Cooking has never been an exciting activity to me. In fact when people express their love for cooking and how they blend their other hobbies with the hobby of cooking; I look at them wide-mouthed. From where does the love for cooking fit into a hobby list that includes playing chess, collecting stamps or even dancing? I have tried in vain to love the art of stirring and mashing and grating and mixing. Each time I have cut a sorry figure. My family has always been awfully worried about my catastrophic trysts with cooking. In a conventional Indian society, the art of cooking is considered to be a girl’s first love. She is supposed to churn out food from thin air and produce it before gaping food lovers and with every lip-smacking dish that she prepares so effortlessly, she wins a step further into everyone’s heart.
I once tried my hand at making aaloo ke parathe. With great effort I somehow managed to give some of the parathas a certain shape that somewhat resembled the map of Australia while the others assumed the shape of an Alphonso mango!
Everyone at home was informed that I was making this favourite dish along with the accompaniment of my cousin from Delhi. They gathered at the dining table and waited eagerly for ‘our parathes’.
My first paratha on the frying pan was a resounding success. It took on a nice brownish tinge as I virtually patted myself on the back. Suddenly, an idea struck me. Instead of simply turning over the paratha on its back with the aid of the flat cooking spoon, I decided to hold the handle of the frying pan and flip the paratha on its back. Without adult supervision, I resolved to try this on my own.
I firmly held the handle of the pan, and as I tossed the ill-fated paratha in the air, instead of landing on the frying pan, it lunged straight towards the sink adjacent to the gas stove and landed squarely on it. It soaked up the water droplets underneath and was thus rendered uneatable!
I wasn’t angry, I was annoyed and upset that my first assignment on cooking attained me a zero score.
Of course everyone shared a good laugh over this incident but they insisted that I shouldn’t give up hope. This was just the beginning. And this was 10 years back.
My sister and I continued with the rest of the parathas and this time albeit their creative shapes, they turned out to be considerably tasteful and eatable.
Unfortunately, I could never learn to love cooking. My parents were deeply concerned and apprehensive of any family that would accept a non-cooking bride! And being away from home for nearly ten years, I had minimal opportunities to learn the art of cooking.
So now, the question that stared them at the face was – whether or not to teach me the minimum cooking methods and techniques. While the very thought of cooking used to give me the jitters, I now knew that there was no easy escape from this persecution.