Thursday, March 3, 2016

Catching Up

While parties have a certain zing, there's nothing I like better than catching up one on one with friends.  Last week was particularly packed with such meetings - there were six of them, sometimes more than one in a day.

I began rather hesitantly, cooking over the weekend, for a visiting uncle.  There were the usual ups and downs, as happens when one is cooking special food after a long time.  One really needs to keep at it, to keep one's hand in.

I made dum biryani - a mix of marinated, tenderized meat (uncooked) covered with layers of rice (partially cooked), fried onions, potatoes, curd and spices, and left to steam gently until everything is cooked and the flavours meld together.  It was nice but ended up being rather smoky in flavor as the pan wasn’t heavy enough.  There were a couple of lessons that I relearnt in this process : pans are as important as ingredients, and never make a one dish meal unless you are very sure your guests don’t mind if things don’t turn out perfectly.  In this case, my uncle didn’t mind in the least, and we had a very pleasant evening, catching up on family news.

I was much more confident for the next dinner, though it happened rather suddenly.  Our friend, who initially said he would be coming after a root canal (so we only had to keep ice cream for him) cancelled his dental appointment!  But I managed to put some things together, and had just baked a batch of brownies (which went well with the ice cream) so it all ended well.  In this way, things proceeded – each meal that I cooked seemed easier than the last.

It was tiring at times, but so much fun!  It was wonderful to catch up with friends, to talk about serious things – ups and downs, laugh over frivolities and discuss dreams and goals – I think one is really only comfortable with friends when one can talk about one’s dreams without worrying that people will laugh or be dismissive about them.

When all this was over, the house and I were quiet once more.  There was plenty of time for thought and introspection.  Time to catch up with oneself. 

Last summer, I had been discussing which path I may take, once my baby grew a little older.  I have so many interests that it takes me a while to figure out what I want to do at each step in my life.  And I have reached the stage where I could only seriously give time to one more new thing, if at all.  I had a vague sense that I would just want to continue where I left off before my pregnancy, but the sense of certainty eluded me.  Then suddenly it was back – yesterday, when I realized that I would indeed, like to pick up the threads where I had left them and see where they took me – in the same direction, or perhaps on a slightly modified path over time.

I realized that it felt so right to be cooking (though it sounds rather frivolous, it’s not, and besides, as a close friend said, “What’s wrong with frivolity?”).  My focus has changed a little over the past few years.  I have always been interested in baking, and have been trying, a little at a time, to bake Viennese (by far the most interesting recipes that I have come across) cakes, tortes and tarts, and French breads.  In the future I think I would like to focus on artisanal breads; bread making is heady and addictive (as is bread eating)!  Perhaps, if I have some time to spare, I would like to persuade some chefs to teach me how to use the tandoor (the traditional Indian clay oven).

I have a list of cooking related aspirations (making new baby foods, an accessible school to train cooks, a cookbook that is in progress) but baking tops the list.

And, of course, to continue writing.  Books, if possible, but blogs for sure.  It’s the best way I know of to catch up with all my thoughts!

1 comment:

Ashok kumar said...

you're doing great!! keep it up.

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