder. Do add a pinch of sugar, it will balance the acidity. Garnish with Coriander leaves. The cake was made in a cooker. Consisted of refined flour, milk, eggs, sugar, oil, baking powder, chopped strawberries and strawberry essence. This was cooked for 50-55 minutes. This cake was presented in three different ways. Simple slices, cake with chocolate frosting and cake in a jar. Cake in a jar, was layered with vanilla cream frosting, chocolate frosting, garnished with sliced strawberries. 

All the items were separately packed in different boxes as they needed to be carried to her workplace. I also packed extra boxes of Biryani and raita as it was expected that my other ex- colleague friends would also want a taste of everything so that Pavithra does not have to share from her special meal. 

My doubts about the validity of my gift went away when I saw the expression on her face, and later in the day, when I saw her sharing the pictures of the meal on various social media and expressing her feelings of joy and happiness about the gift. She said that she literally gets tears in her eyes whenever she thinks about this day.

I want to end this write up by quoiting her post: “I am truly blessed!!! I have this fairy tale like  mother who cooks amazing food and bakes even more amazing cakes!!! She made my day! I love you. The best birthday gift I could have ever imagined!! What did I do to deserve friends like you.”

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