Friday, May 2, 2014

Introduction to my culinary journey

Pull up a chair, take a taste.  Come join us.  Life is so endlessly delicious.
                                       -Ruth Reichl

To me, cooking is a  perfect combination of art and science, all wrapped together with love and passion.
One day, when I was 17 years old, I was with my friend Bina, who learned to cook quite early.  She was cutting some potato with much precision so I told her I also prefer cutting  vegetables neatly and of the same size. She laughed  and  replied, "If I won't cut it all same size, it won't cook evenly. Some will be over cooked and some will be under cooked." That was the first cooking lesson I ever learned.

 I began to actually cook when I was 20. It was occasional, but when I did cook, a  sweet aroma would spread around the house and the neighbors would ask me to make those dishes for them too. (I still remember the Gujarati dal, stuffed bitter melon curry and stuffed bottle guard  curry). But I never felt like I loved cooking. I would always be busy with my reading, and rarely tried anything beyond that.

Then, when I got married, I was from a strict Jain family (who doesn't eat roots), and my husband liked onion, garlic, potato etc. In the beginning, it created a few situations which left me upset, but now it's just a funny story for me to look back to.

Once I made puris for pani puri for the next day and made aloo paratha with tomato chatnee that day. When my husband came home he could make out the smell (his smell senses are very good). He asked me to make sweet chatnee. Since we had no fridge back then, I tried making an unsuccessful attempt at convincing him to eat paratha for that day. Then, he ate some puri with tomato chatnee. The next day, when he was having dinner, he asked me for some onion. I had absolutely no idea that pani puri contained onion in it, but, anyway I cut the onion and gave it to him.  Then next question was "where is garlic chatnee?" - and it was the same case as with the onion - I had no idea of having  pani puri . I started to feel sensitive but then he said that it was okay and to give him chana. I told him that I love papadi puri, so I can makes some ragda which I thought would go well with pani puri as well.  Then he asked have you ever seen pani puri without channa, and I began to cry.

Once my husband was joking about how finely he can cut onion. Since this was new to me, we had competition and a friend was judge,  with minor difference I won. Now it feels so funny.

The journey progressed, and I used to make many new dishes without even realizing that I had any passion or love for cooking. Soon, we came to USA and had twins. At this point I felt  that I started liking other cuisines more than our usual food roti, sabji, dal(my husband used to eat rice only once in a while)and my naughty twins leaving no time for extensive cooking and if food wont be good my husband will tell its ok let's just eat outside which I wont like it! But anyway  I made Thai food once and he told me that its awesome so once I made it when my friends came over my place and my friend told me that it's better than restaurant so then I knew that I can make good Thai food then again I came to know I can make very good Mexican food too but couldn't find love of cooking. 

 Meanwhile kids grew older and they started telling me that I make good food but still I was away from love of cooking it was just love for my husband( cause my kids love most of my food so I only have to worry for my husband,  he won't accept anything less than perfect).  My husband some times jokes I taught you  cooking, I agree that his tough measurements made me cook better.  Now if my husband criticize I don't feel like crying but I feel like a challenge to conquer,  I feel like I am improving my skills.  
After all, according to an African proverb, Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
Then we went to Bangalore, the garden city of India. Now I was getting more time so was feeling urge to do something on my own, so my husband suggested that I was good at art so I should start painting, that's when I started feeling that probably I love cooking more than painting.  

 Then we came back to California, now  feeling that I love cooking grew stronger and stronger so I thought of creating a blog to share that love.