Let’s cook – part 1
I realise this is going to be the least expected post from my on my blog. It’s been a while since my last post and although a lot of things have happened since July 2014, I’m choosing to not do a consolidated “updates” post but a very specific post about food I’ve cooked in the recent past.
Why cooking? Because I got opportunities to try it out, I guess?
Before marriage (Aug ’14), it’s mostly been my mother’s dinners and eating out for lunch and occasionally breakfasts at home – especially during the summer holidays when mother is at home. After marriage, things changed. My wife put a lot of effort in taking care of the affairs – laundry, cleaning, cooking – at home and going out to her day job. I thought I’d contribute more than I would’ve liked to but couldn’t. Partly due to my own laziness or the fact that my wife was quicker and better at this.
I recall making my first chicken biryani in the first few months using a recipe from the Hawkins pressure cooker recipe book. It came out well but lacked salt. It even made it to my wife’s Facebook page which garnered attention from all the fathers in her circle.
I later on tried simpler spaghetti pastas and even a bland chicken pot roast. We soon got hold of a OTG (oven toaster grill) which helped us make breads at home and vegetable and poultry/meat/fish grills. They were great to make and eat.
Lately, in the past year I’ve noticed a lot more men share and comment on recipes on a popular Indian automotive forum. Probably surprising to some but it all seems kind of related in an esoteric way. The same automotive forum also hosts threads on topics such as weight loss, body building, Bangalore traffic woes and many other topics which wouldn’t “fit” naturally in a forum about automobiles.
I saw how some members had taken it up on themselves to prepare food quite regularly at home to ensure that they eat healthy and were getting better at it.
The first recipe which I tried out from one of the posts there was a dum biryani. This was in mid-June. Even my sister liked it.
It came out really well. So much so that even our maid commented that it was the best she’s tasted so far. An important note is that we’ve become a big fan FreshToHome and for most non-veg dishes we order the raw ingredients in advance from here.
I tried making it again, this time with white-basmati rice and it was still good.
In second week of this September, I tried preparing a mutton curry in my quest to make something similar to the kind of curries we had begun to like in the nearby Prashanth Hotel. The results were quite good. In the following few days, the mother and wife tried cooking it by themselves when I was away on travel.
Before the mutton curry week, I had tried to prepare almond biscotti inspired by a post in the automotive forum. It came out quite well athough wife didn’t like it much.
Last Sunday, my brother-in-law came over and I was excited to cook again. This time, it was a Malabar-style chicken kurma. It turned out be so good that none of us could control ourselves with the portions and the word has reached that everybody in this house cooks good food.
What have I learnt with these experiments? One, many recipes when followed with care come out really well. This means better hygiene during preparation, better ingredients, better sizing of spices.
We’re so used to eating out or eating quick staple food at home that taking the Sunday out to prepare an elaborate meal has taken a backseat. Or vacation even. A lot of eateries outside indulge in heavy usage of spices or unhygienically handled raw ingredients (such as onions cut with unclean hands) which could end up causing a week-long scene of discomfort and anti-biotics. Thanks to FreshToHome, we get to use good, anti-biotic free raw poultry and meat. This is very easy for me to test because if I eat anti-biotic rich chicken outside, my eyebrows swell up quite easily. We’ve even gone to the step of growing some simple herbs such as mint and coriander up at the terrace.
Before this, wife would cook on most weekends trying out recipes from this cookbook about food from across Tamil Nadu.
Two, it’s de-stressing. Say you’re a salaryman commuting to and fro every single day to the IT corridor and back. You lose maybe two hours or more per day. When you take that one Sunday to focus on a project at home – such as cooking a nice dish – it gives you time to unwind and do something else apart from work or commuting.
Three, you can see the happiness in your family members or guests.
I’ll probably add more and link more recipes in future parts of this series. If hadn’t tried to cook, this post wouldn’t have made it on my blog. It’d been something my mother or my wife have always been taking care of. In a way, I’m dedicating this to all family members who’ve cooked for me.