What’s Cooking?

Ever tried impressing your wife by cooking a decent meal for her? And surprising her? (That`s one of my New Year resolutions).

I suggest, you don`t. I tried, and it only backfired. I went without lunch and Rekha, my wife of 115 days, had her fill.

It was 1st Jan 2005, a holiday for both of us. Rekha wanted to go and meet a friend of hers who had only recently given birth to a baby girl. And she did.

Since one of my resolutions was to surprise Rekha (instead of shocking), I decided to prepare lunch by the time she was back. It was pretty easy. All I had to do was go to http://sify.com/food, search for the ‘Culinary Delights` that I wanted to work on and get preparation methodology.

I remember my mother once telling me that cooks were like engineers. You decide on the plan, source the raw materials and then go about building the small blocks which when put together will become the ‘building`. In my case – a tasty lunch.

Once I had the recipe from the net, I needed to source the raw materials – vegetables, rice and masala, oil etc. It never occurred to me that Rekha would have all the required vegetables in the fridge. I thought that was for ice cubes when you wanted to have some whiskey, for beer when you had decided on the barley drink, for ice-cream for when visitors came knocking, and for keeping harmless stuff like Coke, cheese, butter, paneer etc.

After an hour-long search in the market-place I had all the vegetables I needed. I had decided on paneer palak and aloo mutter as side-dishes. Needless to say, we would have needed sambar for rice.

With the main course ready on paper, I had to decide on the dessert. I decided on gajar-ka-halwa – the favourite of Bollywood actors spanning three generations – from Raj Kapoor to Rajesh Khanna to now Shah Rukh Khan.

After spending three hours in an oven like kitchen…I had the full course ready. It was not tasty and all, but at least it was a beginning.

Rekha came back at 2 p.m….she sure was surprised. Shocked would be a better word. For the next half-an-hour I was lectured on why I should not indulge myself in cooking. It was 2.30 and I was hungry. But she went on….here is the list of things that I should have kept notice of while cooking –

1) Switch on the exhaust fan before you start cooking. This could save you from allegations like you burnt the food (even if you did, they wont know). You could also smoke in the kitchen and get away with it.
2) Make sure the vessels are clean before you put the vegetables inside. She refuses to agree that I washed the cooker clean…in spite of the sambar smelling of Dettol soap.
3) If you wash the vessels, make sure you remove the vim bar from inside. She says I could have left it inside the cooker. Actually, that does explain the green colored rice, I made.
4) Fruit Spice, cardamom, ginger, saffron, jeera, fenugreek, garlic, mustard, turmeric belong to the Spice family but don`t necessarily contribute to making the sambar spicy. Hence, don`t have all of them in the sambar.
5) While cooking, please don`t assume that it is going to be the last session inside the kitchen. Remember, that kitchens are not use-and-throw…they need to be used again…hence keep them clean.

There is one thing Rekha did not tell me and I learnt myself. When you cook, prepare enough of everything…otherwise chances are you would go hungry and spend your afternoon looking at your wife sleeping like an overfed-angel!

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