|Idli (multi grain) Sambhar and Gunpowder chutney|
There was commotion in the kitchen! Only three of us were there. I and my two younger brothers were experimenting preparing an ‘Anardana Churan’ on the Primus stove when I was a student in 6th standard. Our mother was away and what better time to try out a recipe in the kitchen! That is perhaps the earliest memory of entering the kitchen for independently experimenting with the cooking. As time progressed we practiced more and learnt to cook things ranging from ‘aloo paratha’’kabuli chana’ and ‘rajma’ and by the time I was in 8th standard we could pretty much cook most of the basic things and would be given the liberty to try a few things especially on Sundays! Our relatives found it amusing that as boys we could manage to cook fairly decent fare and would at time tell our mom that she had trained the boys in a domain where most girls shy away from kitchen at that age!
The credit for this also went to our father whom we would observe cooking sometimes things which were considered to be specialties! As our mother was a teacher in a school she would return home later in the afternoon and I was the first one to reach home by 1.30 PM. The lunch was prepared, and all I had to do was to warm it! The temptation to try out different things like ’potato chops’, or ‘fried potatoes’ would result in an additional dish besides what was already cooked. There were times when my uncle who was serving in Army would come and spend a few days with us and while mother was away, we had someone else too to savor what we tried in kitchen!
The love for cooking soon crossed over from traditional to regional as mom learnt from her friends things like making ‘upma’,’ idly’ and ‘dosa’ besides various sweets prepared on festivals! So without joining any formal cooking classes we got a hang of preparing some of these dishes too! While studying at college the practice continued intermittently when time permitted.
One fine day after graduation I packed up for joining the Navy and lo and behold all the experiments came to a grinding halt, except preparing tea occasionally! Good times rolled back again as the training at the Academy completed and I was posted in Jamnagar. The food in the mess would invariably be good but soon the monotony set in. The hands itched to try out cooking but while staying in the mess it was not possible to have a gas or cooker! I designed an electric heater in the workshop that could cook and then once a fortnight instead of eating breakfast or lunch in the mess, I would prepare , ‘Upma’ or ‘Pulao’ and treat my cabin mates and a few other bachelor officers who got the whiff of what’s cooking!
After getting married, I got a teacher at home in form of my wife from whom I learnt to cook Continental, Italian, Chinese and few more dishes and realized that the rewards of this hobby are innumerable. There were occasions when I was alone after marriage in different places where Navy took me, but had never to worry about the food! Once, while in Pune, our maid came in the afternoon and saw that I was eating a full-fledged lunch and suggested that she would prepare ‘chapatis’ but I told her that I could manage!
Now, that my daughter is married and stays abroad, suggests me to switch over to healthy cooking so am a student once again learning low calorie diets involving no frying! On one of the weekends, I told her that I prepared ‘Soya Kathi Rolls’ for breakfast and for a change they did not involve any frying but all done in an oven! Some things one learns just out of sheer interest pays rich dividends later in life and comes handy on rainy day especially when it comes to cooking.
|Soya Kathi Roll|
PS: I have reached the mark of 200th post with this one and am grateful to all the readers who have supported and encouraged this blog! The pictures added are some culinary creations of yours faithfully