Monday, August 29, 2005

Pot-Boiler

And so I stood there inspecting the carnage ; the knife in my hand was conspicuously dripping red. I could see my fingerprints all over the handle........
It was too late now!! Not that I had wanted to do it , but the deed had to be done. There were noises from the next room; howls of pain, of horror and absolute disgust...I called out but there was no reply…. Perhaps my feeble voice was drowned out by sources more powerful!! I could not just let it be. Had to do something about it. And so I went over there; knife in hand…
I saw him down there. He half turned around; as I came up behind him.He saw the knife in my hand. Tears streamed down his face as he looked up at me.…………………………………………………!!



And so I asked my roomie " Bugger, I’m done cutting the tomatoes; have u done the onions???
" Yeah, just through" he handed over the plate of cut onions. He then took another swig of the beer and offered it to me.
" Doesn’t look like Arsenal will win this one; can you believe Henry missed so many clear chances........."
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Well, people- sorry for the anti-climax ; this was a Sunday evening scene 3 years after had I started working and moved out of the hostel. It had been a long journey till then…. And since then too..
In the hostel (read about it in my previous post http://o3.indiatimes.com/jonagil/archive/2005/04/22/102554.aspx ) there was no need to cook or rather it was like no opportunity to light a fire- let it be for food, cigarettes or arson-it was a grave crime leading to expulsion. Stoves were banned and though they say you can fry an egg using the back of an electric iron ; I didn’t want to try that and later walk around wearing clothes that smelled like scrambled eggs. Especially in a Gujju college ! Anyway all good things come to an end; my MBA got over and I had to move out of the hostel and look for alternate accommodation..
Took a flat in Kandivli with a first set of roomies who were not too proficient in cooking. One had his fiancée staying nearby and hence would return every night only after dinner. The other was an "incomplete evolution" Neanderthal who did not believe in cooking particularly. He would have happily have uncooked bacon or raw eggs straight out of the refrigerator. Some mornings when he actually decided to try toasting bread I used to wake up dreaming that I was a Jew in Auschwitz and just got herded into the gas chamber.
Later on, I moved to another flat where I had a roomie who was a Hotel Management graduate. The best thing about him was that if persuaded with Scotch and some Pink Floyd he would even make excellent gourmet Chicken-au-gratin. Anyway once a lucky girl hooked this cook (don’t know whether he cooks still) ; he moved out and I was robbed of both a roommate and cook….
And so I moved to another flat in Borivli this time with a mallu pal. And so Mumbai being the melting pot of cultures I decided to get a melting pot (or rather a frying pan) myself. And a gas stove, with the necessary utensils…
I wanted to try rice-my staple food; so got a cooker; after the first few attempts where either I had to have teeth-challenging go-natural semi-cooked rice and some other times when the maid had to scrape the burnt remnants of what was rice off the cooker- I learnt to make rice which looked smelled and tasted edible.
That was just the beginning. Soon I could make everything. Well let me clarify I could make anything with tomatoes n onions. For me it was simple- Take any of eggs, fish, prawns, (mom used to send by courier these 2 in pickled format) or even cauliflower (well I liked cauliflower but I had to first butcher it into pieces. The sheer cruelty of it made me stay non-veg :-))). Put it into the pan with with tomatoes n onions. Add some chill powder n go easy on salt because if you add too much you cant do anything about it but the reverse is compensate-able. If the resultant concoction becomes too spicy, just add ketchup; if its bland, have another drink to numb your senses! I tried it on myself and my roomie too. You would be wondering what happened to him. He survived it !!! And lives to this day with most faculties intact. And guess what? He even blogs!
Armed with this confidence of being able to cook I went to London on a project. Where I found cooking an entirely different ball game…. For starters there was this wierd microwave oven, which I couldn’t quite comprehend. And the damn contraption did not come with a manual. A friend once put a raw egg inside the microwave expecting a boiled egg in 2 minutes. Accordingly; she took out the egg after 5 min and was admiring it in her hand when BANG! It exploded!!!! All over her face! Absolutely inexplicably! I gave theories like maybe the supermarket had stocked dinosaur eggs from Jurassic times or maybe Harry Potter had pointed a wand and charmed it with an "Ovum Explodum" egg-exploding hex on it. Her friends told her that it improved her complexion considerably; (now all of you female readers please don’t try this at home) she was reported to be completely off anything involving eggs for a few months after this….
Wary of microwaves I decided to try some cooking on the cooking range which had a heating element instead of fire.. After some investigation I figured out which was on and which was off. And once it turned red it meant you could heat food on it. So one evening I put something on the stove and went over to the living room with a beer in hand contemplating on the wide variety of TV shows we were deprived of back home.. And then an eerie noise filled the apartment- something which sounded like a hovering flying saucer or like Godzilla in pain. In a few seconds I heard a knock on the door amidst the din. I opened the door slowly expecting to find a little green martian. Instead there stood the apartment caretaker who informed me not too kindly that my smoke detector (which was not quite calibrated to account for Indian Cooking) had triggered off the fire alarm and woke up the apartment complex. Thank god it was not nowadays. I would have instead stared into a team of London Police Squad who would have proceeded to shoot me rightaway without further ado for being a suspected bomber. Anyway after this unfortunate incident , when anyone of us started cooking it was mandatory to have someone tall, cupping the smoke detector through out the process.and to have all the windows open even if all were freezing inside.
Thankfully in Bangalore life is much simpler; God’s own cuisine from God’s own country is so widely available that my cooking exploits are not many or too frequent…Maybe the neighbors are destined to be lucky or maybe I was just a flaash in the pan!
Bon Appetit!
(Hope you liked this one. Am still managing just one post a month..Trying to do better than that. Anyway do leave a comment and mail in if you'd like any of my recipes at flaashgordon@gmail.com . Also put in a note if u'd like me to notify you when i have a new post
btw Was inspired by Silverine's post “ “ Teaching a guy to cook...