Eleven years back, when I came to Chennai, the only cooking I knew, was to boil water – that too if someone else lighted the stove for me.
I used to stay with a group of girls in an apartment near Thiruvanmiyur Beach. We used to cook dinner at home. The golden rule was that the first one to reach home should cook. Since my cooking knowledge was subzero, I used to ensure that I never reached home first :D. I would gladly do any other chore – like washing dishes, laying out the table, cleaning the kitchen – anything, other than cooking.
The first time I had to cook was when Miss M and Miss A, our primary cooks, had to go to some wedding reception. I came home first and was terrorized to find that I had to cook for myself and three other girls. After making frantic phone calls to friends and family, I decided to make a simple dal and brinjal (eggplant) saute to go with rice. As I started cutting vegetables, I really had a feeling that it will all end well.
I still remember vividly standing in the house, which was full of smoke, and offering the girls to buy pizza for them. The brinjal was completely burnt and I had no idea how to open the cooker. The girls, bless them, helped me out. That night we had dal with burnt brinjal in it, along with scrambled eggs.
And I bonded forever with them :)
I learnt the basics of cooking by watching the girls and slowly my level of confidence started rising. Soon after the brinjal-dal incident, one of the girls who was cooking at that time, had a visitor. She was making cucumber sambar. She asked me to cook the vegetable while she attended her visitor.
When she came to the kitchen later, she found me shallow frying the cucumbers in oil(sauteing) instead of cooking them in water!!! She laughed for a long long time before she told me the correct way to do it.
Another incident that comes to my mind is when I was making sambar. We used to make ‘cooker sambar’ where in you put all the ingredients – dal, vegetables and the tamarind extract- in the cooker and let it all pressure cook together. I was told to add water till the vegetable submerges. Well, I added an entire cooker full of water – and why? Cause the bloody vegetables float and I had to add water till it submerges!!!! Good god, the laughter at the house was loudest for this one!!!
You would expect me to pick up cooking in a few years time. But another incident that comes to my mind is the time when Miss M had gone abroad for 5-6 months. I had developed a huge love for cooking and I would lovingly cook for the new set of girls who had just moved in at that time. We were still following the ‘first come, first cook’ policy, so the girls would try to reach home first before me so that they can have a decent dinner. One of them even took half day off once, to reach home before me to stop me from cooking the onasadya :D.
And now, here I am – writing a food blog!!! Ironical, don’t you think?