Erm, What’s Cooking Doc?

You could classify cooking as a ‘nice to have’ skill and you would be horribly wrong. Cooking is an art. It’s right up there with painting and sculpture (excluding the modern variations, of course). Just as music soothes your soul, a well prepared meal satisfies your hunger, repairs your body and plays with your senses.

I did not always subscribe to this line of thought.

It all started a short while ago as one of those stupid things people do, once a year, typically while under the influence – a new year’s resolution. Mine involved eating healthier. Simple to visualize but not so easy to implement. It completely upset the apple cart. No matter where you live, eating healthier just means half the restaurants that aren’t out of bounds for the diet are out of bounds for the wallet. For some reason, the moment you serve anything healthy, organic or vegan, it automatically justifies doubling the prices. With most of the restaurants in the vicinity off the menu, the eating healthier resolution basically warped into an “I will cook my own food” regime which isn’t what was originally intended. But a real man would lose all his machismo if anyone found out that he dropped his new year’s resolution on day 3.

Breakfast is simple enough to get by without showing up your massive cooking handicap to the world. It’s called a fruit salad. Even the food-critics who make master-chef contestants cry (though that’s probably the contestant eligibility criteria) won’t sling any mud at anyone who cooks a fruit salad for breakfast. Maybe not. Anyway, 3-4 fruits, chop-chop-chop. Done.

Lunch and dinner is a different battle field with different rules.

Initially, I approached the task by throwing caution to the winds. Some bachelors lurking in the shadows of their neighborhood McDonalds might’ve laughed at my naivety. But, how hard could it be right? Take beer battered prawns for example. Beer is the nectar of the Gods. And prawns merely exist to provide palatable pleasure. Both are freely available on the shelves of your regular supermarket. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that merging two things that taste amazing would only produce a super-food. So the only cooking involved would be to whip up a beer batter; which won’t take more than 10 minutes. Dip the prawns in the batter, fry until golden brown and serve while hot. Too easy. I’ve hidden behind my vegetarian inclinations, and given this one a miss. But you get my point.

Fast forward a month and a recent series of setbacks have served to realign my outlook on the matter. Some funny guy said – “a toaster has 2 settings, too soon or too late” and so the cooking has carried on relentlessly. Given my new found experience, I feel qualified and obliged to share some invaluable lessons with you in order to get you on your way.

  • A common mistake is to rationalize that rotis (Indian bread) are more economical (time and money) when purchased at the restaurant down the road. And once you’ve walked all the way for the rotis..
  • When cooking lentils and beans, in order to reduce cooking time by a few hours, soak overnight first.
  • Even though the benefits of mass production might seem appealing at the time, never cook the entire bag of chick peas at one shot unless you’re feeding 10 people. Or else your dreams will smell of hummus.
  • Adding corn to your vegetarian tomato based pasta will do wonders. Raw corn not so much.
  • Less salt infinitely better than more salt.
  • Eggs are fragile and easily damaged. They are not to be stored in confined areas (such as trouser pockets) while transporting to destination or else eating an omelet for breakfast will be the best case scenario. Additionally transport by bicycle is only to be considered in developed economies.
  • Blenders are best run with their lids on.
  • In case you do not have a blender, pour yourself a beer. Then wrap stuff-to-be-blended in a clean towel and pound the towel with the empty beer bottle until the perfect consistency is achieved.
  • When 2 grown men can’t open a jam bottle, the bottle must be defective. Don’t be ashamed to destroy it with your Swiss army knife. If you have no Swiss Army Knife, heat the lid over a flame. Voila!
  • Cooking a salad is so easy, it shouldn’t even be counted as cooking. Be warned that an extra spoonful of vinegar could cause the salad to self-destruct.
  • If you drop anything on the floor, remember that the 5 second rule applies. If you’re running out of time, kick the food and your 5 second count-down restarts.
  • If you can’t get rid of the grime in used vessels, boil coca cola in it and witness some kitchen magic.
  • And if you can take anything away from this, under no circumstances no matter how delusional, must a beginner attempt to bake bread.

On the whole, cooking is an economical, satisfying, creative, easy to learn, experimental art. Don’t be afraid to mix powdered dark chocolate, melted goat’s cheese, and blanched tomatoes with rice just to see what happens. Get your hands dirty and let loose your inner chef. Though I’ve got my money on you botching up the beer-battered-prawns.

And if everything fails, you always know that we live in an age where pizza gets to your house before the police.

Lunch is Served

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