I shall not cringe to confess that I have been a good-for-nothing-sort all my life. Surviving in this murky world, without any added acumen or advantage to boast of, has been my only achievement that I am proud of. In all my stupidly vain and failed attempts, I have scored high on lack of originality. At best I have chosen to copy what I have found attractive on other’s plates . That brings me to the topic of this post.
“An obese, self-proclaimed foodie shall always be cursed to salivate lifelong on eye-catching and yummillicious food blogs put up by more talented co-bloggers and shall invariably and foolishly enough, try to imitate one, some day, to end up messing the whole show“….so aptly prophetic for yours truly. And that is exactly what I apprehended would happen with me.
I had been gorging on these delicious delicacies and equally mouth-licking pictures accompanying them when suddenly this brain-wave knocked me upside down : why not try to put up one in my own blog space?
The simplicity with which an idea travels and knocks at your door is rendered immensely complicated by the attempt to execute it. Given my day-to-day culinary experiments for which I have standing instructions for my family : ” Jaisa bhi bana ho, bas wah wah karke kha lena” (howsoever poorly cooked the dishes are, you’ve got to gulp them down with a few perfunctory phrases of appreciation), it was decidedly difficult to select which ‘secret recipe’ to disclose on this maiden display. As a matter of fact, since I am in a confectionary, oops sorry, confessionary mode, let me divulge that none of my creative ventures are marked by that enviable streak of consistency which is the trait of worthier men of accomplishments. Temperamental, moody and at times downright mean, my creations appropriately reflect the weather that each day ushers in. Consequently, some days you’ll find charred pieces of veggies floating in an insipid pool of light brown liquid, mistakenly assumed as the gravy, on others, the tongue-slicing spices can make you flee to the lavatory in Milkha speed. In short, I am always a bit apologetic sharing sabzi with my colleagues in office, during lunch time. Well, I am sure, they are suitably trained to take things in their stride by now. 😛
So coming to my culinary adventures, the primary obstacle turned out to be the utensils lining the sideboards. They were as bruised and battered as life had rendered me – therefore, unclickable. So, the fervent desire of capturing those Kodak moments in kitchen was shelved for some indefinite future date. My food blog would also have been canned peremptorily, but for one fine afternoon when I marched determinedly into the brand’s outlet and whisked a Pressure Pan off the shelf straight into my proud possession. Thereafter, I was unstoppable.
Once upon a time ( no, not in Mumbai) I had this fetish for exotic dishes and landed up churning out my own versions, cooked mostly in flickering candle light, during load shedding sans inverter. Unsurprisingly, these would turn out to be as close to the original as anything could be. Asked about the recipe, I would obviously go blank , as in that shadowed kitchen, even the cook did not know what exact ingredients went into the making of the gourmet. 😀
Now either in broad day light or under shining CFLs, a generous amount of restraint is exercised in so far as calorie-quotient of the dish is concerned. A tablespoonful or two of oil at best. A medium sized onion, a plump cube of ginger, antioxidant that it is, and two to three pods of garlic go into the making of 200/250 gm. of vegetable. Sure sign of mellowed by age and tampered by experience, you may say!!! That reminds me of that memorable Bong song ….” Chhedechho to anek kicchui purono obhyesh…” Age does make you lighter, off your baggage and brighter, though we may not be, but hope truly is a deadly disease…
Anyway retracing steps back into the kitchen.
It was a winter afternoon. Beeru, my ubiquitous sabziwalla, had managed to tempt me into buying a packet of mushroom – 200 gm. for Rs. 25/- which was any day available in the market for Rs. 20/- (wicked bugger!), that the idea of preparing chatpata mushroom overpowered me. Now mushroom for me is the most fitting substitute for any type of non-veg – fish, mutton, chicken. Easy to cook, fun to eat and extremely light on stomach (though some do complaint of being allergic to this innocent fungus), you can make it into an elaborate dish by adding a few more vegetables to it, like I did.
Chopped onions were dashed into oil nicely heated. As they turned soft and pink went in the grated ginger and garlic paste. As the appetizing waft of fried ginger and garlic filled the room, slid in a pair of tomatoes. It didn’t take much time for the masala to turn a rich red. Threw in a couple of green chilies, a fresh bunch of coriander leaves and a cup of boiled peas to add more colour to the canvas. A pinch of turmeric powder, red chilly powder, salt according to taste and one small teaspoonful of coriander powder ladled whish-whash till the ingredients well-fried hugged the peas. Now was the time for the mushrooms to go in and say hullo to the peas. As the mushrooms mingled with the peas a sprinkle of water really went a long way to tie the knot between the two. I garnished the curry with a dash of chaat masala and garam masala to make it lip-smacking chatpata.
Incidentally, this was the only time cooking that my callous self took a few pics on me mobile – a smatter of wistful memorabilia, a couple of which I have thoughtfully inserted here.
As I come to the fag end of this courageous concoction, I am tempted to quote one of my Bong colleagues, hell bent on expressing herself in Queen’s English. She had recently gotten married and was a little miffed (as usual) with her ma-in-law,” You see, ” She said,” I am all the time in kitchen because my mother-in-law loves to work me up.” Borrowing a similar colloqui, if not the tone, I would say, “See, I am not that bad a cooker, am I ?”
What say you?
By the way, did you all know mushrooms are also known as toadstool? Ugghhhh!