Ever tried cooking when you’re in the worst possible mood, battling the worst possible mood swings? There is something about the act that makes it therapeutic. Of course, all this applies if you like cooking. If you’re someone who hates the thought of stepping into the kitchen, this will probably seem insane to you. But, if you’re like me, cooking takes on a whole new meaning. People cook for many reasons. Some cook just to make something edible enough to fill their stomach, others to experiment with new tastes and flavours, yet others because they enjoy feeding others. For me, cooking falls into all three categories depending on my mood. The idea of transforming some altogether inedible vegetables into something amazingly delicious is so appealing that I don’t mind trying at the risk of going terribly wrong.
I like to cook because it gives me something to do when I am in a bad mood. I can chop, marinate, temper, simmer and garnish, without worrying about the umpteen things that this crazy mind of mine is filled with. As someone told me yesterday, my mind is so full of things: worries, thoughts, feelings, confusion…name it, and it’s there. Cooking gives me something to do with myself. And my mind. This is perhaps why I am partial to the older and less fuel-efficient way of slow cooking. Given a choice between the microwave and a coal-stove, I would use the coal stove. I have never understood why people prefer to bake their vegetables in the microwave before making a perfectly Indian curry; or steam them before putting it in tamarind juice for making sambar.
Call me old-fashioned, but there is something special about potato curry roasted in a mud pot, or rasam made in an eeya sombu. Sambar in a kalchetti tastes better than sambar in a non-stick handi. Channa sabzi cooked over a slow flame and simmered until thick tastes much better than channa sabzi microwaved to perfection by designer chefs. Pardon me for being the puritan, but filter coffee just doesn’t taste as good made in an electric coffee maker is it does in the conventional drip-type filter.
For me, cooking is an art, as well as a passion. I take the time to let the vegetables cook in their juices and absorbs the flavours of the spices I add. Maybe, just maybe I need to master the art of microwave cooking. But for some reason, my microwave oven continues to be a mere embellishment to my already gadget-filled kitchen. I promise to myself that someday, I will learn to make proper use of it…and use it the way it is meant to be!