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!