A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for April 14th, 2016

Some days are like that

Posted by Pepper on April 14, 2016

I’ve never been an efficient cook. While I can manage to cook a decent meal, it takes me forever to put it together. And when I see people who can cook for a group of 10 in an hour or so, I feel awful. I usually take about an hour or so to whip up something for 2 to 3 people. In fact, I find the ‘prep time’ stated by most recipes to be very misleading. Especially when it comes to Indian cooking. How can chopping all those veggies, dicing onions, preparing the ginger garlic paste take only 30 minutes? It takes me a year. Sigh.

I must say, my timing had improved a little when I was forced to cook everyday while we lived in the US. All those years of preparing meals all by myself had resulted in me being a little fast, or faster than my usual self at least. Unfortunately, ever since we moved back to India, I managed to unlearn all the skills I had acquired. All the cooking was outsourced. I still feel grateful when I am presented with a hot meal prepared by our cook. But I have to admit, I have lost touch with everyday cooking.

But of course, there are still days when I want to cook on my own. Because like I have said, although our cook has a steady hand when it comes to Indian cooking, she has very rigid ideas in her head. She refuses to explore or innovate. As a result, we are forced to eat not just Indian food, but Indian food prepared in the same way. Also, she has little to no knowledge of South Indian cuisine. Or any other regional cuisine for that matter. It is all completely alien to her. She refused to even believe that sambar was eaten with rice. She insisted sambar was had only with idlis and dosas, the way it is served in Udupi restaurants in Mumbai. Sigh. For a self proclaimed samhar saadam lover, such lack of knowledge was blasphemous.

And so, on some days I cook. It takes me forever, but I still think the effort and time I put in is worth it if it gives us a break from the regular fare. I also read so many food blogs, I feel overcome by the desire to try out the recipes I have bookmarked. Trying to ‘explain’ the recipe to our cook is a pointless exercise. Doing it yourself is far simpler. Ideally though, I should ask our cook to chop and get all prep work done. Unfortunately, I end up giving her a day off every time I decide to cook. This is because I feel guilty asking her to come all the way just for chopping a few things.

It takes me forever to dice 3 onions and peel a few pods of garlic. I time myself, I try so hard to speed up, but each time I feel let down and discouraged by the amount of time it takes me. And some days are worse than the others. Other than moving in the kitchen in an exceptionally slow manner, I successfully create one disaster after another.

Like the other day, I was excited about trying a new recipe I had found on some blog. I placed my laptop on the kitchen counter and plugged it in to a socket on the other side. As a result, I tripped on the charging cable and dropped the little bowl of yogurt I was carrying in my hand. It took me a couple of minutes to clean up the spilt yogurt.

And then, I tried to puree some tomatoes in the mixie. The result was a shower of tomato puree all over my face, my arm, the mixie, the floor, the cabinets and even the ceiling! Either I overshot the capacity of our mixer or I didn’t hold down the lid right, but the result was not pleasant. In fact it made me cry.

mess

 

After the hour long clean up session, I was beginning to question my own sanity. Why do I even attempt to cook when I have the option not to? Maybe I am incapable. Maybe these things are not meant for me. Mint got home exactly at that time and on seeing the bedlam, let out a laugh. Of course, I wanted to hit him for laughing at me. That night when he was clearing the kitchen after dinner (that we ordered), he came up to tell me that he could spot some dried red pulp on some cabinets on the other end of the kitchen. I sighed. Looked like I had coloured our kitchen red. This was going to need a few more sessions of cleaning up.

I’m not sure what changed by morning, but the next morning I decided I wasn’t giving up. I love food too much to do that. Instead, I am going to have to try harder. Let’s see how this goes..

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