The Masterchef Diaries
Statement 1: I love good food.
Statement 2: I love watching food shows on TV.
Statement 3: I love eating.
Statement 4: I love Nigella and her gorgeous bites.
Pray, which of these above statements points to the conclusion that I love cooking? None, in my opinion. Which explains why God decided to play a cruel joke on me, by putting me in charge of the kitchen for two whole months.
Two whole months.
I have, or rather my family has, come to terms with this twist of fate and has left me to my whims and fancies. While all that is cool, I learn, as usual, the hard way, that cooking is no easy task. No. It is not easy, especially when you have an audience to please, and particularly when the audience is your doting Dad.
Anyone who gives me the "You are 23, will get married soon and manage the whole household" dialogue gets a Parantha made by me. (You have no idea what you just asked for. Believe me.)
I know. This happens the first time you handle the kitchen. So its okay. But, just to be on the safe side, here are some tips for the other innocent souls like me, who have been thrown into the hell's kitchen.
TIP 1 - The Audience's Face is a dead giveaway.
If you really wish to gauge the quality of your cooking, you'll have to concentrate on the face of the audience for the first few split seconds of the meal. What to look out for:
- The Ugh-What-Was-That-But-I-Still-Love-You Look
- The-Smile-Is-Getting-Tougher-To-Maintain Look
- The You-Tried-So-I-Love-You Look
- The Sorry-I-Am-Trying-But-The-Smile-Is-Fading-On-Its-Own Look
- The I-Am-Proud-Of-You-But Look
- The Lord-Please-Forgive-Her Look
- The But-This-Is-Still-Better-Than-Previous-Time Look
And so on. If you receive any of these looks, conveniently shift to the I-Am-Fasting-Today look and don't try eating anything you made.
TIP 2 - Don't Judge a Book by its Cover, and Don't Judge food by its Garnish.
Anything that has been painstakingly made to look good, is probably just an illusion and a cover-up, even if you did it yourself. If your heart is telling you to add that sumptuous looking Coriander leaf or grated almonds on top, your mind probably knows for sure that you forgot to put in the salt or some other key ingredient. Its the heart-mind game here too!
TIP 3 - If someone says its easy, take it for granted, it isn't.
Case in point being Parantha/Chappatis/Rotis. I am an innocent girl, you know? So when my Mum told me on the phone that this was easy to make, I believed her. An hour later, my Dad (an unwilling participant), and I were in the kitchen, in a boxing match with the dough, making the weirdest shapes that we never managed to peel off the rolling pan. The ones that we pulled off were thick and hence good for use as a shield while fighting. My Dad is a gracious man. He said they were good for a first attempt. Sniff.
TIP 4 - If you feel a sudden urge to cook something really good, lie low. Order in.
Secret missions of the order of US Army's Osama-Killing Operation, to make something nice without others getting to know, usually end up in disasters. Just order in and act like you made it. What? You have never lied before? Jesus!
TIP 5 - Stick to basics.
You'll learn it the hard way that everyday cannot be Pasta night, or Dum Aloo, Pulao night, or Au-gratin and Cheese fondue night. That day you'll thank God for the simple, yet appetising Dal and Aloo Fry.
There. I have spelt it out for all you amateurs out there. That said, cooking can be fun *at times*. Just remember to cherish those few times.
Bow to The MASTERCHEF,