I know the theme is 'Women'. And how awe-struck I am. Reading serious poems and abortion posts in this forum - I questioned which of their traits do I miss the most. The answer - Cooking. I miss my mom's great culinary skills, or my girlfriend cooking a simple daal-sabji for me. Today, as I was cooking all alone, I thought of sharing this great Secret recipe as a tribute to all the women in my life, who've fed me for the past twenty odd years.
And of course, to bring some smile to the grim we've managed to create this month!
Cooks, Crooks... Or, Musicians.
As T.N Seshan learnt that I was from Pallakad (southern tip of the Western Ghats in Kerala), he asked me which one am i? I replied, am an MBA - you figure it out!
However, your genes leave you seldom. My great granddad had a restaurant in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar). When Burma and India officially split, a partition not talked about often, as the other infamous one - many families including mine had to leave our flourishing establishments in Rangoon and return to our native in and around Pallakad. Coimbatore, Erode, Gobichettypalayam in today's Tamil Nadu; and Pallakad, Guruvayur in Kerala.
Boundaries hardly matter. Your skills stay with you no matter where you head. So, as I spend my time posing as a consultant in the Silicon Valley, am secretly doing what my destiny has in store for me. I cook, and I sing. (The crook part of it is synonymous with the consultant part of it). Today I'm here to share with you The Secret, through a chosen recipe. A Secret which has been protected by Gods (remember, I'm from God's Own Country!?! ;) It has traveled through war and peace, through countries and continents; by air, sea or on elephant-backs. Today, ladies and gentlemen - Is a historic occasion. Not only because a secret is being revealed, but also because a rebel, a Buddha - is born. As you read ahead, traditions will be tattered, and conventions, broken. Free will, a soaring soul shall unleash the power of human choice - a choice which prostrates ancient wisdom, but not without a salman-khan twist.
Recipe of the Day: Corn, Tomato and Spinach curry
(A list of ingredients and quantities can be obtained by posting a comment to the author below. For now, the procedure follows).
Put some tel in a non-stick container with two ears. (Warning: Please note All the minutest details, any miss could lead to a potential disaster. Follow to the T)
Turn on the heat. (Oh ho... come on... don’t always think about 'that thing'. We're cooking here, as in a 'real meal'... As in... ufff... every statement has a loop & a hole it seems... Ohh... Cant help it, perverts!)
Put jeera, heeng (asafoetida, or whatever the angrez call it); red chili powder (of mizo mirchi fame, the kinds which Professor Pillai threatened to put in our arse if we acted naughty in school); haldi (harmless haldi, I like haldi - innocent haldi, not pungent, not sweet, not sour, not hot... helps you recover from cold when mixed with milk, or helps your roop to nikhrao if applied as vicco turmeric ayurvedic cream - twacha kee raksha kare antiseptic cream).
Mix well. Add onions, till brown. (The kind of brown which matches your skin color. Oh ho, No offence. Oh, Who said that that, who used that 'racist' term... Sa%*la.. Fuck#@.. [email protected]#[email protected]#od, dare you not call me a 'racist'! Abusive, shameless! Using fowl remarks... #[email protected]@#$ (The last word was 'badwaa rascal' - a common malayali swear word, not used anymore in English language)
Add beer (preferably cheap Heineken - Budweiser will make the Dish more salty, Corona if you prefer a pungent taste. Trust me, Heineken is mild)
Tip: Take a few sips yourself, as the next part of the journey is darn tough.
Add a can of corn, a can of sliced tomatoes.
Parallely put Palak (spinach) in a bowl. (Use of 'palak' was for the poetic effect, alliteration). Add some water, and put the palak (ha ha again, i like it! :) in a microwave for 1 min.
Add palak to the potent dish. (I know, potent was totally not-needed here, but - It starts with a 'P'! - remember, palak, potent - alliteration!)
Stir well, while adding some garam masala.
The art of cooking lies in being on the brim. Not too far, not too close. Not very confident, not too unsure. It's as nimble as a ballet, balancing a thousand stars around a sun in the platform not-as-vast as the universe! Chances of collision are huge, and a spoon of salt more could kill the entire effort. Especially, if you are on the verge of the third Heineken heading towards this last phase. Read on, carefully.
Add water with a bit of tomato puree. Mix well. For the truly brave souls, put some vodka (Absolut, and nothing else). Just a spoon is enough, to give that sparkling effect.
Mix more. (Alliteration with 'M')
Add some cheese. (This twist is not mentioned in the ancient scriptures, it is a direct result of an earlier experiment gone wrong with tortillas, which led us to a surplus of cheese, half micro waved, ready to be rescued)
Mix more. (Ah, I've done it again)
Any dish which is so 'liquid' in nature, needs some binder. Use 'sattu'. Add 1 spoon of sattu to half a glass of water, and pour the concoction to the dish. A healthy alternative to using besan, trust me!
Mix more. (I'm a genius, where's my Nobel!?!)
Put the knob of the burner to Mid-Low, and cover the non-stick container with two ears with its lid.
Let it cook itself for 2 minutes. (My ancient uncle said - The cook feeds himself. What he meant was - The food cooks itself. Burma being closer to China, South Indians of yore were poor in grammar once upon a time) Ah, no.. how dare you bring on the 'racist' comment again! You racist, you #[email protected]@#$
Ok, now comes the final cut, the last stop. Adding salt. The trickiest part of the art, it’s filled with tension; a la tendulkar in his nervous nineties. You can score 99, but the last 1 run will put your name amongst the greats or the goats. Either you are heard, or you are a part of the herd. That's why, the most expert of cooks too will not give you a measure. Add salt to taste, is all they can say. Cheapsters. When I was a novice, training under the one who cannot be named (you don’t take the name of your ustaads, do you? Just put a hand to your ear, and you know the ustaad was a great soul.) Likewise, when my ustaad used to teach me how to cook, I would put my left hand to my right ear - and always bungle this one. Lifelong, his only comments were - More salt, less salt. Or - less salt, more salt. Never, no more salt, or no less salt. Over the years though, partially as a gift of the gods, as a legacy of the great genes - and partially through my own sweat - I've mastered this art. The secret, literally is to drop two, exactly two drops of sweat into the dish. It's watery-salty nature, lends a perfect blend, the aforementioned balance!
So, there you go. Serve the sabji/curry or whatever 'names' you need to give to the heavenly art - with hot rice. Or roti. Or tortilla-de-patatas. Or devour as soup (If you're too lazy like my room-mates to cook anything more).
The secret, or rather 'secrets' are out. All over the place, through this recipe. For more, please do drop in a 'fan' mail or a comment below.
May peace prevail. (Alliteration with 'P', I cannot believe I don’t have the FedEx # for my Nobel yet!)
- A NoMAD