Cooking is an art that has evaded me for 22 odd years. When I tried, the vegetables weren’t cooked enough or it was too salty. The idea that I could convert raw material like pungent hing , red lentils or green chilies into edible substances of favourable consistency seemed magical to me.
Except when I learnt. Most human beings have the luxury of a slow progress into cooking. The first time I cooked was when I had to entertain about twenty foreigners keen to try Indian food.
Scary, right ? It gets worse.
I was looking for a beautiful place to live free in and do some work in exchange. I wrote to an eco village in Scotland. The Dutch lady who ran it had an Indian husband .She wrote back enthusiastically saying that I was welcome ‘’especially if I could prepare lovely Indian meals’’ .
I agreed. After all, I had occasionally cooked dal under heavily supervised situations. However, when I arrived I realized here is a woman who can pronounce ‘Dosha’ properly and someone who has yelled at the unsuspecting Bangladeshis running an Indian restaurant in Aberfeldy, the closest town.
As we all know, British food that is actually food basically consists of falafel, pizza and curry. Curry being a generic term for all Indian food ranging from Biryani to Utthappam. Every British town has the ubiquitous Indian restaurant. Recently, a Turkish man living in England wrote to me asking which places in my opinion are the best to research a representative version of Indian food. HE plans to open an Indian restaurant .
Anyhow, my turn to cook arrives. My partner is a British girl , aged 27, who has assisted child births in Africa and has had the babies named after her..When it came to Indian food though..She was pretty clue less. She could only help in chopping tomatoes..
I had enough time to call India and get exact instructions to make egg curry and peas pulao, the best I could manage in the forty minutes assigned to me.
At that time, making a gravy was the scariest thing in the world. I didn’t even have pureed tomatoes and I was too ‘ghati’ to know that tinned tomatoes worked as well.I didn’t know that chopped tomatoes could evolve into gravy. Clearly, blanching was as new to me as neurology will always be.
Anyhow, I managed to make enough gravy to mildly coat each boiled egg and still have some extra left.
The peas pulao wasn’t intensely flavourful or anything but that’s because the basmati in Britain ,
Anyhow, most people such as the Italian who makes brilliant pizza appreciate my food with a little more than just politeness in their heart. M, who ran the place though didn’t really seem to think I was a gourmet chef . She even later refried the rice and spiced it up.
How does one estimate spice for an audience that believes roclet is spicy and achar is the same as weapons of mass destruction?
I had another chance though. When I managed along with C to make a fragrant coconut based curry, mildly spiced dal and rice..and then my cooking confidence grew enough to start a food blog only to abandon it..so I decided to repost the lone post on dear zteky.