“For a great marriage, men must cook” – this headline of an article which appeared in ‘The Hindu’ caught my attention. You can read that here. The piece articulates that men must use food and cooking to build strong enduring bonds with their wives for peaceful and mutually fulfilling marriages. It set me thinking. Not that my marriage was wobbling but could do with some elements of surprise I thought. When was the last time I went to the kitchen to cook? If you discount the instances of preparing tea, rustling up dosas or putting together your breakfast cereals, it’s been a while. Really a long while.
My mind flashbacked to the time before marriage when as a bachelor, I did cook. My rendezvous with cooking started while in Mumbai just as I got into my 1st job at Godrej. I lived with my elder brother who was also a bachelor that time and our cooking experiments commenced. Mostly we cooked our own dinners on weekdays and on weekends the lunch. When we felt bored or we got late, we ate outside. The understanding was that whoever reached early will start the preparation like cutting the vegetables and keep the rice ready while the other will join to finish doing the rest of the stuff. Unlike many would think, cooking was interesting and exciting. Particularly if you end up cooking something which was palatable (when you cook, almost everything is extremely palatable – that’s a different thing :) :) )
Being a South Indian and a Tambram in that, our choice was limited to making the sambhars, rasams and the vegetables. As a strategy (OMG, isn’t this word the most misused word these days???), we decided that we will keep repeating the same till we perfect it. So I think we must have made rasam for atleast one full week and may be sambhar for the next 10 days :) :). When we completed 1st quarter of cooking the end results were not bad. We started adventuring to next level of difficulty in the cooking game – I mean more exotic dishes,.. post that. So as self-cooking continued, one started losing weight ( :) ) and became lean and mean.
But from the time marriage happened, it was time for the enthusiastic wife to take over. She was also learning the ropes and it was best for me to keep away from the kitchen completely. Coming back to the present, when I read the article it struck on me – Why not enter the kitchen again and surprise the wife? Though the wife knew that I was cooking earlier she never got a chance to endure my cooking. So last Saturday morning I grandly announced to the wife that I will cook a full meal that day and that she should just relax. And one important pre-condition was that she should not be seen anywhere close to the kitchen till I finish. (You know otherwise what happens :) ) Though reluctant, she complied.
Since the mission was also to impress the wife, I decided to keep the menu simple with some staple stuff like rasam (yes) and potato podimas (yes ofcourse) and get away easily. Little did I realize that life is not so easy if you are out of touch. I started with keeping the rice in the cooker along with the paruppu (dal) which is needed for the rasam. As I reached out for the dabbas, I could see many dabbas with different paruppus. Now which is the dal which goes into the rasam was the question. After a round of hinky pinky ponkey and applying bit of logic concluded that it is indeed tuvar dal which is the ingredient. :)
20 mins into boiling the rice in the cooker – there is no sign of the whistle in the cooker. Lessons from Mechanical engineering on what happens when a safety valve malfunctions unnecessarily kept coming up. Did I put the gasket and other fundamental questions arose. After another futile 20 mins. I decided to force open the cooker to see what the heck is going on. If you have a faint idea of what forcing open a cooker means – you will understand what would have happened. The dal had overflowed, the rice had overflowed and it all resembled a Dal kichdi!!! And the kitchen- remnants of modern art!!! So the next thing was operation clean up (without making much noise ofcourse so that the wife doesn’t realize what’s going on) and a repeat of keeping the rice and dal again to cook. This time took extra care to see that water is not too much and all. After waiting with bated breath for another 10 mins. the whistle blew and “operation rice” went through smoothly. I did a whistle podu for myself. :) :) Followed then with making the potato vegetable and rasam. Having completely forgotten the measurements of salt, masala,.. several trials and more errors ensued. Fortunately no much adventure in making the rasam and the potato vegetable. I was almost done.
After serving all what I rustled up, it was judgment time. The rice had to be cooked twice. While the 1st time suffered due to excess water, the second time was less of water and hence was bit Vethu Vethu (dry). The rasam was fine though it could have done with more rasam powder and be spicier. The potato vegetable was extra salty. But for these “small” hiccups the experience was worth it!!! The daughter surprisingly found it tasty and ate the food without much ado. The wife was more generous and said it was not bad at all. And she said, “You are cooking really well, why don’t you do this every Saturday???”
Oh man, that author’s prediction was really working :) :)
Toon Courtesy: The Hindu