Sunday, September 13, 2009

From The Cooking Pot

Self's greed and ultimate devotion to food can only be matched by complete lack of cooking skills.

Tea- Yes, Yes.
Sandwich?-Ok, almost
Omlette- It can look like a shady map, but can manage.

Anything apart from these are expecting too much out of some one who can't even boil an egg. However, knowing to cook thy own broth is an essential skill in the new city. Restaurants or even small eateries can charge you the equivalent of a three day room rent for a single meal. In addition, they will send your digestive tracts into a "wanting repair" stage.

So, there is no option but to cook. Looking at Japenese, Korean and Taiwanese house mates, it looked incredibly simple. They chop a few veggies and meat, boil some water and put a few secret sauces and produce tasty meals in no time- all with the ease of a magician producing rabbits out of his hat.

After all, how difficult can it be. So, unpacked the vital machinery for Indian cooking- the pressure cooker. Mom had lovingly packed it and self has lugged it across seven seas or whatever.

Now, the thing with pressure cookers is that they produce whistles of good horse power. In India, among the pandemonium of several noises, the sound seems a trifle. In fact, the whistle of the neighborhood Aunty's pressure cooker [it had particularly strong lungs] was like a much loved song- a kind of melancholy song, reminding me of all the dishes she can cook and I cannot.

However, in the new city, people have an entirely different approach to sound. As soon as the little pressure cooker gave its first tentative whistle, my house mates ran hither tither as if a nuclear bomb alert has been sounded. It took some time and a few monologues on 'Indian cooking styles' to reduce the blood pressure of the room. So, the good old pressure cooker became a sitting duck from day one. This ruled out three out of the four dishes that self knows to cook. Some thing should be done about the over reliance of Indian cooking on pressure cookers.

Since "not to give up" is our motto, soon enough started pottering around to make some thing to eat. My preparations were received with much enthusiasm from the spectators. Several inmates from the East Asian countries came to have a look at the "Indian curry".

Self basked in the glory of all the attention and did not find it necessary to mention that what is cooking on the pot was not "curry", but "kichdi", a kind of low market Indian broth, generally served to the sick.

In a span of two to three days self single handedly managed to destroy the reputation of Indian cuisine in the minds of the Far east Asians in near vicinity- read house mates. No one hovers around self's "curry" pot any more. In fact, even self finds it difficult to mouth or digest the Indian atrocities dished out by own hands.

But still, "never to give up " is the motto. So after watching a well informed Taiwanese house mate cooking very posh looking salmon, self went ahead and bought raw salmon worth not a small sum of money. Then proceeded to buy 'coconut milk' [salmon and coconut milk can't go wrong] from a spice shop run by a seedy Chinese old man. "Darling, you made my day", said the old man while I paid the 72 pence for the coconut milk.
Digression. The yeoman English [and their Chinese, Indian and Caribbean impersonators] have a habit of addressing anything remotely female as "darling"

So self was 'darlin'ged soon after the English shores were touched. The very first man/boy in the world to call self "darling" was a 17 year old punk street seller. Self was haggling with him about the price of a mattress. How poignant!

Now, back to the salmon. As soon as it was made and tasted, it had to be immediately transferred to the dust bin for the good of all involved. Made a mental note that one should never buy 72 pence coconut milk which qualifies more as sticky liquid. On the next day, "baingan ka bhartha" was also well received by the dust bin.

Very soon, self came to the following very important conclusions.

1. To cook only a small quantity- that will preserve the health of the dust bin and self's pocket.

2. To rely more on fresh milk, eggs, bread and fruits which the British supermarkets give out of their plenty

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