As a child, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five novel series was an absolute favourite. I loved the characters and adored Timmy. He was (and is) my dream dog.
My favourite part in all of these books – apart from the adventures of these oh-so-daring kids – was the meal times! Fresh scones, slabs of cake, ginger buns, potatoes baked in jacket, sandwiches, and lemonade made my mouth water. Blyton’s other books too had protagonists feast on food like potted meat, shortbread and fruit cake with almonds that sounded so exotic to the child that I was (some of it still does #honestconfession).
I distinctly remember that when play acting any of the adventures of Famous Five with cousins or friends, I would insist on planning an elaborate picnic where we were to pretend eat the scrumptious food!
Back then, our knowledge of foreign food was limited to cakes and cookies bought from the local bakery on special occasions. Cucumber sandwiches with oodles of butter made for picnics were ultimate deliciousness. And the cake that Maa baked for our birthdays. Yummmmmm… I still remember hovering around the oven, taking deep breaths to capture the smell of vanilla, wishing I could smell like that yumminess.
Highlights of summer holiday trips to the grandparents’ homes were munching on farm-fresh fruits, watching the villagers fish in the pond to feed the city kids (us sisters and the cousins) some fresh fish and hogging on piping hot savouries from the shop around the corner. The parents say that blissful expression on my face when given food remains unchanged to date.
This tête-à-tête with food has been enriched during my travels where I have tasted the strangest and the tastiest.
Sadly, that experience stuttered and stalled like a toy forced to work on dying batteries when I entered the kitchen. While I could manage the baking and throw together some pasta or instant noodles, the finer aspects of cooking escaped me. Cooking meals would turn into dangerous endeavours that resulted in passable food and a kitchen in shambles.
All the more ironic since my cooking lessons started under my maternal grandmother’s loving eye. In her domain, the gas placed on the ground with her seated on a footstool, surrounded by her grandchildren, she would whip up delicacies while regaling us with mythological stories. This is where she taught her grandchildren to bind the flour and make chapattis*. Such was the excitement when she roasted my first almost-round chapatti!
In honour of this memory and the need to learn some more cooking, I took it upon myself to master (or try to) some cooking under the tutelage of the best chef ever, my mother. Family and friends pitched in with their customised recipes. And then there recipes shared by renowned chefs and bloggers. The process has been slow but encouraging. There have also been instances when inspired by my travels, I’ve attempted to recreate what I have eaten. This with ample help from the internet and experienced cooks who share their recipes.
With so many tips and much learning, I felt it was imperative that I share wisdom with others. After all, if I can manage it so can you! So this is it.
This space is where I intend to share all that I learn, the difficulty level, tips from the teachers and my goof-ups (or not) when I try my hand at cooking.
So let’s get cracking and cooking, shall we?
Pssst… a few encouraging tales and some assurance that I am not the only one struggling would be nice. Very, very nice.
* chapattis – unleavened flatbread
photos: Rapti Bhaumick