Cooking is touted to be magical and therapeutic. So many people have found solace in it during the pandemic. I sulk when I don’t have anything to cook. Cooking is magic because it transforms one form into another. Do you know what a grimoire is? A grimoire is a book of magic spells. A cookbook is like a grimoire. It contains a list of ingredients, their quantities and the yield you can expect. It also gives detailed instructions, ingredient proportions and tells you how much heat or cold to apply and how long to apply it for. It also provides helpful tips, suggestions, and even advice on how to cook up the perfect dish.
The important thing to do here though is to be in a good mood because most of the time ingredients are handled by hand and who’s to say that that your feelings don’t pass through the food and get into your body. Would you really want to be nourished by negative and toxic thoughts and intentions?
Cooking as therapy: Cooking requires patience. You need to know what needs to be cooked for how much time on a low, medium, or high flame. All ingredients don’t cook at the same time. Some need more time than the others. For example, potatoes. They need more time to cook as compared to an egg. Similarly, if you apply a high flame to all ingredients the result would be burnt food! Cooking needs you to slow down, be in the moment and savor not only the tastes and aromas but also the experience. Cooking has the power to change perceptions and give hope.
Cooking as an art form: I was discussing this blog with my mother and she pointed out that vegetable carving is also a beautiful rendition of cooking as an art form. Think ice sculptures, icing a cake and garnishes. As my late food production instructor used to say, you eat first with your eyes and then your mouth. Hence, a good garnish can make or break a dish. Food presentation is so important that It has inspired a whole industry! I never thought about it but even cutting, chopping, and preserving food such as jams, jellies and pickles is an art form. The way a vegetable or meat is cut can determine the look, taste and the time required to cook the dish.
I was watching an interview with Varun Grover, a writer and stand up comic. Watch it via this link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLDVBIO7X9Y.. He compared cooking to mandalas which really made an impression on me Mandalas to those of you who don’t know, is a Buddhist art form that represents the cosmos metaphysically. Apparently, the monks don’t keep mandalas for display. They make them and immediately dismantle them. Cooking, he said, is exactly that. You create something. You enjoy it by consuming it and then it’s gone. You can’t showcase cooking.
Cooking and I: My relationship with cooking has been a complicated one. I belong to a family of hoteliers. So, exposure to the best of the foods from around the world happened very early in my life. In fact, it inspired a transcontinental trip as I went all the way to Africa to eat wild animals! The restaurant was called 'Carnivore' which specialized in rearing wild animals for the table. Their concept was akin to 'Barbeque Nation' much before it ever was ever launched. Where you are issued a white flag and asked to hoist it to signify the level of your satiety or maybe surrender to the hunger of your soul and your body,
It also helped that I like to experiment and try new things, hence understanding the dish, the ingredients, the process, the history always interested me. In fact, I pursued a course in hotel management where food production and baking both theory and practical, was something I learnt expression. But did I wish to pursue a career as a chef? Maybe not. I remember that I was surrounded by young boys and girls who were aspiring to be chefs. I wasn’t one of them. I think I learned how to cook by osmosis! My mother would recount how she made something a certain way or instruct the cook.
I never paid attention but perhaps my subconscious mind did. It recorded tips and tricks of the trade. Over time, especially as COVID struck, I seem to have refined the art to an extent that if there’s a day that I don’t have to cook anything I feel bored and a little let down. I think it’s the sense of adventure. Cooking engulfs me. I am mindful to stay out of the kitchen if I am not in a good mood, though, ironically, I could cook myself out of it! I hope this blog gives you a good perspective on cooking and perhaps inspires in you a chef or a home cook at the least.
Do you have it in you? It’s worth finding out. You can try by following a simple recipe by Shriya Ravi from ‘The Teen Tribune’ below. If you do remember to click a picture and post it on your Instagram account. Remember to tag ‘The Teen Tribune’, Shriya Ravi and myself.
RECIPE BY SHRIYA RAVI FOR THOSE WHO DETEST COOKING BUT ARE CURIOUS TO TRY:
Chocolate pancakes and ganache:
Cocoa powder | 1/2 cup
Whole wheat flour | 1 cup
Salt | 1 pinch
Sugar | 1/2 cup
Baking powder | 1/8 tsp
Milk | 3/4 cup
Water | 1 to 2 tbsp
Combine the dry ingredients and add the milk
If needed add water
The batter should be liquid
Heat a non stick and and add a few drops of oil or butter
Keep the flame medium
Pour the batter with a ladle and let cook
Flip the pancake and cook for a minute on both sides
Garnish with chocolate sauce or honey
Gorge till full!