The secret ingredient

When I was 15, I never imagined living away from my parents. I wanted to, but I didn’t think it would ever happen. When I turned 17 my parents sent me away to university and I couldn’t have been more greatful. It was freedom the kind I’d craved and it meant making my own decisions and it also meant a ‘HUGE’ bump in pocket money!!!  😮

In university, I learnt to wash my own clothes after I put all my clothes together in the washing machine and all the colors bled onto one another. I learnt how to make my own bed because, the lack of our housekeeper Roopa meant I’d come back to my dorm after classes to be greeted with a messy bed and a wet towel on top of my comforter. Also, learnt that I need to put my towel out on the line to dry if I didn’t want it to be smelly & gross & eventually grow mould. I learnt how to share a bathroom and keep all of my junk together in little bags as opposed to my dressing table back home, which if I have to be really honest with you, was my dumping ground for the wet towel I mentioned earlier.

But, the most important thing I learnt in University (besides the extremely expensive education my parents paid for) was how to cook. I mean I always knew how to cook, I mean who doesn’t? It’s easy to learn the technicalities, follow recipes available in books and online but you’re never quite sure if it turned out exactly like the pictures are you? It took me a while to bridge the gap between following instructions and the food actually tasting good.

Before I came to Uni my mom taught me how to put things together, no doubt about it. She was trying to teach me how to cook but I felt no need or interest in learning. But I soon developed the need to learn how to cook and that eventually became a point of interest, especially when I moved out of my hostel and into a private apartment building. A best friend I made in college taught me nuances, a few things to add or delete from some basic recipes and things started looking up. With every trip back home I took an active interest in what my mom was cooking, and she always made it a point to cook my favourite things. I’d go back to college & my shared apartment and always try out what I learnt, and if I must say so myself things I made turned out to be so great. Everybody loved it, but every morsel I put in my mouth tasted so so different from what my mom made. Why? How? I always seemed so confused about it. I’d cook the same things for my mom and she couldn’t find anything wrong with them either but I could.

I continued my cooking journey even after college and kept dazzling my friends (they were quite surprised that I knew how to turn on the gas, let alone cook) and my mother but I knew in my heart it was always missing something. Some years later when I got married I learnt some great things from my mother- in- law (also a great cook). I recreated those in her absence and for her approval as well and although she gave me a A+ it just wasn’t…

When Mukul & I got a place of our own I couldn’t get a cook for sometime so I took it upon myself to cook and with every vegetable I chopped, every pot I stirred, every dish I prepared, every time I plated it and served it I knew what I’d missed. Every bite Mukul would take and every time he’d open his eyes wider and say “mmmmm”, I’d take a step closer to acknowledging what gave my mother’s cooking that extra taste. Every time I cook his favourite meal and when he clears the dishes, he makes it a point to give me an extra few kisses and it always makes me smile and I finally know the secret ingredient..Love

If you cook, then you’ll know that when you’re in a good mood, the food that you make is always tasty, however small or large a portion it is. But when you’re in a foul mood things never tend to work out. My mother once told me that the key to making sure I cook good food is to remember to dump all of my stress, my sorrow & my grief before entering the kitchen. She told me that the food that I make (or anybody who cooks for more than themselves actually) not only feeds me but somebody else as well and I have to make sure I always add that extra ingredient: Love. Because that’s what I want in the bellies of my family & friends instead of all my life’s worries.

I have stood by this thought and I strongly endorse it too. Whenever Mukul & I fight we get take out or we pause the fight and go out. Another great idea for all you couples out there but that is another story for another time. For now I leave you with a little something on love: ” The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.” – Henry Miller

xoxo

 

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In pursuit of a Prince (Chapter 1)

Ever since she could remember, she always figured her husband would be like one of those guys you see in American movies. Charming, suave, well spoken, well groomed, tall. Handsome wasn’t necessarily on the list but well-groomed, well-spoken and charming trumps good looking any day. She’d daydream about him brewing coffee in the morning; making breakfast on weekends, even cooking on weekdays sometimes. An Indian girl’s American dream! Oh wow! More than anything else, it was the cooking she really looked forward to. It wasn’t as if she was a bad cook or an inexperienced one, quite the contrary but she just liked the idea of being cooked for. A dream of sorts for her, we could say. So she dreamed and dreamed and dreamed about her perfect man and his amazing cooking skills or atleast the idea of him. After all, a girl can dream, can’t she?

As it is in all Indian households, when she was old enough (atleast by their perception) to get married, her parents began looking for alliances. They weren’t closed minded people, oh no they most certainly were not! They, in fact kept asking her if she had a special someone in her life. She kept responding “No yet”. She said she was waiting..waiting for ‘The One’. She told them that she wasn’t going to go looking for him but she would sit back and let him find her. She was convinced that match making activities and online marriage portals wont lead her to him. He was going to carve the path that would lead to her. She had convinced herself that this was how it was meant to be. But you can’t really explain concepts such as these to Indian parents, can you? So what do you do? You give in and you hope that they inadvertently end up creating the bridge that will lead Him to find you.

Being caring and loving parents that they were they listened to her entire monologue on finding The One. They contemplated and subsequently confirmed that she did in fact want to get married, but her reassurances just confused them more. But she said, she wanted somebody who could cook. Parents being parents, they didn’t think it was as critical a criterion while selecting a possible husband for their precious darling. And I mean come on! What are you even supposed to say? “Our daughter won’t marry you unless you cook?” That would just sound like our daughter can’t cook. People will just think we didn’t teach her anything. She will come across as spoilt. We can’t risk that! Oh no no no!

So they searched and they met and they introduced their darling to several lovely boys, but she didn’t show too much interest. She returned from each meeting with a new deal breaker every time. The first one was too obsessed with his work; the next one was too obsessed with his looks. The third one seemed to love boys more than girls, and the fourth one smelt funny. The fifth, sixth and seventh were either too educated, too laidback or still connected to his parents with an umbilical cord of sorts. No! No! No! This was not working and she did not want to do it anymore. None of them were right and none of them were Mr.Right. The one she was looking for was just lost, needle in a haystack…you think? Her parents thought it best for her to find somebody on her own. Disappointment turned into sadness and soon depression, and bordered on thoughts like maybe she was being way too picky than was acceptable, maybe she didn’t know what it meant to recognize somebody for their inner beauty? Maybe she didn’t even know what went into deciding what was right for her in terms of a partner? Nobody trained her on the art of selecting a life partner, so how could she possibly be expected to know? There needs to be a rule book on things like this!! Ugh..!! But even amongst all these depressing thoughts, there was one underlining feeling, actually more of a faith now that you think of it. Faith that made her believe, that she was going to find him. He’s literally right around the corner, and when she finally meets him, she’ll recognize him for who he is: The One.

To be continued…

 

From cooking dud to cooking stud..How?

It’s been the longest, forever-est time since I last wrote here and it kills me,  that I haven’t had the time to do the one thing that I enjoy the most-writing. But anyhow, I’m here now back to writing and it’s wonderful.

So, I recently joined a new job. It’s fantastic and I love it. I work for a fashion start up which is focused on sustainable fashion. It’s a novel concept and it’s introduced me to so many different  aspects of fashion, sustainable, responsible and ethical. That being said, I made a few good friends in my new workplace as well. We bonded so well and in no time we were having lunches and afternoon cocktails and then I invited them over to lunch one day on the condition that I’ll cook for them. I made spaghetti bolognese and a chocolate fudge cake, and I wanna say “Holy what????”

I never imagined last year  this time that I could cook something like that. Admitted spaghetti bolognese and chocolate fudge isn’t rocket science but coming from somebody who could barely understand the lack of salt in a meal.. lemme tell u..it’s a big deal!

Its the learnings of living on your own. With no mommy standing behind you directing your every move, and with no elder sister periodically walking into the kitchen telling you some recipe hacks- you tend to learn a lot!!! When I moved out of home, all I kept thinking was how I’m gonna be eating takeout and microwave dinners every night. Uggghhhh imagine your taste buds dying slowly and steadily coz you ate too much TV dinner. I’m pretty sure that’s what kept urging me to learn and try to cook new things (or cook in the first place). I picked up new recipes from the hundreds of websites that tell you all the best ways to cook and plate and present a dish. I discovered some recipes on my own, though I’d rather say I stumbled upon them. I also fabulously picked up a few cues from my mom and some from my stylish chef girlfriends and after about an year I can now say I can whip up anything you wanna eat. And I’m proud!

One of my achievements has got to be that I single handedly cooked an authentic Indian meal for a party of 10 to the most glorious of praises. Come on!! That’s gotta mean something right? In a way my whole cooking quest started off as a means  to an end and then it slowly became a challenge to push myself and see how far I can go and now it’s become a source of happiness and it’s an extremely interesting a hobby to have.

I wonder if anybody else thinks this way but the fact is that cooking is a mirror for your feelings. Literally! How you feel can actually be tasted in the food you make. When you’re angry, and I mean really really angry and you’re cooking, the food never tastes as great as you want it to. So I make sure not to cook when I’m super upset. I want to put as much love and affection and good wishes in the food I make because it isn’t just me eating the food now is it? I’m feeding it to my friends and family and I don’t want any negative energy passing on to them through my food.

I don’t have any children, atleast not yet and I hope to have 1 someday and I want to train myself to drain my negativity and replace it with positivity, especially while cooking. I imagine myself cooking wonderful things for my growing baby and I would need a technique to push the negativity out so I can put all of my love even from my deepest reserves and all of luck in the food I make for my child.

Getting back to the original topic of discussion, I also learnt much to my surprise as much as I thought cooking is difficult or even Herculean for that matter, it actually isn’t. All of you men and women out there who think cooking isn’t for them or that it’s a waste of time, I urge you to try it. I don’t mean you take a class and you learn fine Italian cuisine. I mean just go through your kitchen cabinets and your refrigerator put together all the things that you can find (or are atleast edible) look up a few possible things to make using one or all of the things you found and just go about it. There is no such person who cannot cook. Everybody can cook!!! And I mean EVERYBODY! You may not cook well, or fast or in variety but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook. Trust me, coming from the biggest rebel against cooking (simply because it was too messy) it’s definitely true!

Do you wanna take up the cooking challenge today? 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning!

I am not a morning person! Not in the least! And you know how they say opposites attract? Well that can be a pain in your neck sometimes, because my husband is a morning person. I don’t just mean “a-regular-start-your-day-on-a-good-note-in-the-morning” kinda person, NO!!! He is a “the-sun-is-going-to-rise-in-10-minutes-and-I-really-can’t-wait-to-bask-in-the-amazingness-of-the-sunrise” kinda person.

I mean he wakes up ridiculously early, and goes for a run and when he returns, he is almost always in a freakishly good mood, full of energy, ready to make coffee and breakfast. I love him, I really do but I cannot be so bright and sunny in the morning, especially not on an empty stomach.

I am always hesitant to start my day in the morning and I don’t know how many times I have actually prayed for an entire day to be skipped 😦

But, I grudgingly get out of bed with lots of encouragement from my husband (God Bless him!)

But it’s technically NOT a “Morning” for me unless I have a plate of yummy food in front of me 🙂

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And it becomes a “Good Morning” when I have a cup of coffee before going to work.. And I’m ready to start my day 🙂

 

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