The times that we are going through now have definitely changed a lot of us. Virtually and literally too.
I have never looked at cooking as something important and a much required skill. My mother was an outstanding cook and spoilt us silly. As was the practice in those times, boys and men were not allowed to enter the kitchen as it was considered the job of mothers, sisters and the women at home to do the cooking.
Then I got married to Bindu. Except making Maggi noodles, rotis, and a couple of other basic items (curd rice for example) she hadn’t learnt much. Despite her best attempts to get me to learn cooking instead of her it never happened. She learnt how to cook from my mother and over the years became a really good cook, even though she doesn’t like the activity. I have always supported Bindu, by washing vessels, cleaning the house etc. but never learnt how to cook.
Then a couple of years back OPOS (One Pot One Shot) entered our lives. As a systems and process driven man (Wow, I like my own description), I got interested in cooking for the first time in my life. Plus I also had the time. I got to know from Bindu that using the OPOS method to cook food had lots of benefits. I started making a few dishes every now and then, supported by the Master Chef Bindu. I still didn’t get into cooking seriously and just dabbled with it.
With Covid19 this year, we are all under house arrest and with plenty of time at our disposal. Bindu gently reminded me to take up cooking more seriously and to learn making dishes all by myself without any support from her. I stuck to making the vegetable side dish for lunch everyday. I graduated to making Aviyal and Kadamba Satham with some help from Bindu. As Pongal is one of my all time favourites, I was keen on learning that and kept hanging around Bindu while she made it. Then I made it once without her telling me the steps and narrowly escaped a blunder. I didn’t know which spice bottle had pepper in it even though all the spice bottles are labelled, and I found a bottle with “Manathakkali” a dried herb which looks similar to pepper. Thankfully I showed it to my mother-in-law before adding it to the Pongal :):).
This morning I insisted with Bindu that I will make Pongal all by myself. I had made copious notes and I felt I didn’t need the Masterchef’s support. And I did it !!!! Got compliments from both Bindu as well as my mother-in-law for the world class Pongal I had made for all of us. In case anyone wishes to know the recipe for making Pongal, do get in touch with me.
I was also inspired by our friend Rajesh Ramakrishnan, who with the support of his Masterchef Nirupama had been making waves every Sunday cooking up some delicious food for his family.
Honestly, I now understand that all of us need to get trained to cook. It’s as much a life skill as swimming or driving or making a presentation or communicating is for all of us. Bindu keeps saying that the art and science of cooking should be made part of our school curriculum, and I agree with her totally.
Here is the photograph of the world class Pongal that I made this morning. Chutney credits go to my mother-in-law.