My salutation on Gandhi Jayanti! It seems a strange coincidence that when framing a title for the post this came to mind when it actually is the 150th Birth Anniversary, October 2, 2019, of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. ‘My Experiments with Truth” is the autobiography of the Mahatma. Of course my experiments are trivial and definitely will not yield such phenomenal results as the freedom of a nation! So now why did this title spring to mind!
My Mathematician friend writes a blog Trialogue mostly on mathematics and teaching it. I ran my eye over a new post on ‘Learning’ thinking that it would be more maths and more on how to teach it. It started as I expected ‘one of the best ways to learn is by experimenting’, but the laboratory for experimenting was the kitchen!! I was intrigued. And so sprang the title ‘My experiments with truth’ in the kitchen, or rather lack of it, experiments I mean! https://trialogue.blog/2019/10/01/learning/
I never learned to cook. Can blame my mother for that, who unlike most Indian moms, did not show any inclination to have me hang around the kitchen! She never felt the need to ‘socialize’ her only daughter into that stereotypical eligible young woman, for marriage of course! So when I finally got married and had to set up a house and kitchen independently I was terrified! Did not even have the basic South Indian culinary skill of cooking rice! How did I manage that? Fortunately my North Indian husband had no such fears! That was atypical too. When did boys, from that part of the world, learn to cook? I guess no one taught him either. Essential difference was, he enjoyed cooking and I did not! And so began our experiments which continue to date. No doubt the results of his experiments are more ‘tasty’ than mine!!
But a little drive down memory lane first. (Statuary Warning: Not meant for the pure vegetarian and weak. And sorry for this graphic scene on this day!) My mother taught me two things, as far as I can remember. One, how to cut and clean a chicken! Two, how to cut and clean a whole fish! Why these two fine skills only? No idea, perhaps she thought these were the more difficult skills or it was an art! The chicken first: There is a particular skill in finding the shoulder (or is it collar) bones of the chicken. Cut into the chicken to expose these two bones. Then stuff your fingers into the two sides of this shoulder area and pull with all your might. Its amazing, the entire stomach region comes open. Then she taught me what to keep and what to throw. Next the chicken legs, wings and the rest!! Similarly the fish! Scale the fish with a sharp knife. Ram your fingers into the area of the fins on both sides of the fish. Pull apart with all your might. Clean the innards! Sorry for those rather gory details!
These skills were extremely useful in the first few years, but soon we discovered that the vendors would clean the chicken and fish for you! And they definitely did not do these fine tricks that Mom taught me! They ‘butchered’ the chicken and fish!! So my only skill became obsolete. Of course, you can get really clean fillet from the cold storage. But we are old fashioned and prefer fresh chicken, fish and even vegetables. Vegetables, we still get them daily (almost), fresh from the local store. No Big Basket or any online delivery for us yet!
Yes, my mother did teach me to bake a cake, mainly plain sponge cakes and banana cake. My aunt taught me to make puddings, really yummy ones. And while waiting for college admissions I joined a Chinese Cooking Class in Kolkatta! The best ‘Chinese’ food is found in restaurants in Kolkatta, in the rest of the country it is sawdust! To sum, all culinary skills learnt as a teenager were actually redundant for my daily life!
In the digital age there is no need to learn to cook, there are umpteen YouTube Cooking Channels that are for easy reference. Here is one I would recommend for North Indian taste, My Cousin Gunjan. “Cooking made easy with Gunjan” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvK2XMjySof1OcYByIiUsCQ/videos
And there are umpteen Cooking Blogs. Here is one on Kerala Cooking, My Cousin Anoo! https://anooverghis.wordpress.com/about/
This morning My Experiment with Truth in the kitchen followed one of these cooking channels as in the picture above. Reason: Our cook is on vacation to God’s Own Country for 10 days and it is a holiday! So the item for breakfast is Sabudana ki Khichidi! Sabudana is Sago and Khichidi is a lightly fried easy to cook snack.
First thing I do is check for ‘Sabudana ki Khichdi in microwave’ and I get NishaMadhulika.com as in the the video above. Rest is easy enough. Of course, I cannot be as sophisticated as in the video, but still I have managed to take some pictures of the ingredients, key missing one being a few spoons of lime juice. The intermediary step is the potatoes boiled, sorry microwaved, with some of the ingredients in oil.
And finally Sabudana Khichdi! And my experiment? Huum, we had run out raw peanuts, so substituted it with raw chana jor garam! Chana jor garam is chickpeas of a smaller version. Not exactly as tasty as fried peanuts! And the result? Not exactly a failed attempt. OK, husband did not jump for joy. It turned out a little more sticky than it should have been. It did not exactly look like the video version! But is that not what experiments are for? Fail and start again! Of course, I must emphasize, I did not fail. We had a hearty breakfast!
As such I would not recommend Microwave cooking for normal daily cooking! The harmful effects are many. Microwave cooking is particularly to be avoided in households that have children. Traditional cooking is best, traditional fresh vegetables are best. So happy experimenting in the kitchen dear friends!
Happy Gandhi Jayanti again! To end with a musical tribute to Gandhiji with his favourite bhajan (devotional song)!