The day that wasn't

Yesterday should have been a historical day in the life of the Chennai girl.

At 8.30 pm last evening, I was seized by a sudden urge to cook dinner. But what? The obvious starting point was vendekkai, okra, ladyfinger. That was enough; I grabbed my bag and walked to the supermarket.

It's not a good idea to go to the supermarket when you are hungry. You end up buying the most random things - simply everything looks appealing. After getting my shopping basket heavy with a bag of oats, kiwi, butter, Nuttella and such unnecessary stuff, I finally walked to the vegetables section. Potatoes looked good. Did we have onions? I don't know, why don't I throw them in anyway. Tomatoes, ah, yes.

The basket was too heavy to handle by now, so I decided to skip the cauliflower and capsicum. Struggling with three bags, I came home, turned the music on extremely loud so I can hear it in the kitchen all the way from my room. I had no idea what I was doing, but was elated for some reason. Turns out I did have onions, by the way. Never mind, chop them up. Blanch the tomatoes to make puree. Boil the potatoes in a microwave. And chop the baby okra.

I threw them into the cooking pot one by one, adding in spices as I wished. Pepper. Cumin. Coriander. Chilli. A generous helping of salt. Added some water. Dumped the potatoes and okra in, and closed the pot. My own recipe. And when I removed the lid to check it after five minutes, darn it, it smelled good. Quite good.

I was shocked. Really. This was the most I'd done in my life outside of those cook-vegetables-add-salt-chill-powder-and-coconut, and minor variations of the same recipe, the most I've deviated from this being for dal. Remember, I'm talking about cooking by myself here.

I gingerly opened the lid to the pot again. It still smelled good.

I did a little jig in joy. I can cook! And it's nothing, my mind reasoned in happiness. Cooking is totally overrated. If you have the interest, it's a cakewalk. I was immensely pleased. I was already thinking of what I could tell my mom on the phone later that evening. 'Yup, it was my invention!' I'd proudly say. And I knew that mum would be heaving a sigh of relief and laugh at my excitement.

I switched it off just when the okra was starting to turn squishy. Yup, just fine. Excited beyond words, I dunked a spoon in and tasted it. The thing was friggin' hot, obviously, and I couldn't taste a thing. Ah, it can't be bad - and so it went on a plate.

My first reaction upon eating was that it was, erm... missing something. It wasn't salt, I'd learnt to identify that some three years back. The spices were ok. Not that it tasted bad, but something was off. I was disappointed. I thought long and hard for five minutes, and finally decided it had to be the bloody tomatoes. Those awful orange tomato-thingies you get in Singapore. They were the cause for my rasam tasting like boiled water, and now they had ruined my precious dish. The more I ate my preparation, the more convinced I was that it was the tomatoes - yes, that weird, tangy taste from pulikkara tomatoes. Bummer.

I was disappointed only for five minutes. Mum called soon after and I excitedly told her about the dish. 'Vendekkai and potatoes?!' she asked. 'Uh-huh. And it doesn't taste bad, except the tomatoes ruined the taste a bit,' I said. 'Err... ok!' she concluded, and went on to discuss how the pulikaachal she'd given me was doing. As long as it's not Maggi, mum is happy with whatever I cook. I guess she's just happy I'm getting my fingers burnt. The daughter who used to run away from the kitchen if the mixer was on or if mom was spluttering mustard seeds, has grown up.

And so you realize why yesterday should have been a historic day, and yet didn't quite turn out to be one. But of course, as with anything else, I move on.The biggest take-away from yesterday's incident was that it reaffirmed my delayed realization that cooking isn't that difficult at all. A little interest and involvement, and you're there already. Now, it's time to build that interest and involvement. For right now, any interest only stems from not wanting to eat anything else that's already out there (no Subway, no MOS, no Sticky Rice - ok, let me cook!)

P.S.: How do you like the new template? I spent over an hour going blind searching for the perfect one (not girly, not Manga, not grunge-rock, nothing too artsy, nothing too simple - I know, I'm a nightmare), only to choose the first one I'd seen and bookmarked. I realized with horror that my basic HTML skills have gone down the drain, and stared at the 60 pages (on Word) of code before giving up trying to edit it.


Bhargavi said...

Oi lady,
Nice template, except that your blog title is worth a tuppariyum saambu's precious time! :D And, congrats on the could-have-been-historic-day! :) Many many more to come!

Vani Viswanathan said...

Haha.. I'm telling you, I really need to figure out the HTML thing, I've become hopeless!

And yeah, I know I'm getting there with the cooking ;) I hope the next time it's the d-day itself (and not a day that could've been!).

Mani said...

I started loving your blog