Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Whats Cooking ...

Kannan was an unconventional home chef.... no measuring cups and no measuring spoons, it more of "Eye ball it" and adjust "to taste". It was time for his evening dinner cooking and thought of making it special for the evening. He searched the rack for Onions, picked one, picked a few cloves of garlic from the shelf, took a piece of ginger and a stick of cinnamon. With a little water he ground it to a fine paste. As he emptied the paste on to a bowl to make way for the next paste of tomatoes, Kannan smiled to the different occasions where he was the little chef, with a touch of his own.

From the time he was the little apprentice to Ammamma and Amma in their respective kitchens he was given little chores in cooking which taught him to be fast and accommodative in the kitchen. Those initial lessons from Ammamma to make the yummy maladoos from broken channa and sugar with hot ghee. Kannan could still feel the heat in his hand when  
Ammamma had given him a small handful to roll it into his first ever sweet dish. He could smell the cardamom in it and the ghee when the sugar and flour came together. He would earn the sweet by working for it with Ammamma in her kitchen, or that’s what he thought when Ammamma would pat his tiny shoulders which was just a handful for Ammamma  
and say

"Wow... you made maladoo all by yourself... here this is yours"

Kannan would bite into one when the sugary treat would melt away in his mouth. He would smell of the ghee, sugar and cardamom till Amma would see his face smeared with flour and force him to wash his face. 

"You look like maladoo.... someone will eat you up... come wash your face..."would be Amma's comment.

It was Amma who taught him to make Rava Kesari and the tips and tricks to make it taste better. Since the time he tried and the first trial was successful; Kannan became the official Kesari maker at home for poojas and small gatherings at home.  

Though Amma would not directly appreciate Kannan and say how good it was, she would secretly take bowls filled with the Kesari and rush to the neighbor’s house and tell Leela Chechi

"Kannan had made kesari today.... however much I try, I don’t get this consistency..." and smile, taking pride in his abilities.

"Even for Akka's engagement..." Kannan thought.

While he sautéed the onion paste and got the tomatoes pureed, he went on smiling thinking about the day when his would be Athimbar (Brother in law) had come home to see Akka. 

"Pachai... today the marriage would be fixed as they taste my Kesari" Kannan had mockingly remarked while he happily got the Rava Kesari to its jelly like consistency.

"Did Pachai make it" asked Akka's would be father in law Dr. Narayan
"No ... my thambi made it" Akka replied with a smile, which had the pride and naughtiness in it.

There were many instances when Kannan found happiness in cooking for the family. With a sigh ... Kannan quickly blanched the palak and made it into a paste. The cooking went on with the dry masalas, chili powder and salt going into the sautéed onion paste and the tomato puree giving it the body and the flavor. 

Kannan fondly remembered his office staff coming for dinner, when he had cooked Chinese, the many times he cooked Pasta for friends, and went on to check the taste of the mix after adding the palak paste to the wok. There was a smile of satisfaction on his face and started getting the chapatti’s ready by the side. The baby potatoes were just done when he added them to the curry and gave the final touches. He added a blob of butter to garnish the bowl full of alu palak with the smell of jeera, cinnamon and the masalas...leaving his mouth to water.

The dinner was ready and he set the table with all his heart. He was the VIP and he was the butler for the night. He sat down with the steaming chapattis and curry in front of him. Smiled for a moment and was about to start when he remembered that he had not got the bottle of water. He opened the fridge and took the bottle of water when the phone rang.

"Rajesh School" the mobile buzzed with the picture on it.

Kannan kept the bottle on the table and answered the call

"When... oh... ok... ok... no no... I will be there in ten minutes" said Kannan in a hurry and cut the call.

Quickly pulled over the T shirt and Jeans and walked out locking the door and rushed to attend to the emergency. Rolled his long hair to a pony tail while he got down the lift. Rushed to the car and started it in a hurry. As he drove towards the hospital where one of their friends were admitted, Kannan remembered the chapattis and curry on the table and smiled to himself

"There has been so many nights when Amma used to prepare the food with so much of love and care and I would return having food from outside.... and only say I had... and not even ask whether she had or not" Kannan thought.

"Chef indeed... chefs cook, but don’t get to taste them" Kannan stopped thinking about it, by the cafeteria and ordered..."One egg sandwich please"

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