I entered my marital home 23 years ago armed with recipe books among other things. In the days following up to the wedding, I had spent quite a few hours copying recipes in a red leather-bound diary which even today sits along with my other recipe books in the kitchen. My grandmother, mother, and her siblings were all adept at creating some extraordinary culinary delights and hence I had a reputation to live up to.
Marriage was soon followed by motherhood and that meant rustling up baby-friendly food besides regular food. (There was therefore a time when my cooking consisted of two parts: cooking for adults and cooking up a mish mash for babies.) I soon had my very own collection of recipe books – learning, burning and experimenting. I gradually moved from the traditional East Indian cuisine to the cuisines of other communities and cultures. There was so much to learn. The little that I had pottered around in the kitchen with ma during my spinsterhood days was just a drop in the ocean. A friend had gifted me a recipe book as a wedding present and in it she wrote words of wisdom – “this recipe book has been the reason of the success of my 15-year-old marriage.”
I remember the time when my brother and his family visited our home and I had cooked a peas pulao for lunch which turned out bone dry. Yes, instead of doubling the quantity of water, I had absent-mindedly added the same measure of water as the rice, something that I realized long after my guests had departed. Again, my now 20-year-old son never fails to remind me of the time when I added very liberal amounts of scraped coconut to pau bhaji. The coconut was to be used for another dish but absentmindedly I had liberally sprinkled the same on the pau bhaji.
There have been umpteen goof ups but all is well that ends well and today I can rustle up a pretty decent meal for my family. (my husband, the 20 – year – old and the 22-year-old). Together with the stack of recipe books, I have come to rely heavily on YouTube, Facebook and a virtual recipe book called Kitchen Queen initiated by a college friend.
I can cook but sometimes find daily cooking to be a big bore and chore. It is planning the menu that finds me tearing my hair. Just yesterday I tried a new missal pau recipe – cooked with green masala and it turned out pretty yummy. At the same time, I am aware that there must be food on the table. I am grateful to my husband who pitches in whenever he can.
We are trying to make healthy eating a way of life. There are more of idlis and dosas on the breakfast table now. The oven sees more of tandoori chicken. The boys anyway are not too fond of curries. I do a cheesy bake once in a way to please palates but generally try and stick to healthy cooking. I am waiting to bake the finger -millet- banana bread that I have chanced upon. Baking I understand is a very swift method of cooking but can also be unhealthy if you go heavy on the cheese and grease. We have invested in a steamer and often dine on steamed veggies. Salads are favored by all.
The youngest in the house, the 20-year-old began his tryst with cooking as a chocolatier, putting together some divine fillings for the chocolates. He is quite adept in the kitchen and prepares his own breakfast which includes very cheesy omelets and dosas. Unlike the older boy, he is able to fend for himself. Junior MasterChef helped with stuffing and baking traditional stuffed and baked Christmas chicken. He is very particular about measurements and flavor. Yesterday, Junior master chef turned out some yummy masala pau for himself. My mouth watered but I indulged in just a quarter because by the weighing scale I would be slaughtered.