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Adventures in the Kitchen

Like most people, I didn't spend much time in the kitchen before I was married.  I loved eating out, but when it came to cooking, I'd have happily lived on tea and sandwiches if no one was around to cook.  When I came to India, and got married to Yash, I just got busy having babies for a few years.  My mother-in-law was very active and on top of things in those days, and  more than was more than happy to keep things in control where the kitchen was concerned.  But by the time I'd been here about seven years, I was sick and tired of being told what a saint she was and how lucky I was.  I'd been brought up with the value that if someone puts food in front of you you should shut up and eat it.  No complaints please and remember your gratitude.  After a while you get fed up being grateful.  Not to mention having no right to complain.

It's not that Indian cooking is difficult, but it is what you might call an acquired skill.  Someone can tell you how to do it, but until you've put in the required time to practise, you won't get it completely right.  It takes time to develop a feel for what's okay and what's not.  I suppose that's true of all types of cooking.

My husband is quite a fussy eater.  For the first few years I was cooking, he was very kind and considerate.   Not anymore.  Now, mistakes in cooking are usually received with a sentence like:  "You're here fifteen years and you can't even cook rice/make chapatis/prepare curries properly." 

When I started to cook regularly I had to keep one thing in mind.  North Indian people eat unleavened bread with their food on a daily basis, so making the bread was a skill I had to learn on priority.  My husband and in-laws are vegetarian so I could forget about meat and concentrate on vegetables.  In Ireland, the preferred vegetable is potato, so I became quite skilful at preparing Indian style potatoes.  Slowly, I started learning the different dishes and have developed a reasonably good repertoire of recipes.  But there is one problem that yet bedevils me.  It's the matter of a spice called turmeric, or 'haldi' as it's called in Hindi.

Haldi is a beautiful golden coloured spice which is said to contain healing properties.  However, for some reason it doesn't cook very well for me.  Whenever I prepare a dish with haldi in it, my husband claims that the haldi is not cooked properly.  At best, he'll push the dish away.  At worst, verbal abuse follows, something along the lines of the above given example, with a few expletives thrown in.  I don't take it too personally as I know him quite well and I understand that food is a big thing for him. 

However, the advent of ready mixed curry powders has been a huge blessing for me.  I found something in the market called 'sabzi masala', which is a readymade mix of curry powders that can be added to vegetable dishes.  Instead of mixing the spices, I just add that mixture, with some salt, and that's it.  Some dishes require different types of spice mixtures.  Kidney beans (rajma) require rajma masala, chickpeas  require their own masala, and so on.  This has saved my dinner on many occasions.  I'm still trying to get the hang of cooking haldi, though.  My sister-in-law first puts in water and then fries it in oil.  I tried that, but it didn't work for me.  I  suppose I have a bit more to learn.  But I'm not too bad really.  Considering that I didn't grow up eating this food!

Comments

  1. Hi Gaelikaa, your cooking Indian food and that by itself is great.I too cook north Indian food,cooking methods differ from house to house,I just add the spices to the oil then the vegetables and when it's 3/4 done, the haldhi & masalas go in with some salt.FRY the halhi etc for 2min or till veggies are cooked.Happy cooking.

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  2. Tip from an expert! One can use haldi with water in dals, but if you are frying it in oil, it should always be accompanied by a little bit of red chilly powder, if the recipe does not call for the latter.

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  3. I'm afraid that I would not accept such rudeness from someone who had their meal prepared for them, especially my husband. If you don't like what I fix, don't eat it but don't you dare berate me for it.

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  4. Thankfully I never had any complaint about food from Jack. My father was very different, complaining all the time, this from a man who never cooked in his life. One day when my mother was ill and I was on cooking duty (after school) I came to the table with his dinner, he was grumbling as usual. As I was about to set the plate in front of him, I stopped with the plate in mid air and said that if there were any complaints about my cooking he could do it himself from then on! I suggest you do the same with Yash! Tell him to prepare the family meal if he knows so much about it and let you watch and learn. Marriage is a two way thing, EQUAL PARTNERSHIP!

    Grannymar

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  5. I think I'd be a bit hurt if I had too much criticism from my husband about my cooking. He always eats everything I cook for him...whether Turkish food or English..always says "that was very nice...thankyou".

    Now I'm pretty certain that he can't possibly think everything I cook is lovely...I know it's not! But I'm happy not knowing!

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  6. My husband likes very plain food so it doesn't take much time to cook for him. It bothered me when we were first married because I wanted to explore different dishes, but then I realized how lucky I was. I could use all the time I was saving doing other creative things.

    I think it's great that you can get some pointers from other people. Thank goodness for blogging! It turns situations like this into an adventure if you can share them with other people. At least that's the way it works for me.

    Bless you!

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  7. I LOVED READING...IT!!!IT WAS FUN READING...BUT.....FACING..THAT SITUATION IN REALITY..IS TERRIBLE!!!

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  8. I can't say that I'd have any idea what fresh turmeric looks like. I keep dried turmeric and very rarely use it because I'm not really sure where it belongs. I was told fish, but it never quite seems like the right flavour for it, to me. Anyway, good for you for persisting despite the lack of appreciation. That would get me down.

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  9. "You're here fifteen years and you can't even cook rice/make chapatis/prepare curries properly."

    - Really? My husband would be cooking his own dinner if he tried that.

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