It is said that the beeline to someone’s heart is through the stomach…an analogy to the lack of interest in cooking can make you unlucky in love. Well, even if you are not an exceptional cook, you can still win others by adding the most indispensable ingredient in your cooking and that is a pinch of love. I think this secret component has helped me evolve from comfort cooking to more indulgent cooking (so my family certifies).
In bygone times, mothers started training their daughters quite early in this art for the new house where she would go after marriage. The adage ,”seekh lo aage kaam aayega” ( better learn, it’ll help in future) still reverberates sometimes in my mind…but the times have changed… it’s not the girls only, it’s important to teach our boys too. Without a speck of doubt, the best chefs of the world are men who dominate the culinary world. Cooking in good old days was more culture based. As a little girl I used to enjoy cooking with my mom…though making a mess most of the time but in the bargain, learning traditional Indian dishes. It was simple, day to day food and not the fancy intercontinental cuisines. A super simple hing, jeera tadka (asafoetida, cumin tempering) on arhar dal (cooked lentil) always tasted heavenly.
So when I came to the “new house” my struggle with ladles, pots and pans started. Needless to mention, at this point of time, I was reasonably in good hold of the basics of cooking( thanks to my mom’s futuristic vision). In the first few days only in my maiden voyage, I made a quantum leap from a vegetarian family delights to a non-vegetarian household’s pleasures (my skills as a science student…handling dissections, probably helped me here). My first few trial-and-error attempts at cooking non-veg dishes turned out to be efficacious, which spiked my interest in experimenting new recipes from cuisines around the globe.
Unlike these days where you have a plethora of recipes in YouTube videos or Cooking channels…I remember I was very fond of collecting recipes from various magazines like Femina or Savvy and intrigued by their beautiful presentations, I always plucked these pages which added to my cooking repertoire in a file. I still have those, black and red colored diaries in which I used to often note down interesting and new methods of preparing some mouthwatering dishes. I can’t ascertain how many did I actually try out but till date they are my bible to cooking.
Like success is always directly proportional to the opinions of the critics…my, dear husband, played the role of a sharpshooter in my life. Being a foodie with epicurean taste buds, his sense of grading my efforts on a scale of 10 has often bemused me but in a way has helped me to enhance the taste of the food which I could never taste myself ever(being a vegetarian). My children aroused a drive in me to attempt global cuisines and desserts (for younger generation, normal is boring). This is how, I started indulging in global delicacies…their compliments were like music to my ears and their constant request for their favorite grub, kept the passion alive in me.
Not having undergone any formal training in cooking, my interest in reading books on cookery, observing and taking ideas from the fine dining restaurants, hotels and the expertise reflected by the presenters of various cooking sites have certainly helped me grow. I do not go by the book, I like to experiment with tastes and texture and formulate changes to create my own personal recipes as per our taste and mood. I think most important is to enjoy what you do. The very process of cooking can nourish your psychological well-being and make your soul happy.
Other than mere cooking, how it is to be served, the accompaniments, the cutlery, the ambience….all makes a lot of difference. The art of presenting food in an attractive way helps to pull all five senses together to create an unforgettable experience. A delicious and aesthetically presented dish could lighten up even the darkest of days in just a flick. Whenever we host a party in our house, I try to make it a simple and enduring combination of good food, great company and eclectic ambience…by decorating the dining table with fresh flowers, light-scented candles…sprucing up the sitting area with dim lamps and playing lilting music in the background. For me, it is very important to keep personal preferences of our guests in mind before drafting a menu.
Personally speaking, food is a repository of memories. In my childhood days, the country food was the only significant comestible cuisine in our lives and due to Indian heritage our taste buds were attuned to only spice packed flavors of pepper, cloves, cinnamon or saffron. Indian cuisine is diverse, with the never-ending range of foods, the ubiquitous tandoori dishes of the North or the steamed South Indian delicacies, the feisty and fiery Rajasthani dishes or the aromatic and rich Mughlai curries or biryanis, the vibrant Kashmiri waswan or multi-course Bengali dishes….are a hot favorite all over the world. Now-a-days people have developed love for exquisite food of different countries and want to see the world cuisines on their plate. Our palates love the flamboyant spicy chilies of Mexican food, Ratatouille to French soup to creme brûlée have enticed people of all ages, Italian cuisine an all time favorite…makes people drool over the burst of cheese in their mouth, fusion of perfect herbs and right balance of hot,sweet and sour taste of Thai cuisine is relished by everyone. With the rare and exotic ingredients easily available in the markets, cooking has become uncomplicated for those who have a penchant for cooking.
Food is and has remained the most essential part of our lives…around which revolves our everyday routine. What comforts me is the delight I see in the eyes of my family members with their taste buds satiated and their stomachs purring contentment. Trying out new recipes serves as a creative outlet that helps in stimulating my senses.
Cook with love, serve with joy!!!