This post is actually a dedication to Mr Pradhan, gifted with not just the ability to turn the most mundane ingredients into a cordon bleu dish, but was equally, if not more gifted with an acerbic wit and an acidic tongue that could cut down budding Auguste Escoffiers down to size. Most of us, as freshmen in the hotel management course, probably learnt how to handle a knife from him – and while we could never hope to match the culinary skills of even a Gordon Ramsay, he did teach us enough to at least get by in life minus a wife. And despite being at the receiving end of his stinging criticism of our cooking skills, somewhere, along the way, that coconut-facade of his did slip up and ended up revealing his gentle side.
Living alone, away from home, creates its own unique circumstances for venturing into the kitchen. Free from the encumbrances of pleasing anyone – the bane of many a housewife and mothers – can allow one to do as you please. And these are the perks of the single life.
Today’s escapade involved making rajma and roti – the ubiquitous Punjabi dish. Rajma of course, as your mom will corroborate, take a really long time to soften up and cook, with the pressure cooker. So good luck if you don’t have one!
Soaked the rajma for about 3 hours – well, did call up mom once to check on the cooking procedure. Sorry Mr Pradhan, but it’s been really long since 1994 and my knowledge of matters culinary is a bit rusty.
To speed up, heated up the water in which they were soaked and then put them on boil in the cooker – four whistles and then on to a slow simmer for the next 45 minutes. Meanwhile, the dough kneading didn’t go as well as the last time – turned out a bit too loose and wet, with the result that shaping the chapatis round was bit of a struggle!
The masala for the tempering, well, kept it down to basics of onions, garam masala and salt and pepper – not really too high on the taste front but hey, since it ain’t on the menu, nobody’s got to pay anything! Besides, like I said earlier, just enough to get by and help keep the body and soul together. The two apart aren’t of much use to anyone, least of all to me!
Net result: I can cook, to survive at least, if not to woo a woman, for the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach. Or was it about men? Well, what the heck, don’t women feel hungry!