We had a great Thanksgiving weekend.Our friend Hemant was visiting us. I met him after 5 years(yes,can’t believe it). But in these great era of technologies sometimes no distance is great enough to have a good friend. During his short visit we were talking (when kids allowed us to talk) about our first common interest Food and my life with kids. I was telling him about my new blog and he was telling me how he also started cooking as a kid. The one thing we both agreed on was it’s important to learn and love cooking before you actually have to (not want to but have to) do it.
And it was his birthday on the first day of this workshop !!! So we celebrated it with cake and the dish he asked me to me make.
It was only after he left i checked the assignment for the workshop. And I thought who could be a better candidate but Hemant. He is some of the few tried and trusted sources of my cooking experiments. And I remember him voluntarily cooking a meal for 15 of us on a camping trip(when nobody even wanted to make a coffee for themselves). only after this interview I actually understand why he did it.
I took the interview on phone. First I wished if I knew it earlier we could have talk in person. But now that I have done it on phone I Liked it better this way. Lot of the questions I asked were the questions I have asked myself over the time or have answered myself to other people. As both of us are Indian we feel talking in Hindi more comfortable,plus recipes and culture we talked about was mostly Indian. I will try to give meaning of Hindi word ,but feel free to ask questions.
Why do you cook,As an INDIAN MAN ?
I think the way we behave now has very much connection to the we have been brought up. First thing our parents taught us was equality and independence. In the times I was growing up it wasn’t very common that a boy take interest in the kitchen and the parent encourage them to do so.But both my parents knew the importance of this life saving skill (yup,you can’t survive without food and can’t live on take-outs for life).
So my mom insisted that all three me ,my brother and sister learn not only cooking but The kitchen itself.
Since when you actually started cooking?
Well, not as early kids today are doing. I started in my teens. I exactly don’t remember it was first my interest or my mom’s efforts that started it. But my mom definitely encouraged our curiosity and interest.
when I start to take interest in the kitchen first it was mere curiosity. How the flour turns into dough,dough turns in to Chapatis (tortilla like bread) and how come the dough doesn’t stick to our hands.
You told me that your mom insisted that all three of you roll chapatis on weekends. Did you liked that as rule and enjoyed doing it or just did it because it was a rule ?
My mom insisted but never actually forced us.Times were different then. Most of the time you won’t give a second thought to house rules.
It was more like a competition between siblings. Who can make the perfect round chapati? So maybe on some days we were reactant to cook,but we did it because the reward was to be the mom’s favorite (no regrets).
Did you know than , that what you are learning is going to help you a lot in the future ? Not as a career but just as a skill?
Frankly I had no idea. Kids these days have a whole lot better idea of what future is going to look like. Later on I realized that I may have to move away to study or job. And be on my own. And just knowing that I at least don’t need to worry about food was reassuring.
But may be our parents had better idea of our future and they have prepared us for that.
When you first moved out of your home, how difficult was it to start not only cooking but the Kitchen itself ?
If I remember it correctly,in the beginning I would generally ask my mom whenever I needed help. but it was not that difficult since I was already exposed to not only cooking ,but what can go wrong in the kitchen too.But more often than not I would be internally more anxious as how the food will taste, since there was no reassuring presence of mom.I think when new friends like the food made by me, it gave me immense confidence that I am getting better sense of other people’s taste too (since cooking for other’s is what I like most).
When you eat anything, new or something you have already had many times, what is the experience?
I would definitely call myself a Foodie. When I was still a newbie at cooking I will always wonder how come after using the same recipe and spices mom’s food taste different (and way better than mine) ? Than slowly I started develop better understanding methods and ingredients.
After I moved out of India it a whole world on my plate. So many new cuisines and ingredients. Lille kid in the candy shop. Wanted to try everything I can and then create it myself.
Now whenever I eat anything not only my body start working on the food my brain starts too. What’s in there, why does it taste different form lats time around and most importantly is it healthy enough to eat ? As much as like to eat I like to take care of my body too. So I always try to eat healthy.
After a long,busy and tiring day (mentally more than physically ) , what would you prefer? Home-made food or take out?
I would only want to have a simple,healthy and home-made food.Especially after those days. Cause its great way for me feel the transition from work to relax mode. There are so many recipes (if you still need to look at one) you can make under 30 minutes. Actually once you start cooking with interest there so many recipes you will create by yourself according you your taste and convenience.
When I travel I can’t cook. But it feels so good to be back in my own kitchen and cook something. One thing I have learned is home-made food always have fewer calories and sugars than any outside food. And after a tiring day it’s better to give your body something healthy.And Eating is as necessary as breathing. Do we rely on any one for breathing for us ? Then why should we rely for food on other people?
All the parents specially moms worry about what their kids might be eating (eating or not)? Your mom teach you cooking, how does she feels about your eating?
Parents are going to parents. No matter how old we gets. May be she used to worry in the beginning. But now she never ask me did I eat or not? She will always ask me what did I cook? And now it’s she who ask me how did I make certain dish (even traditional ones) . And I think that makes her feel really proud.
I try to cook for her when I go to India. It’s more reassuring for her to see me cook and know that what I am eating. Looking back I always remember how happy she was when she sees how happy people are after eating her food. And that’s what I feel too.
What is your favorite dish made by your mom, which you would always want to have made by her?
Well……..it’s a very regular everyday meal that I miss and wish I could have it made by her.
Onion Pulav (Onion pilaf) with Palak Daal(spinach lentil curry) and Gobhi ki sabji (cauliflower dish), this what I always would like to have only by her.
And the last one, What is your favorite food ?
Apart from some Indian varieties in Indian cuisine I like Italian, Thai and Mediterranean.
Well thanks you so much Hemant for giving your time for this assignment and thanks for the wonderful thoughts.
Kahte hai acchi soch se achhe man se achha khana banta hai (it is said that food always comes out good if made with good thoughts and good heart).