Finally, I have started a food blog and for the first blog post, I have chosen to start with a throwback cooking memory which really showcases how far I have come in terms of cooking. I remember my high school days when in a class suddenly one of our teachers asked us if we knew how to make rice. Guys, those were the times when no microwave was there, so cooking rice was only possible in either a pressure cooker or in our normal big vessel which we call patila in Hindi. I remember I was the only one in the class who wasn't aware of cooking rice and except for a few occasions never entered the kitchen to cook something. I had a very limited knowledge of cooking until after I went to college.
Time really flies, and after entering college I started making snacks and appetizers at home but never cooked an entire meal alone. Basics like dal and rice were far from my expertise. Every time I entered the kitchen I had to ask my parents or house-help for the spice I needed to make something. I was confused about what to put in a tempering like methi or zeera? I was confused, overwhelmed but at the same time interested in cooking. My sister and I were making all types of yummy and easy appetizers but elaborate meals were not our forte. I remember after my marriage got fixed, I told the guy who used to cook at our home to teach me how to cook stuffed paratha, but he always postponed it to some other time. Finally one day my maternal grandmother came and took a few hours to give me a crash course and bam! After she left I basically forgot everything she taught me. So, in short, I was kind of cooking, I was following orders in the kitchen but never independently cooked an entire meal. I was taking baby steps in the kitchen when my marriage got fixed. Knowing the expectations a family will have from their daughter in law my mother confided with my mother in law about my not being an expert in the kitchen. To her relief, she smiled and shared the info that my would-be husband is an expert cook and she need not worry.
I remember after my marriage when everyone demanded that I should make lunch for everybody I was seriously scared. I knew how to cook special dishes but still was an amature at cooking for such a large family. My husband came to my rescue and we planned a few things and divided the work among ourselves. We did that as a team and still doing it for the most the large-scale cooking we do for our friends.
Storytime! At my inlaws place, making rotis was fun for everyone but me. Neighbours loved to watch me desperately put newspaper everywhere in an attempt to make preparations for my 15 rotis that ended up looking like dry, thick replicas of a world map. Eventually so frustrated by my neighbours I shut the windows even on a hot summer day.
With each passing year, I was learning and by the time I had my son I was a pro in the kitchen. I was able to make almost everything. Still, spending less time in the kitchen while making food was my ultimate goal. I love food but don't see a point in spending hours in the kitchen while making food. I don't understand why people link good food for long hours. In my point of view, good tasting food can be achieved by spending less time too. Having said that few recipes call for long hours which anyways I do. My mantra in the kitchen is to cook yummy food using fewer time and ingredients. That doesn't mean I never go overboard.
My husbands birthday was approaching so I thought of giving him a different surprise this time. I was aware that he was missing the elaborate thali meal served in different Indian restaurants now that we were in the U.S. I thought of making it for his birthday. Well, planning the food was easy but the execution was time and energy consuming. Here we don't get any house help to work in the kitchen beside us so making everything alone was a challenge. I remember the clock ticking in my mind while my heart was racing. My worst fear was I will not be able to finish that on time for lunch. To my surprise, I was able to cook a delicious spread in almost 3-4 hours. That was one of the biggest accomplishments for me and someone was very happy to have this lunch for his big day.
So here I present to you my Royal Spread: