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May 2, 2007

I can cook!

I have been cooking and baking for a really long time. I started blogging recently and in the past week, I discovered food blogs. My favourite so far has been Dr. Nandita Iyer's Saffron Trail, which I visit regularly. Her blog is informative and very well presented. And I have been inspired to put up recipes of everyday stuff that I make.

Being part Chitrapur Saraswat and part Iyengar meant that I grew up with a variety of vegetarian dishes. I don't remember feeling that anything Amma placed in front of us was repetitive or boring. My classmates still find it extremely funny that we would have soup and crackers for dinner and not want to "eat" after that. Or that we would eat sandwiches or a bowl of fruit for lunch and sometimes have pasta or pizza for dinner.

I started baking when I was 10, thanks to a book my mother picked up for 50 cents when she was living in the US: The Ann Pillsbury Book of Baking. The recipes were so easy to try out and Amma never worried about the messy kitchen. I spent all the time in the morning watching Amma cook. Come to think of it, I doubt I lent a helping hand... but I watched... standing on one foot. (And that unnerved Amma!). When I was 13, my aunt needed to undergo surgery and Amma rushed to be by her side and I took over the kitchen. It helped that Appa and H, my brother, were very supportive. They didn't complain about the salt less rasam or the semia upma that I made with twice the amount of water.

Then, at the Madras Book Fair, we discovered Tarla Dalal. And that opened up a whole new world for me. I started with a new soup for lunch everyday during my 3.5 month long vacation after my tenth boards. Soon, I was making handmade pasta with lovely sauces. For H's 21st birthday the following year, I made lunch for 10 people. Starting with cream of carrot soup and ending with a black forest cake with navaratan pulao, vegetable jhalfrazie and shahi paneer. (Much as I have a great memory, I met Prajakta, a friend of H's and mine 2 weeks ago who was at that lunch and she recalled each and every dish. I forgot everything other than the cake.) Marriage brought into my life, not only my dearest friend, but one of the greatest fans of my experiments. The shift from "Do I really need to cook?" to "what should I try out today?" is mostly thanks to S, my better half.

A few years ago, Amma discovered the Chennai Culinary Institute and did a host of courses from there. I got to try out a lot of recipes from those classes. Constant browsing got me recipes of unusual things such as butterscotch brownies and oatmeal cookies. More recently, I discovered that my hotel management friends could give me a lot of new ideas and also that chefs at restaurants do share recipes. Most recently, however, I discovered food blogs. And I decided to blog about my experiments with food.

4 comments:

Nandita said...

Raaga,
It is so touching for all the praise and appreciation you've showered on me...You should be a bornchef instead of singing chef...Parents and family does have so much of a role in shaping our talents and your story reinforces my belief in it...I would hardly be in the kitchen if it were not for the dear husband's love for ANYTHINg I make! I am so looking forward to your posts, and glad to have another fellow blogger from India!

Raaga said...

Thanks Nandita. I am truly inspired :) by your blog.

My husband too is my BIG inspiration and will relish anything I make.

I may not upload pictures :) but will start loading recipes soon.

Srivalli said...

Hi Raaga..its very nice to read this...feels good to know you take time to post everyday what you cook..

Srivalli
www.cooking4allseasons.blogspot.com

La said...

Hi Raaga, Somehow came to your blog from Escapades. i like to read and your writing style appeals to me and i think i identify with the "someone who loves to talk". Am bookmarking your site and will be coming back to you often.