Friday, January 25, 2008


"Top 10 Reasons I Hate to Cook"

"Heat changes food; change it the right way and you have success!"

In the 21 years I have been in India, under the watchful eyes of my family, I have rarely stepped foot in the kitchen. The times that I did, were either to help my mom bake a cake (that is the only way I could convince her to bake one), or make myself some eggs (when I was old enough to operate the burners). My knowledge of cooking and all things gastronomic started and ended with eggs, perhaps the odd cup of tea, though I hardly recollect it.

The US brought with it a whole world of new experiences, amongst which was the compulsion to cook; and for a beginner to cook for 5 people is reason enough to hate it. But somehow, defying all logic (as I tend to do), cooking grew on me, though I can't make the simplest Daal and Rice. The rice, I have gotten a hang of, thanks to the microwave oven. Daals... let's not even go there.

But as with everything else, I have my theories as to why I started enjoying what I should probably have despised. Cooking, they say is therapeutic, and a stress buster. I certainly agree with that point of view, especially when I cook for myself. I don't understand other people, when they say they can't cook for themselves. I find the effort I put in, makes the meal/dish taste that much better. Unfortunately, cooking for other people, means keeping in mind their individual tastes and curbing your natural instincts, which robs the fun from it. But as my grandmother says, those who love eating better learn to cook well!!

I am hardly a master of the culinary world, though with the introduction to Good Eats, by my good friend Ashwin, I feel like a genius. Though limited by hardware, I find myself willing to put in that extra effort in order to compensate for the lack of mechanized beasts that simplify the prep. My cooking skills are basic. The need for instruction is over-whelming. But considering it has been barely 18 months since I started (even less if we are looking for quality), I am well satisfied. This post is looking back at all the experiments, some good and some gone terribly wrong, and a big Thank You to the people that have ingested the bad with the good.

American Born, Confused Chinese
This was my first attempt at a "recipe". A simple lemon, garlic, ginger and soy based dish with chicken, this soon became a favorite with the tangy-sweet loving simpletons.

With The Good, Comes Bad
This absolute disaster occured Dec 2006. Armed with a sub-par recipe (created by yours truly) and little know-how, this Fish-Mustard-Pea concoction is my biggest disaster till date. Barely edible (though I survived it), this dish was probably my best looking. The best tasting, for sure, is Beer Barbecue Chicken Fried Rice.

Tandoori Chicken and Pulao
This dish turned out to be far simpler than expected. Maestro Chef Yogesh Pai has perfected his spicy variant of this popular barbecue dish over the months while Vinayak's Pulao makes for the perfect unassuming accompaniment. Serve with loads of yogurt and lemon. Keep the fire extinguisher handy.

This Good Eats method (season 7, Ep 8) emphasizes fast cooking for nuclear families. A meal for as many as the oven can hold in half an hour. Unfortunately for me, the cooking alone took me about 45 minutes. I blame it on my oven though. The results, however, were scintillating and far beyond my expectations.

Hail Caesar
A modified (throw in everything you see) version of Caesar Salad, with chicken and Ranch dressing replacing the raw eggs. Olive oil did enhance flavor, but she turned out to be less photogenic.

House of the Rising Bun

Baking is probably what the wise were talking about when they said, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Though it has little to do with the stomach. Just the smell of fresh baked bread or cookies makes the stoutest men into putty. These cinnamon rolls were

relished without the cream cheese frosting. A lemon-ginger experiment was too good to be true. You just had to be there...

Seafood Extravaganza
A fish curry (bangla style) gone wrong (thanks to sweetened coconut milk) was a blessing in disguise. The dish was meant to be spicy, but the sweetness added a new dimension to an already brilliant dish. I had to lick my plate clean. The shrimp appetizers: Garlic Shrimp with Parsley, Kerala Chili Prawns

The Chicken is an egg's way to make more eggs.

Eggs... Spinach, garlic, spaghetti sauce and CHEESE. Now available in Omlette and Scrambled variants.

Ham Salad, Mutton cutlets and the simple 'ol scrambled eggs, pepper and salt.

The Butcher Shop:
He must be a leg man!

Organ-ised Butchery

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Cookies.


Anonymous said...

I look at cooking slightly differently, not theraupetic or whatever, not stress busting etc etc. I look at it as a job. Simple. I firmly believe that we are what we eat and cooking the right way is important if we have to be healthy. That is why I don't hate cooking although it gets tiring.

The Depressed Doormat said...

Thanks for commenting Nita, I guess that comes from having to cook for the family as well. It becomes a responsibility rather than a hobby.

The Depressed Doormat said...

Avoid fruit and nuts. You are what you eat.
- Jim Davis

final_transit said...

I disliked doing anything in the kitchen (incl baking cake) until the point I moved out. I struggled for few months but now cooking is a delightful experience. When I was 21, I swore I'd never cook :P

Me said...

good god!
you say you cant cook??
those cookies look delicious! :)

The Depressed Doormat said...

@Final Transit: Thanks for visiting and taking the time out to comment! I've always enjoyed what ever little responsibility I was given in the kitchen as a child, and I think I enjoy it for now, as long as I don't look at it as a chore, which Nita mentioned in her comment.

As for you, I guess the saying, "Never say never" certainly holds true...

@Me: I did not say I can't cook. I said my skills are basic. That, unfortunately, is a fact. Most of the dishes, were following recipes. That is not too difficult if you have the desire to cook.

I hope that someday, I will exceed the recipe stage of cooking and be able to venture into the experimental nature of cooking.

As for the cookies, they tasted a lot better than the pictures indicate!

Me said...

sure problemo!
(takes a bow)

Me said...

oh.. n the pic had moi drooling, so i cant imagine how good they mighta been!
sigh. wish i could cook. im so clueless in the kitchen, its not even funny! :)

Meeeowwww.. said...

I was hungry to death while reading this post !! :D Coincidencoo!!

"the way to a Man's heart is thru is stomach, the way to a womans life is thru her kitchen....:))"

nice read dude..can i tag ur into my blog?

The Depressed Doormat said...

@me: All you have to do is enter the kitchen...

@A.J.: I thought the way to a woman's heart was through Diamonds, cars and the kind...

Anonymous said...

You swing from the sub-lime to the rid-ick-ulous with ease, I say!
Try and try again... it is the next best way to win a good girl after having the minimum requisites of a gym-toned body, sculpted face and a million dollar sports car.

The Depressed Doormat said...

Thanks for commenting rdoc. Needless to say, I am not going to win a "good girl", since I am a dozen liposuction sessions away from the "gym toned" body, a two year old decided to experiment on the mould that would be my face and the closest I get to million dollar cars is when I crash into them out of sheer jealousy! That too is atleast a year away, since I am not yet licensed to drink and drive!

Raveena said...

Forget cooking.
Let's eat!

The food looks delicious!
*Applause for the chef extraordinaire*


The Depressed Doormat said...

someone let out the monster!

And I know why you are complimenting my cooking...

Raveena said...

Okay...why AM I complementing your cooking?

Raveena said...

See, You don't know.

U just like to pretend.


Stickfigureondrugs said...

For someone who hates cooking..
You sure can write about it:\..

The Depressed Doormat said...

@Jean: I could tell you here, but it wouldn't make much sense to anyone else, so I shall refrain from doing so.

@Stickfigure: I DO NOT hate cooking. I just hate cooking for other people. More dislike than hate. If I had to cook just for myself, I would have absolutely no problem. The starting picture was just for kicks and the FINAL point.

Raveena said...


U just like to pretend.

And stop being such a LIAR!

*wags finger*


Sakhi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sakhi said...

I love cooking and love eating too, though only vegeterian!

Ur cookies here sure left me drooling! :)

Aditi said...

oh yeah you were right! your blog is a chick magnet! :P

see you even got one drooling! :P