Sunday, July 22, 2012

The non existent culinary gene.


You know there is something called a culinary gene.  It is transmitted from the mother to the 'receptive' child in her womb. Unfortunately in my case, I’d been on indefinite strike when my Mother was trying to bestow those good genes and hence I was born (there was no other choice), and grew up to be a disgrace to every female in the family- in terms of cooking of course ;-).

Everyone takes food for granted. Because as far as the Indian male expectation goes, in every house, behind the relentless smoke and the stove there should be a female figure whose efforts will always be overseen. Everyone comes to the dining table expecting food, and never was it broken - everyone gulped down whatever was there, sometimes found absurd reasons to complain, washed their hands, burped and left. Noone cared about the number of onions that had to be peeled, washed and diced which were to be added in the right proportion and sauted for the right amount of time which was an important ingredient of the curry they ate. 

Later when I swapped roles to become this female figure who was expected to feed her family, I realized the actual pain behind the smoke and the stove. The effort from peeling an onion to making a curry, or rather the basic rules of cooking that one is expected to be born with. Being a south Indian, Idly is our staple food. Hot steamy idlis are a typical breakfast, which is also a convenient option when there are guests in the house, primarily because idly doesn’t need a lot of recipes or basic cooking knowledge to make. You have to pour the idly batter in the idly mould, close lid, and wait until the whistle comes or 15 minutes whichever happens first. 

When we were at Bangalore, all I knew was to make Dosas, which surprisingly came well for me - thanks to the days I sat at the kitchen holding my plate, eyes set on the tawa, mouth open and watery ,watching my Mom make paper thin Dosas with a touch of ghee. Droool..

Later I heard that Idlis were even easier than Dosas. Here is how one can easily mess up a day’s breakfast. So the idly mould was there, I smeared oil on it, and poured the right amount of batter and closed the lid. After fifteen minutes, I switched off the stove and opened the idli maker only to find the top row idlis to be in an edible form. The middle row was watery and the entire bottom row of idlis drowned ….and died.  Which means, there is something else to it - knowing how much water to pour inside the idli maker, that is what. Well, no one told me that did they?  (I am that female who missed the gene, remember?). Post this unfortunate incident, my mother and sister were so devastated … that they started feeling good about themselves. Knowing that there are people who can mess up something like idly which people like them can prepare in their sleep, boosted their self confidence at my cost.

But there is a determination factor to many things I did so far. So I went ahead and kept trying. Idlis soon became something I could make without errors. Even the bottom row, mind you!  Pepper chicken, channa, daal and even fish curry (after so many failed attempts, and no my husband hadn’t left me still) . Yes I have come a long way, but I am far from being an expert. Very far, that is. With work on one side and a toddler on the other, it is rather difficult to find time, but most weekends, I try something or the other to brush up my non existent skills. Isn’t that good enough? I even posted a cutlet recipe couple of months ago! I hope no one tried that out:-P

Anyway now I am determined. I am never going to be competition to my mother, grandmother or my sister in terms of culinary skills, but I will score a ‘not bad’ rating with hubby. Just wait and see, all of you jokers who are laughing at the screen now!


18 comments:

  1. I appreciate the effort that you put to make the client happy . Anita Jeyan Sandeep , learned from mistakes and took corrective measures not to repeat the same . She even took technology which she was not trained and still was able to deliver results . Congrats and keep up the good work !

    ഞങ്ങടെ ക്വാര്‍ട്ടര്‍ലി അവാര്‍ഡ്‌ കഴിഞ്ഞ ആഴ്ച ആരുന്നു :)

    nice read !

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  2. used to love cooking.. but life keeps getting in the way. Used to make good chicken and prawn dishes.. ironically, not so good with dishes like idli and all.

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    1. Chicken and Prawn?! Oh my God..! I like cooking too...but it doesnt like me.

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  3. I CAN SO VERY WELL RELATE TO WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN...COZ EVEN I AM ONE OF THOSE UNLUCKY SOULS WHO DIDNT GET THAT CULINARY GENES...WORST OF ALL IT WAS PASSED ON TO MY BROTHER :( :(...HOW WE STRUGGLE WITH SIMPLEST OF DISHES AND PPL WITH THE "WONDER GENES" COME AND STIR STIR A DISH WHICH TRUNS UP SO YUMMY :( ;(

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    1. Yes, in my case, the genes were all inherited by my sister. Ask her for a cup of tea and you will get a very satisfying cup of awesomeness.

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  4. Good for U really!!!! I still dont knw how to make idlies...seriously I dont.
    For one I have never tried to make them...ever. Why??? Because at the tender age of 12 I made a promise and kept it till today. Never to eat idlies. Honest because I cant stand them.
    When I got married I only knew how to make tea and chappaties. Nothing else.
    But I learnt and am still learning...can u believe I learnt to make sambhar after 7 yrs of marriage:-). I keep telling everybody if I can learn how to cook anybody can. People arnd me say I'm pretty good;-P. But I'll be honest.....I really dont like cooking. But I do it because it feeds my family. And whtever I do I like to do it well, so I try to make it tasty;-P

    I'm sure ur mom knws tht if u had decided to be a stay at home rather than work you wd have more practice and automatically become a better cook. Honestly never be apologetic about ur lack of this particular skill...it is far too over-rated in my opinion. I'm not saying u r but I find many women bemoaning this deficiency....almost like ashamed when there is no need to be.

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    1. And however a bad cook you think u[and I don't mean U, it's just how I phrased it] are, my child is going going to think U r the bestest in the whole wide world!!! And there is no higher compliment that that;-D

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    2. Arrrgggghhhh....please echoose me, I meant your child, YOUR child;-P

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    3. Lol Thanks Nancy. I think I shouldn't be ashamed of not being a good cook. Yes the YOUR child bit was understood.LOL

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  5. Anita,

    If you know your shortcomings you have already won the battle. I admire him to bear with all your trial and error dishes.

    Take care

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    1. Yeah I admire him for it too :D And I admire myself more for trying to make him happy :D

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  6. Hahaha and you know Anita, despite some of the fancier stuff I very occasionally manage to create-I don't know how to make idles :(

    There's always been a kind of fear of the amount of water to put or the amount of mixture to come out with...so you my dear are doing just fine...

    Most of us actually don't come with the cooking gene-I hate the kitchen too if I have to do anything else there than finding something ready to devour :-)

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    1. hehe finally there is someone to support me. But I am sure the male population wont agree to this. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach! And a woman without cooking skills is not considered a woman by some male chauvinists ! But seriously Suruchi I dont care anymore...just because I cant do it!

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  7. hey, I knew nothing of cooking when I got married.. Here 's how I made puttu..
    http://ajournalcalledlife.blogspot.com/2011/12/puttu-experiment.html. But now I have somehow got acceptable client satisfaction levels on this.. He he he..

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    1. Lol i read it now and commented too ! Thanks for sharing that one !

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  8. LOL!!! Awesome post! Failures are the stepping stones to success! And you know what, the culinary gene part is just nonsense. In that case, a new born should be able to cook awesome cooking biryani like his/her mom. It is more of a combination of 'necessity is the mother of invention' and 'practice makes perfect'. The first time I made sambar, I had to throw it away. And believe it or not, it is still not good. :( I am sure you will be such a good cook one day that you will laugh at this post of yours. Cheers! :)

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