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K is for Kitchen Tales.
It was a long time back. I was in my early-teens. One day out of the blue, mother decided that it was the right time for me, to learn some kitchen tasks. I hated the idea. It meant restricting my playing time and after school gossip sessions with friends. I ignored her calls.
One day my nemeses caught me. Mom fell sick. She needed help in the kitchen as well as in managing the two demanding younger siblings. She asked me to knead the dough for making chapatis. I half-filled the flat-bottomed wide hipped sturdy brass platter (Parat) with wheat flour. Poured enough water in a pan and started the process, following mom’s instructions. However, things went awry very soon. In my haste to do it fast, I poured a lot of water and messed it up. The whole thing turned into watery lumps. When mother saw it, she was angry, of course. She had to mix enough dry flour to turn it into right consistency for rolling chapatis. The incident gave me relief for some time more.
However, in due course of time I did learn to knead the dough perfectly.
The second culinary adventure was my foray into preparing a vegetable dish for the first time. We used to have zucchini type (green tory) vegetable growing in our kitchen garden (my father was very fond of growing vegetables). Mother was busy elsewhere and asked me to cook the dish. The initiative on my part was the result of nonstop lectures on the necessity of learning cooking. Of course, she left instructions. I started with roasting the minced onions in ladle full of cooking oil. After adding seasoning, the chunks of zucchini were put into the pan and were mixed properly. Very soon, I could see that the the whole thing started sticking to the bottom. In my anxiety, I totally forgot to add water. The flame was high. What did I do then? I poured another two ladleful of cooking oil in a jiffy and kept stirring. The dish was prepared somehow but it was soaked with excess oil. Dear mother had to very carefully; drain the excess oil before serving.
After many such disasters and funny adventures, I did learn some of the basics of cooking.
During my University days, dear mother never asked me to cook. I just focused on my studies.
The real test came after marriage. My darling half had no clue about anything concerning the kitchen. Not even preparing tea was his forte (which he occasionally does now). He had returned from abroad after doing his doctorate, a couple of months before our wedding. He had joined a state university. I got myself transferred from Gov. College for Boys Chandigarh to a Patiala College to join him. Soon after, he invited a few of his colleagues for dinner. I prepared an elaborate meal, in spite of my yet limited skills.
According to pre-plan, the last thing to be cooked was rice pulao. I screwed it up badly. It should have been al dente. Every grain of rice is supposed to stand singly. In my case, more water and high flame turned it into a sticky gruel. I cautiously called my hubby and explained to him the dilemma. A scientist as he is, he had an idea. We transferred the contents into the rice platter and placed it on the bed under fast whirling ceiling fan, in the hope that some water would evaporate. It’s a fiasco, no doubt.
During our next visit to mom’s place, she happily taught me all the intricacies of cooking perfect rice pulao.
Friends,welcome here as always!