Monday, December 13, 2010

Rants from the kitchen

With all the interesting food blogs doing the rounds, I find myself quite incompetent at the present time, lost in a sea of tempting recipes. I am marooned in a studio suite of Marriott which marks the fourth of such stays in this year. In conclusion, I am the quintessential nomad, one who not only lives in five different places in a year, but also has to manage to spread tolerable meals in five different kitchens, fumbling her way across cupboards and dishwashers. Such is the plight of being a trailing spouse!

Now, many on the other side of the grass (and mine is NOT green for the umpteenth time!!) believe this is a privilege - hotel life and hence the luxury of thriving on delivered food. But believe me, all that indulgence lasts well for a week at the most. Then begins the craving for simple home cooked meals. Even the most delectable chicken biryani from the local Indian restaurant becomes tiresome after four shameless visits in a row. And this time it is New Jersey - the Little India of Amrika. We have been on a gluttonous rampage with the Chandni Chowk styled parathas, the Chettinad curries, the chicken puffs and the vada pav. But after a fortnight of almost a crazy eating spree, even Sam, the foodie has begun whining for simpler fares, ones that are made with love and served with care.

My friend and fellow blogger, Somdatta, has recently written a beautiful post on comfort food, which for us eastern Indians is the ubiquitous rice-dal-mashed boiled potato with raw onion, green chilies and a swirl of mustard oil. It is the ultimate soul food and no amount of fish or chicken can supplant the emotion that this classic combo evokes. Thinking on the lines of comfort food, I wonder what happens to one who thrives for almost a month on this comfort food? Like we have been, for it is difficult to throw lavish spreads here, in this supposedly "fully equipped" kitchen which is a mere renovated hole with sleek gadgets. I miss my comfort zone, aka my compatible bamboo chopping board and santoku knife pair, the oh-so-convenient non-stick pots on which you can stir, saute, fry and frizzle the world. Mostly, it is the unique feeling of that space called 'my kitchen'. The maximum I can whip up here is a chicken or a prawn curry, because try anything less runny and it just sticks to the stainless steel surface of the pot. At times I manage a trick biryani, minus the layering and the classic Hyderabadi touch.

I miss the whole paraphernalia, the baking and experimenting, what Sam mockingly calls "lurking in the kitchen". Cooking is a major cathartic vent for me when my inner demons just melt away into the embalming aroma of spices. Isn't is pathetic when one misses one's own cooking? Even if it is the humble dalma (an Odiya delicacy made with dal and vegetables), for which a pressure cooker is a must.
So much for the fully equipped kitchens!


  1. Its not pathetic to miss one's own cooking dear :) I love my cooking tooo!! And yeah nothing can match up to the simple dal roti and the warmth of home!! I second that!

  2. Swati, absolutely! I pity those women who just 'cook up' excuses to escape the real cooking. There's so much more to it than just the cutting and chopping...


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