Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts

12 September, 2010

Tarnished Torai


The making of torai (sponge gourd or tori) is not as difficult as it may appear to some. That the idea of even embarking on as ridiculous a task as cooking the most pathetic of all vegetables may not appeal to your senses (gastronomic, cullinary or otherwise) is an emotion I can well comprehend. You may argue that no one in their senses would want to indulge in the seemingly useless activity of cooking something as banal and utterly uninspiring as the humble torai and perhaps I couldn't agree more. But anyone can make a great dish of the lissome  Bhindi or the Stuper Star Spud; our friendly potato. These limelight grabbers are pre-dispositioned to tickle the taste buds - they can't help being delicious. They are well-loved and have a dedicated mass of fans. They pirouette among the vegetables in the market, willing you to buy them, promising sumptuous meals of mouth-watering glee.

But what of the ignored Cucurbits? The Languishing Laukis (bottle gourd) and the Timid Tindas (Indian apple gourd). You turn up your nose at them. They are the taste bud tarnishers. With an appearance so unappealing one can barely imagine the horrors they could unleash in your gut. They are so watery! Wasn't such aqueous consistency reserved for things of dubious character? And even the spices, no matter of which exotic descent, retaliate in sheer disgust at these Cumbersome Cucurbits, refusing to grace them with any flavour. Who would want to associate with the scum of the vegetable world? The undisputed untouched outcasts. 

But making a good thing  better is mediocrity. Adopting the unloved is what my gracious soul sought to accomplish. And so I took up the cause of the torai: shunned and unloved. I tried to salvage the reputation of the Tarnished Torai. Which I did. With aplomb. The proof of the Torai is, of course, in the Tasting. And what a splendid taste it had! If I must say so myself. But then with these potatoes putting on such audacious performances, one has to blow one's trumpet. Loud and clear. After all, it is for the humble torai I speak.

27 January, 2008

Rape of the Senses Part II

The women of the house were away. The man and the girls were to fend for themselves. :O It was kalyug indeed. And a fearful one at that. The women had left reluctantly, fearing to find their family emaciated and ravenous on their return. The man was fearful of what he was going to have to put in his mouth the following week. He had suffered the onslaught of the girls' previous cullinary experiments with feigned bravado. The mere thought of a rerun made his taste buds curl in retaliation.


The girls themselves were scared of the daunting task ahead of them. Three meals a day! All edible, at least to some extent. Breakfast was easy, rustle up a few fruits, bread and cheese and some milk. That couldn't be Herculean. Little did they know. The milk boiled over ofcourse. The cheese was the one thing the women had told them to buy. With nothing to serve the bread with, they plastered some jam onto the on-the-verge-of-cinder slices. Didn't they know the man didn't eat jam?

"Come on who doesn't eat jam?" exclaimed Girl 1.

"I don't", replied Girl 2. Gaah.

The bigger meals came and disappeared with more significant mishaps, ruinous remains of perfectly innocent gobhis and baigans, and two harried souls. The man smiled amusedly at the antics in the kitchen: shrieks of horror, oh-my-gods, sighs of relief, blame games, tasting sessions followed by lengthy comments and advice on how to save the meal at hand. There were heated arguments at every stage of the process. Should the beans be cut into one inch cylinders or one centimeter cylinders? The units were crucial. Should we cook in oil or ghee? Now that we have too much water in the rice, should we just drain it off or keep it on the fire and let it dry up? See I told you we shold drain it, now the rice is all gooey. Hey we could turn it into kheer. Ya sure. The daal has been pressure cookered beyond recognition. Do you think the man will notice? And thus went on the tirade of whose question is more calamitous and thus elicits an immediate response.

Anyway.

If the cauliflower was put in the middle it would've actually looked like the tricolour. Interesting. The award for finest artistic chopping of coloured cubes goes to Girl 1. Girl 2 was busy getting mesmerized by the colours.

Cooking is a colourful activity. A rape of the senses. Pour in the oil. Watch it make designs on the bottom of the pan. Let it heat. A handful of mustard seeds get thrown in, sputtering in delight to be reunited with their long lost cholestrolic friend (reminiscint of the relationship Q shares with U in a game of Scrabble). The chishhhh sound as you empty out the cabbage into the pot. The smell of its wholesome greenery simmering over the now quiet mustard seeds. The yellow and red powders sprinkled in generous abandon. Adding colour, tingling in their hued flavours. A cook is a magician at work. Hands work tirelessly - sometimes with lazy precision, sometimes in hasty circles; slicing, grating, creating, redoing. A spoon is lifted to the mouth. You taste your concoction. The broth needs tang your mind says. The smells urge your nose to have an opinion. You smile, you frown, you wonder and make-up. You prompt, you pre empt.

A week later the girls were found with their legs propped up gorging on humungous pizzas. Ordered ofcourse.

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