Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Kitchen Adventures

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Aug 2017 

It is that time of the year again. The time when your home becomes a house. The usual noises and sounds disappear. No dropping of your kid to school, no one to say bye to when you leave to office and no one comes running to you with cries of joy when you return home. It is that time of the year for all those expats who are lucky enough to have their family with them to empathize with the vast majority who do not get to be around their family for a considerable part of their life.

School holidays in Middle East forces many like me to be a ‘bachelor’ when the family heads back to their home countries. I know a few who consider this as regaining the long-lost-freedom. There are others like me who live these days like a zombie. All of a sudden, life seems to lose its charm. Somehow the energy levels become all-time low.

I do try to catch-up a bit on certain aspects for which I don’t get time otherwise. I get to open our library and say hi to all those books which were untouched for a long time. While catching up on these things it is also the time of the year when I get to do a bit of culinary experiments.

I should thank my mom for teaching me the basics of cooking long back so that I don’t have to depend on restaurants for survival. I am a strong believer that both boys and girls in our families should be taught these skills right from the age when they are old enough to handle kitchen duties. Though I am not the one who don the role of master chef in our family, I’m quite sure that my wife will vouch for the meaningful assistance she gets from me in the kitchen.

With the family away and I get to handle the kitchen all for myself, my adventure mode sets in. The most recent attempt was to prepare a dish with green gram. Fortunately it turned out well, at least good enough for me to survive for a few days. I’ve to be honest and admit that this is not the case always.

I still recollect one such bitter experience a couple of years back. A poor cabbage was the victim that day. I decided to try a traditional Kerala recipe for cabbage with a mix of coconut. A nicely chopped cabbage was ready in a few minutes. All the rest of ingredients were lined up and waiting for their turn. The pan was heated up and preparation began. One by one each of the ingredients found its way into the pan. I began to feel proud already. A bunch of items a few hours back that was sitting idle on a supermarket shelf is about to turn into the world’s best cabbage dish! It was nothing less than magic!

The dish was almost ready and the aroma filled the air with the traditional Kerala recipe saluting me for a job well done. I tasted the end-product and was quite confident that both my wife and mom, if around, would’ve given me an award for the preparation. That exact moment was when the devil put an idea in my brain. It was inspired by one of the regular culinary columns from a popular women’s magazine published back home in Kerala. It was a column by a well-known media person who loved experimenting with his dishes.

The thought that I’ve proved my culinary skills with a good dish was not enough. How do I differentiate myself from the lesser mortals like my wife and mom? Needless to say that such thoughts are the after-effects of leading a corporate life. I looked around for that X-factor to differentiate my dish. My eyes got stuck on a bright yellow color. It was an innocent looking lemon lying around with no connection whatsoever with the cabbage recipe. But the creativity in me overruled logic.

Promptly I cut the lemon and squeezed it all over my brilliant dish. I ensured that the lemon reached every corner of the dish. It was time to taste my invention-of-the-century. A spoonful of the dish and my world of pride came tumbling all the way down! It was a disaster to say the least.

A lesson well learned but I’m happy that it didn’t stop me from trying more. This is also a reminder to all of you out there that nothing is out-of-bounds for you in your home. Try your hand on everything. Be happy if it turns out well. Try again if it doesn’t.

My experiments in our kitchen continues even today. God bless you all! 

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