Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The art of cooking

Here is your book, the one your thousands of letters have asked us to publish. It has taken us years to do, checking and rechecking countless recipes to bring you only the best, only the interesting, only the perfect. Now we can say, without a shadow of doubt, that every single one of them, if you follow the directions to the letter, will work for you exactly as well as it did for us, even you have never cooked before.
-McCall's Cookbook(1963)

These lines have been quoted at the beginning of a very famous book, a book that is called the Programmers' Bible. So, cooking and programming aren't really as different as they seem to be. And as you can see in the picture, I got interested at quite an early age (I'm the interested kid in the picture, not the one actually cooking). So, I thought cooking my food would be the right thing to do after coming to Hyderabad. At least it would be a righter thing to do than eating the food available here. And I had my cousin's (the other child in the photo) example to follow: he has become an expert cook after going to the US. So one fine day, I started cooking.

Now since I am a programmer, I prefer to follow a certain sequence of steps when I want to cook a new dish. Here are those steps:

1. Email mom and ask for the algo... er...recipe.
2. Get a print out of the recipe and highlight the ingredients needed.
3. Go to a shop and buy those ingredients.
4. Cook the dish, keeping the print out in front. If I get stuck, I call up mom and clarify.
5. Delay till the flatmates are very hungry. Then announce that the food has been cooked horribly today...they should gulp it down somehow etc. This never fails to draw appreciation from the eaters.
6. Serve the food.
7. Eat it.

So far I have learnt to cook rice, fried rice, dal (pulses), cauliflower curry, cabbage curry, okra, cabbage cutlets, pancakes, gourd, bitter gourd, poppy seeds, egg curry, chicken curry, mutton curry and several other dishes that are my own concoction. Ah yes, I forgot to say luchis i.e. pooris made of white flour. That's what I made for dinner tonight. They were almost round this time, reasonably soft and one of them even puffed up while frying. The last time when I made them, that is the first time, they were too crisp. And their shapes were amazing! I mean believe it or not, one was shaped exactly like the map of Australia, and that too happened unintentionally. Each one had a unique shape, and 'round' was not one of those shapes.

Since I started cooking, four people have left our flat. Three of them have left their job and moved out of the city. The only person staying with me is the one on a diet. I hope that this has got nothing to do with my cooking! As far as I'm concerned, I'm very fond of my food, and I've gained a lot of weight in the last few months. I like cooking as well as eating. Cooking is at least easier than programming... the eaters don't throw errors when you do something wrong.

My solitary flatmate is out of station for a week, so the flat is all mine now. This is the proper time for me to improve and improvise and I'm making the best use of it. I even invited a friend for dinner on Saturday night. It was fun (except for cutting the onions; that made me cry as usual).

So my advice to all non-cooking readers is, "Start cooking. If you cook well, you'll gain a lot of good friends. If you don't, you can get rid of a lot of bad ones."


  1. hai dekchi bhalo ooye suru korecho...atleast photo te to bhalo lagchey...n i really appreciate ur cooking attitude...though people call me a gr8 cook but than also roti , puri n all this stuff is those things i avoid...really good to knw fr m u about that

  2. Hey Sugata... Nice to know that you have started cooking & have made ppl walk out of ur flat... Keep the enthu going... It could be of some help in later life.. just in case if ur wife doesnt know to cook :-)

  3. I will not leave you till cook Mutton for me. I am ready to come this week end too for that.

  4. @tultuli:Ok, ok...enough! I feel as if Sachin Tendulkar is praising my batting skills! And this after you gave me the idea for that post...

    @nishamathi:If wife doesn't cook, I can make her walk out too!

    @abhijit:Sure buddy! Where else will I get such a willing guinea-pig?

  5. d pics r lovely..
    three cheers for ur cooking enthu..well..u cud mention this in ur matrimonial advt..u'll get amazin response!!
    ur wife is gonna be so happy..that is..hopefully if she doesnt end up walking out too..!!
    but am sure u'll soon b'cum some tv show range cook with this enthu..!!ob..!

  6. Hehe , sahi hai beta .... sikh le yahi kaam aayge saddi ke baad :P

    Waise ye picture bahut bahdiya hai , badiya bole to uttam quality ka ... maan ko chuu gaya mere !!

    isee tarah likhte raho mitr .. aacha lagta hai padne main .. aur ab khane main bhi :D :D

  7. hey ,,,when r u inviting me for lunch or dinner,,,,now you have learnt so many dishes so please atleast once you can invite me...And I am sure you would be great cook...so I am waiting for your invitation;-)

  8. m i invited ??
    well m nt talkin of 2day.... may b sm 100 yrs frm now ;-)

  9. @why was i born: Yeah... at least I can get a cooking job if the IT market goes down...

    @hemu: Dhanyavaad... although I don't really intend to cook after marriage... ;-)

    @bhavana: Here's your invitation... You can walk in any time here... just call beforehand and let me know!

    @aurindam: You are invited anytime... just give me a call and drop in!

  10. invited ya fine.
    but i, unlike u,prefer eatable food. so i thought i better come after 100 yrs or so....
    for how much i kno of u .... u r only good at cooking up stories!!

  11. @aurindam:At least I try to cook, and don't survive by eating Gems! :-p

  12. bhari antarango lekha. khub bhalo laaglo. aar chobi-ta darun. kashaa mangsho-ta rapto kore phelun ... aami haajir hobo.

  13. @hutumthumo:Hmm nischoi, mangser jhol to kortei pari, ebar kasha mangso-o shikhe felbo. Tarpor jakhon khushi ese hajir haben!