Thursday, January 10, 2008

Culinary Chronicles!

I read Thinking Aloud's post on her culinary troubles and that has inspired this post!!
I am going to write about my tryst with cooking and hope you will still like me just a little at the end of this!!
If you know me in person know of my love-hate relationship with the kitchen. I love food, I hate cooking!!
My tryst with the Kitchen started as a young girl.. I spent hours in the kitchen watching my mom cook as I sat on my perch - the kitchen counter! I would yap away and that would be the extent of my contribution to the meal!
When I turned 16, my mom declared if I wanted any fried snacks, I would have to make it myself... Reluctantly I began venturing into the kitchen to fry up a storm!! And leave dozens of unwashed dishes in the sink, and leave my mom wondering how I could go through so many dishes to make 10 pakodas!
Then I started working and staying on my own.. We put this learning to good use. And made pakodas for a gathering of 10-15 ever so often.. The guys would buy the ingredients and cut up the veges, I would then fry it and my Roomie poor girl would do the dishes!
I recall making rasam one day.. We (My roomie and I .. both southies) invited our friend a Punjabi guy for lunch.. He tasted my rasam and declared there was something wrong.. He walked us through the process of making rasam and we then realized we had forgotten both tomatoes and dal.. We employed a cook soon!!
(Pict Courtesy: www.camh.net)
I then decided to get married, but even before that I made sure DH knew how to cook. I of course refused to learn any cooking in the months before the marriage.. However, after the wedding I took 2 months off from work and learnt cooking (DON'T YOU DARE LAUGH!!) ....
The following conversation will tell you how well,
Me: I am making parupu-usili, I just soaked the dal..
DH: Please don't make parupu-usili.. just make std sabji that will do!!
Me: But I want to eat parupu-usili

DH: Then you should have soaked the dals at least 2 hrs ago!!
That would shut me up
Despite the fact that I would be stumbling around in the kitchen, I had (still have) the audacity to presume that I could cook in less than an hour.. at 11:30 AM I started thinking about what to make for lunch!
The 2 months at home did nothing to improve my culinary skills. I did spend a lot of time on Yahoo Messenger though!!
So finally I gave up and went back to the tried and tested Fried Rice and Sabji. Being South Indians we never could tell if it was good or bad,.. and we survived.
Then came the real trial. I moved to India, had a child and invited my MIL to stay with me. Now my MIL had to take care of Nantu and so couldn't cook on week days. She also couldn't survive on Fried Rice. So I did the unimaginable - I started cooking traditional South Indian food. Now if you know me, you know I am very paranoid when it comes to food.. so I made South Indian fare sans Salt, Chili , Coconut and Oil !!! I know you are pitying my MIL.. pity me instead!!
I have of course learnt a lot in the past 5 years..
I have learnt to blame the "podi" (Sambhar powder and rasam powder) or the brand of "rice" (oh yes I manage to burn that or make it into a mushy paste!!).
I have learnt the magic words "Calories", "Healthy food".... when my food turns out to be tasteless and flavorless.
I have learnt about the ready made pastes that make the gravies taste oh so wonderful!! (Only when I manage not to burn them)
I have learnt to cook South Indian food when North Indians visit and vice versa, and when I have a mixed gathering I make Pasta (You cant go too wrong with Pasta) or Thai Curry (Ready made paste remember?)
If the gathering includes Americans too, there is always take out and the pricey caterer!!
I have learnt to fake headaches or fever to make DH cook (even after he has had a long day!! :P)
And then I have learnt to say ....
To Nantu "You don't have to like it.. you just have to eat it "
To DH "If you don't like it, you can do the cooking"

And of course I have learnt that there is always the dependable pizza place!! :)

After Word: The reason I make this post is because I know so many of my fellow bloggers claim that they are lacking in culinary skills. When you read this I hope to put your thoughts in perspective!!

After After Word: The past years we have traveled a lot and eaten in a lot of obscure places. We have also been to some friend's places who are also unfortunate with their culinary struggles. While I empathize with them,
DH says "Oh I wish I could have a home cooked meal"
I ask "Really, you prefer my cooking"
DH says "To this, yes!!"...
Even though that doesn't sound quite like a compliment.. I cant help dance with joy!!

14 comments:

DotMom said...

What a charming post :) I am still grinning! You sound exactly like my mom. she is capable of burning rice.

Fuzzylogic said...

You are new found best friend Preethi!Does that explain you are in good company:):)By the way I'm back:)thanks for checking in:)Hope you had a great new year!

rayshma said...

LOL!!
yes, u DO make me think from a different perspective! :D
and in case i hadn't sed it before... i really do like u a LOTT!! :D

Thinking aloud said...

hey preeti...we are pals for ever just for this...

i'm a reluctant cook, my mom was so paranoid that every sunday wa s cooking day...for the three girkls...but we had fun..luckily for people arnd me the dish turns out well...

great minds think alike...**to cook South Indian food when North Indians visit and vice versa,**...heheh..i do te same..the poor things...

ummm...u can go wrong with pasta :(

loved this post ...

Prats said...

hahahaha....that was a great rasam, preethi!!

I think all those who hate the C word would just love MTR... :)

But you can always learn to love cooking, it just takes a few minutes of the mind to assure yourself that you can do it....its the lvoe that goes into it that makes it tasty...trust me..

Preethi said...

Dotmom - Thanks.. and wow I cant believe I have company.. I of course can do no wrong its always the cooker or the brand of rice thats messed up!!
Fuzzy -Hugs... thanks for the support... and welcome back, hoping to hear more from you!!
Rayshma - You feel better do you?? **Sigh!!** Thanks for the vote though!!
TA - Pasta - Not if you use store made sauce!! :P hehe!! As for the cooking day, my mom never tried I think she gave up on us even before she tried!!
Prats - I have tried.. DH loves south Indian food.. so I tried learning to cook different varieties.. the std everyday food is still ok.. the rest I will figure out a way to mess it up!! The problem is no matter how much love I put into it, I don't invest time :P

Aryan said...

haa..hhaa..ny preethi darling...What a post. I am glad that the pujabi guy found out that something is wrong in rasam...Inspite of two yrs of marriage, even I don't know to cook decent dishes. When my mom is with me, I eat south Indian dishes. When my MIL is with me to take care of aryan, I eat North Indian dishes. Ultimatley, I when I cook, I am confused with what I should do. Should I put jeera or should I put mustard???
Aryan's mom

Rambler said...

ha ha , I liked your rasam recipe :)
I guess blaming pudi/rice, is the first signs of a good cook :D

so your MIL, did she learn the new age south indian cooking?? he he

btw I always used to crib about everything that my mom used to prepare, so one day she gave up, she said, here you go, cook yourself.
The single TV we had meant I had to watch all cookery shows with her, from my kid days, and to her surprise I did a very good job of it the first day :).

Guruprasad said...

hi, i stumbled across your blog through another friend's blog.

i loved reading some of the posts.

i like your strategy of cooking south indian for north indians and vice-versa! no one's the wiser. everyone's just fuller :)

Sumana said...

Fundoo preethi. All i could do was just laugh. I have had few ptfalls too. But some of your was ultimate. I do not do the cooking when MIL or mom visits. All i might get to hear is you know best....

Preethi said...

Aryan's Mom - I add both mustard and jeera in rasam and claim that it is my special touch ;) As for Rasam.. that is my only claim to culinary fame now.. I make a mean Rasam thanks to S my Punjabi friend!!
Rambler - So you are telling me I can visit you without any fears??!! :) As for the MIL, she did learn all that and I am sure once thing she was glad about at the end of the year was not having to eat my food anymore!!
Guru Prasad - Thanks for visiting.. and your encouragement!! Want more such strategies??! It works so well !!
Sumana - Lucky you!! My MIL would love to cook too.. but I was working at that time and had to have lunch ready before I went to work.. so she dint have much of a chance! :P

rayshma said...

note to suma: i know how to go wrong with pasta! :D

2B's mommy said...

hahaha, loved this post ! I didn't know cooking at all and then I got married. MIL got shock of her life when I made the 'shagun ka halwa' when the new bahu enters the kitchen for the first time and it turned out all gooyee like a glue - another relative had to quickly make another batch. My MIL always supervised me from then on for next 3-4 months we lived with them. When we came here without MIL or mom, can't tell you how we survived without even a decent daal-chawal and Indian restaurants weren't too many about 11 yrs back and vegetarians were almost unheard of!!
I had no choice but to learn cooking everyday food once the baby arrived. It turns out ok now( though the husband still complains at times and I tell him to start cooking and feed me something nice too!)and I do ask for really really simple recipies from friends and after practicing them a few times, they most of the time turn out ok!! That's the reason I started my food blog, to collect and keep the reaaaally simple recipies just in case my kids turn out like me !!

I loved your idea of cooking SI food for North Indians and vice versa - must try that !

Vishnupriya Janardhanan said...

lol and all the cheese,cream u add to make me eat ur food!! every time i eat ur food i put on about a 100 calories :P