"Dude I read your blog & saw that you wanted to start cooking. Stop having junk food all the time. Why don’t you come over to my place & I'll show you how to cook home made food". An innocuous enough statement from a call made by a long lost friend resulted in even more cullinary misadventures (much better word than mishaps) that I must share with the world.
A week after the call was made, I dropped into my friend's place and after talking about the good old days we got down to the cooking lessons. Now I am sure some of you men out there must be thinking - 'What sort of guy learns cooking? That is a woman's job. So what if it is 2011?' Apparently women like men who cook and seeing as women definitely don’t find guys like me funny, good looking or charming, cooking seems to be the last resort (on second thoughts, that sentence kind of makes me sound like a desperate man which I assure you I am not).
Back to the story. My friend was always known to be a little absent minded & I was pleased to see that time had not changed him one bit. 'What we are going to do today, is to create a feast. One that the contestants of Master chef Australia, America and Tunisia would be proud of.' I was a little hesitant when I heard this because I was assuming I would learn to swim by trying out the kids pond but this was like throwing me into shark infested waters. 'What we need is a dash of this, a sprinkling of that, 2 tea spoons of this and a generous dose of that to make the perfect dish (I must apologise for the prodigious use of the words this and that when it comes to the ingredients, I had no clue what my friend was talking about and have inserted the words this and that for each ingredient). He opened the main drawer below the stove and looked carefully at it for a few minutes. All I could see were a few bottles of common spices and a few pots and pans.
'Never mind, we can use this and that instead' he said cheerfully as he tossed in a handful of spices into the boiling water. 'You know what would make this perfect? A dash of this'. He opened the shelf above the stove this time and looked at it intensely. Since my friend was ummm adequately heighted (apparently short is such a mean word to use these days) I offered to help him take out the items which were just out of reach of his hands 'Do you want me to get the salt or pepper or the sugar?'. I wondered why he was looking at the shelf when the item he had mentioned was clearly not in it but I decided to keep my mouth shut.
'It appears that I don’t have it, will use that instead' he said as he opened the drawer below the stove and looked at it with perfect concentration once again. I’m no chef but I knew for a fact that the drawer did not contain the above mentioned spice. And yet my friend moved about a few items in the drawer and finally convinced that it was not there he said that we might have to ramp down the scale of our extravagant cullinary experiment for the evening (how can you not love the way an Indian MBA speaks?). With my visions of pork roast being dashed, I resigned myself to a slightly less satisfying dinner when my friend said "How would you like a vegetarian dish?" I’m no full blooded carnivore but vegetables aren’t exactly my idea of a sumptuous meal. I looked around and noticed that there weren’t any vegetables. In fact there wasn’t any chicken or pork or any other four legged animal either.
Sensing my unease my friend suggested that I go to the hall and watch football instead. I feebly protested, more from not wanting to see what he was making given the extremely limited resources than anything else. I occasionally peeped into the kitchen and each time I saw him standing there staring intently at the open drawer almost as if he was trying to conjure up some spices or herbs or even complete dishes by magic. A half an hour later he walked in triumphantly with 2 plates laden with food that smelled delicious.
As he placed it in front of me my smile vanished as I realised that he had prepared rice and daal! Yes, just rice and daal. To give the devil his due, it was tasty but seriously, rice and daal without any vegetables / curries? 'Isn’t this a lovely meal?' he asked and I replied that I hadn’t had a meal like this in years. Which brought a huge smile to his face. Well I didn’t lie, the last time I had only rice and daal was several years back when I was so sick that the only food which would go down my throat was (you guessed it) rice and daal.
On my way home that night, I recollected the events of evening with a smile until I spotted the sign outside the nearby midnight meal preparing roadside vendor, which said 'Budget meals - Rice, daal & potato Rs 10 only'. 2 seconds later, my far from being a chef friend called me up saying "Dude I just got off the phone with this really pretty girl from my office & I’ve offered to cook her dinner. Yay! (I never understood why he does the Yay!) Can you come and help ....". I didn’t get to hear the rest because I had switched off my phone & was walking home to snack on noodles & chips.