Saturday, September 13, 2008

My experiments with Cooking

Waking up early on Sunday morning with no scheduled plans can be a blessing in disguise…Like today it prompted me to “dust” my old blog and write a fresh post...As always I was hungry and so the topic was easy – Cooking !

Ah…Cooking…the word that supposedly instills fear in the minds of the both men and women of today’s generation alike...Men have to answer “Didn’t you cook anything when you where a bachelor” and women have to answer “Didn’t you learn anything from your mom”…

Well my tryst with cooking started quite early…at the age of 5 !

Me and my friend Bhanu where alone at his home and we got hungry…Since he was older than me by a year, the responsibility of finding food fell on him…After ascertaining that there was nothing edible in the kitchen, we both decided to cook Maggie and Omelet. For the Omelets we poured oil into the pan, added the beaten eggs and then realized the oil was too much...What to do? We took the small round sieve used to remove tea powder and sieved the oil and egg mix :-)… That was the first self cooked meal of mine…with Bhanus help.

After many years Bhanu, who always had a flair for cooking, joined the Hotel Management Institute in Kovalam and next year I also followed his ‘food’ steps. He is currently a head chef with Le Meridian hotels.

Life at IHMCT, one of the top 5 catering colleges in India, was an eye opener. The college believed that to be good managers and chefs of the future, everyone must know the hardships faced by each staff of a hotel. So everything in the college was done by the students…For a guy like me who had never cleaned a single plate @ home till then, standing at the mess hall exit, collecting the soiled plates of the entire college and loading them to the huge dishwashers was an unforgettable experience…It taught me that no job was inferior.

The cooking classes where the hardest for me…I had no natural flair for cooking…We did cooking in 2 member teams and my partner was a girl from Tibet called Pema. When the chef told us to start cooking I looked helplessly around…We had to cook a continental meal – 4 Breadrolls(buns for non-chef'y' crowd), a soup,a meat dish,a veg dish and a desert !
The fact that what we cook was going to be our lunch was even scarier!!!

With the though of taking the easy way out, I told Pema I will do the dough for the breadrolls.
But no matter what I did, half the dough was always stuck in my hands…The chef came and asked if I had any clue about what I was doing…In the end poor Pema had to cook most of the meal and this (obviously) continued for my entire duration in IHMCT. The patience she showed with me made me thank the fact that she was from Nepal and I also thanked Buddhist monks and their patient way of life. Pema, if you ever read this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart :-)


I wont spend too much time on the life @ IHMCT which is an entire topic in itself, but one particular incident I remember in catering college was the mid term exam…

Imagine a hall the length of 5 normal college class rooms…having two long rows of steel stands for the gas burners…Everything spotlessly clean and shining…Everything in perfect order…all utensils and ingredients arranged perfectly…
The exam began with everyone making the standard veg soup…60 students cooking silently, the only noise coming from the occasional vessel clangs. I some how made my soup and while transferring it to the soup bowls, the pot handle slipped from my hand and the entire soup fell on the clean spotless floor…the only noise in the hall was the clattering sound of pot as it rolled round and round till it came to rest…Everyone stopped and looked at the pot and when it stopped rolling, they looked up at me with astonishment as if I had dropped a nuclear bomb…It was one of the few instances in life when you wanted to be invisible for the right reasons…

Those days spent at IHMCT Kovalam were  a priceless experience in my life...

I didn’t complete my catering course (and because of this even now you can go to any restaurant and eat food fearlessly) and joined my Engineering course in Munnar…There I didn’t play around with cooking much…

Chennai life was (and still is ) at the hands of the ‘akka’/ maid who comes to cook for us…Her cooking principle is simple and easy….make a gravy with tomatoes and then each day add different things into it – green peas, channa,potatos,egg,sprouts and on (un) lucky days we get just the tomato gravy in its full glory.

Recently I successfully cooked Chicken ‘potato’ roast …After I started cooking the chicken, I realized that the onion puree was not enough. So I took 3 unboiled potatos, crushed them in the mixie and added that as the base…My room mates didn’t notice anything while they ate and I told them of this the next day…No one has been harmed till now with my experiments with cooking and I am still going strong :-)

10 comments:

Sandeep said...

Wow, didn't knew you were in IHMCT ! my cooking is more or less on the same lines as that of yours.
The tomato puree + (Chicken OR Vegetables OR Egg) is an awesome technique, not to mention I use it daily ;-)

Anonymous said...

funny blog dude !

Kavitha Iyer said...

Ha Ha Ha! Yeah, I remember your dough making 'skills,' K Rajshekhars stare, and Jabbar's nasty comments! :D That exam time when you dropped the pot... Dude, priceless! :D

Tom David said...

Dude.. send me your chicken potato roast recipe...

Believe IN Urself said...

hey... its disheartening that you cooked when gluttons like me were not around! :(

Monu Joy said...

@ Sandy : hehe, we are in the same boat...

@ Anonymous : Danx !

@ Kavitha : Aha, thanks for refreshing my memory...

@ Tom : Sure dude...mail me your id ;-)

@ Believe in yourself : Next weekend we shall try something new...but you must eat it :-)

shail said...

Cool post. Made me smile all the time I was reading it!! I am trying to imagine how you must have felt when the pot of soup fell! Gawd, what a disaster!! :P

Supi said...

haha.. I had almost forgotten this episode of your's.

Ashvin said...

Dude.. omelet and maggi is the best combo ever.. ever.
Nice post.. can learn a thing or two on Cooking...

cijo said...

Dude Hilarious.........
You should write your Autobiography