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Updated: January 19, 2011 16:38 IST

Cooking confessions

S. BETSY RACHEL
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Cooking experiments: This is how we learn. Photo: K.Pichumani
The Hindu
Cooking experiments: This is how we learn. Photo: K.Pichumani

This Christmas, I decided that I wouldn't bother my mom with all the cooking responsibilities. Two weeks before Christmas, I decided to surprise my family with my non-existent culinary skills.

Kitchen adventures

I chose a safe day when my parents and sisters were away from home. With an apron tied like a shield and armed with an egg beater and little experience, I cheerfully trudged to the kitchen with full faith and enthusiasm, having decided to make a ‘yummy chocolate cake.' A post-it stuck to the refrigerator had a neatly written recipe of the cake.

The recipe looked very simple. I could already imagine my dark brown cake. Happily, I plunged fully into work. Midway, I discovered that I was short of eggs. Soon, I went out to get eggs and got back to work on the batter. After half an hour, I closed the oven.

Next, I decided to get started on murukku. As I pressed the idiyappam-squeezer I found that the murukku dough wouldn't settle down into that perfect rows of circles but went into various directions according to its own sweet will. One particular murukku even resembled suspiciously like a hippopotamus.

After abandoning the attempts to perfect the shape of the murukkus, I deep fried them using mustard oil (a decided departure from the traditional coconut, sunflower or groundnut oil used in our house as I read somewhere that mustard oil was healthier than other oils). They came out in the appropriate white-brown colour.

Trial and error

Suddenly, a weird smell pervaded the kitchen. Shoot! I had forgotten the cake. I switched off the stove and opened the oven. The cake looked slightly burnt. I gingerly tasted a piece of it by sticking in a spoon. It wasn't so bad. But the problem was that the cake refused to leave the baking vessel. I had forgotten to grease the vessel. I looked with horror at the shapeless lumps of cake which I had managed to pry out of the vessel.

Then I turned my attention to the murukku, not sure anymore. I took a bite of it and nearly broke my teeth. I surveyed the disaster in the kitchen feeling heartbroken.

When my family came back, my sister, directed by the smell of food came into the disaster zone. ‘YOU made all this?' she was surprised. Not knowing what to say I nodded helplessly. She tasted a lump of cake and said, ‘Shapeless yes, and a little burnt, but still edible. Not bad.' Then she tried gnawing at the murukku and started laughing, ‘Rachel, I need a hammer.' She said.

I was on the verge of tears when the funny side of whole thing struck me. I laughed along with her till my sides ached. That day I learnt that a good cook needs more than enthusiasm and energy, practice and patience.

S. Betsy Rachel, III B.A. English, WCC.

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