Culinary circus

I’m dreading the season of Master Chef that will soon invade Indian channels because of its repercussions. It’s most contagious with kids who feel it’s a cakewalk when they see experts of their age dishing out recipes that most of us find difficult even to pronounce!

However, in my case, it was the husband who got inspired and bitten by the cooking bug. He decided to have a shot at it, forgetting he had not once attempted to spread the dosa batter on a hot tawa, break an egg, or even brew a cup of instant coffee.

Going by his systematic approach to everything, he rummaged through the bookshelves for interesting recipe books and then scanned through for dishes that not only looked appealing, but had uncomplicated ingredients and recipes.

I gloated with pride at his efforts. I even visualised a future where his growing interest would prove to be a boon to me and his holidays would prove to be mine — from the kitchen. The recipes that were zeroed in on were ‘Kashmiri Pilaf’ (no spelling error but copied verbatim from the chosen book) and ‘Mutton Kofta Curry’.

The next problem looming large was the absence of a suitable apron for him — for, he would never settle for anything with dots, frills or lace, but obviously! An online hunt ensued but proved futile. The culinary world was cruel, sexist and biased and hence did not have macho aprons —  at least in our country.

The daughters came to his rescue and found boring linen ones that he half-heartedly agreed to. It was promptly delivered the following day and the girls decided to surprise him with their creative add-on.

When it was presented that evening to him, the painted words — ‘The world’s best chef’— bowled him over. He chose to ignore the tagline in fine print that read ‘...in the making’. Their labour of love increased his zeal for cooking.

The days that followed saw the addition of an imported digital micro-weighing scale (to deal with the measurement of ounces mentioned in the book) and a couple of pans and spatulas to my already cluttered kitchen. However, the entire family looked forward to the big day with mixed feelings of awe and anxiety.

The D-day dawned, and the atmosphere at home was festive. After all the ingredients were kept out, I was banished to my room. My daughters involuntarily became part of the amateurs’ cooking club.

I held myself through all the commotion, excited whispers and clang of falling vessels. After precisely two hours and 56 minutes of killing suspense, I went towards the kitchen. The sight in there was too shocking, as if a hurricane had swept through it.

Many ingredients were scattered there, the sink was overflowing with vessels, and all three of them had colourful stains on their aprons and flour on their faces and hair.Flour? Yeah, though it was not listed in the recipes of both the dishes, the flour container had overturned.

To cut a long story short, we had sweet-and-salty vegetable khichdi, with dry fruits in it, and minced meat curry, because the koftas disintegrated. Needless to say my mood was spoilt while clearing up the mess... sorry, the after-storm... for, did I mention that maids in our neighbourhood don’t work on Sundays?

And moreover, my dream of breaks from the kitchen went down the drain in the kitchen sink that day, along with the wasted flour and other stuff.

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