For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been staying with some relatives. For most of this period, my aunt has been out of town, and so there’s no “natural choice” to cook (my 24-year old female cousin has put total NED wrt cooking, and so has my uncle). So my uncle arranged for a professional cook. Unfortunately she’s been so irregular that on a number of days we’ve had to eat bread for breakfast (if you are a South Indian, bread is the last thing you’ll want to eat for breakfast; there are so many other awesome options).
On the other hand, it’s been bugging me that I’ve been bugging these people too much by staying on in their place for longer than I had initially planned for (i’ll talk about househunting in another post), and so I should do something to “compensate” for this. My first thought was to help out my 20-year old cousin, who is writing CAT later this year. However, he spends most of his time in his hostel, so there isn’t much impact that I can have.
I love cooking. I may not love it as much as Madhu Menon, but I still like to cook. The only other time when I had an opportunity to cook on a consistent basis was when I was in bombay 2 years back. But a floyd job, and a floyd house meant that I put full NED, and ended up just heating MTR ready to eat stuff. And yeah, I like to experiment.
Putting two and two and two together, I volunteered to cook. My uncle was initially sceptical but most of the scepticism vanished after I had made onion rice on Tuesday night. Then, he figured that the cook he had arranged for could come only in the evenings, and since then I’ve assumed responsibility for breakfast. Uppit (upma) is one thing that I’m really good at making, so I proceeded to make that yesterday. And as usual, did a splendid job. Then, this morning I decided to make poha (avalakki). For the first t ime in my life.
I had called up my mother last night and asked for basic directions. Based on this, I set out to work in the kitchen this morning. The bad news is that it didn’t come out too well. The good news is that everything that could possibly go wrong with my cooking went wrong this morning. So hopefully the law of averages will mean that I’ll get back to making excellent food from tomorrow. Here is what was wrong with today’s poha:
- The poha was soaked too much. So it was a bit soggy
- When I boiled the potato, I didn’t remove all of the water. This ended up making the poha even more soggy
- I didn’t put enough oil in the pan when I was boiling the onions. Hence I’d to keep them boiling for too long. A part of the onion got a little burnt. Not that burnt, but it went brown – and looked bad.
- There wasn’t enough salt
- There wasn’t enough sourness in the poha. I made amends on my plate by adding a bit of lemon juice, but the others refused to heed my advice.
- There was no coriander or curry leaves. But this isn’t my fault, since there were no coriander or curry leaves in the house.
- There was no coconut – which is so essential to give that sweetness to the poha. Again not my fault – there was no coconut in the house
- In a flash of inspiration, I had decided to put tomato. It ended up making the thing even more soggy, but not sour
- There was no chana dal or urad dal in the house. Hence I didn’t add it in the seasoning thing. Again not my fault but it took away some taste from the poha.
My uncle decided to ignore all these faults and cribbed that the poha was too spicy. Yes, I’d underestimated the power of the Delhi chilli and put a bit too much, along with the usual quota of the red dry Guntur Chilli. But then, this was the least of the faults of the poha.
Anyways, despite the disaster, my uncle has agreed to my suggestion that I cook pongal for tomorrow’s breakfast. I found some MTR vada mix in the fridge, so probably I’ll make some Vada also. And hopefully all my bad whatever got exhausted in today’s poha and I’ll continue to make awesome food tomorrow onwards.