Cooking up disasters

Cooking up disasters

I never harboured any inclination or a penchant to become a master chef. I was always aware of my limitations before I got married but once in my in-law’s home, I became acutely aware of my handicap. The fact that I cannot cook peeved me. My husband would often pester me about my inability to cook veggies without any visible splendour or taste. Fed up with his complaints, I approached a cooking school in our town.

They turned out to be professionals, teaching in batches the students who wanted to go abroad and work as chefs. I tried to squeeze myself into one of the batches but the owner would take me as a student only if I was ready to pay the full fee which amounted to Rs 10,000. I implored that I only wanted to learn a few recipes to impress my in-laws while he motivated me to leave my job and look for greener pastures abroad. He reasoned that being a chef in a foreign country was a better prospect than working as a veterinary doctor in the government sector. 

After months of searching, I finally found a lady who would teach me all the gastronomic delights with each session costing Rs 100. This was a reasonable arrangement. She gave me a list of recipes, desserts and snacks. I chose 10 recipes to start with. My teacher asked me to bring all the ingredients with me on the day of class. After dropping my daughter at school and treating all the sick animals that would report in the morning, I would scurry off to the market to buy the groceries. Once at her place, she would hurriedly proceed with the cutting and chopping. I would stand in a corner like an able pupil holding a pen and copy in my hand.

The moment I would jot down the one step, she would proceed to the next, and I would end up scribbling half-baked recipes in my notebook. When I tried those recipes at home, I’d be left with disastrous results. Once or twice I was able to dish out greasy corn rolls, palatable momos, extra spicy tikkis and cheesy paneer rolls. Happy with my success, I tried to replicate them many times but the results were disappointing.

After one year of lessons and making all kind of unpalatable snacks and burnt out cakes, I realised cooking is an art much like any other creative task. And to be proficient in an art, you need to develop a love for it. Though I took lessons to improve my skills, I lacked the basic aptitude because of which I could not metamorphose into a great chef.

Finally, I ended up getting a maid who could rustle up anything like a genie within no time while I restricted myself to smaller, odd jobs in cooking. However, I definitely found my creative outlet in writing. At the end of the day, it’s all about learning to love and enjoy whatever you are doing at the particular moment.

Perhaps, someday when my mind is more amenable I will make a sincere effort once again to learn and cultivate a love for cooking. Who knows, I could be competing in the next season of MasterChef India!