Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bitter, sweet, sour & astringent lessons

I learnt to cook at the tender age of 8 months, when I lifted a jar of salt and emptied it into a bowl of chicken curry. The expression on the adult’s faces seated around the table when they tasted the curry, told me that cooking would be great fun. My mom, the lady of the house and the master chef whose cooking skills are legendary in our house, must have felt threatened by the homegrown competition because she tried cutting short my budding interest in cooking by keeping the jar of salt in highly secretive hidden location. But I guess inborn talents cannot be suppressed, because I soon found the jar of sugar and emptied that into a nice Kottayam style beef fry that my mom had made painstakingly. My talents were obvious from a very young age. The jar of sugar was soon dispatched to some highly confidential location deep in the Sahara desert. Soon I found out that the jar of chilly powder and pepper powder also bought out fun expressions on adults’ faces. By this time my mom, probably feeling very threatened by the encroaching competition, sent away all the spices in her kitchen to top secret hideouts around the world as a last ditch attempt to stop me from trying my hand at cooking. (“Maa bhi kabhi beti thi” is the title of the book I will be writing about my early life).

Having my talents so brutally and cruelly nipped in the bud, I went back to doing what normal kids do, like throwing my Ammachi's chickens into the well, falling into a bucket of water headlong, letting out water from the water tank and falling from the roof. I led an uneventful life back then. Unlike now, when my life is full of danger, excitement, thrill, adventure, cliffhangers etc like running behind my company bus every morning ( I got a speeding ticket for that), dashing from conference room to conference room at breakneck speed, chasing the ad agency and Event Management people, snooping on competitors and eating cafeteria food. I am yet to see the cabin allotted to me and I heard it is being used for nefarious purposes like *gasp* “work” by people who look suspiciously like my colleagues armed with laptops and white board markers. BUT….. I am familiar with each and every network socket in this campus where I can plug in my lappie and that includes the socktes thoughtfully provided on the cafeteria tables and the loo. ( and psssst don’t tell this to anyone but I heard some kaamchor people play solitaire on their lappies in the loo. Disgusting!!!).

We even have “Bring your lappie to office on Saturday” Saturdays and “Take you lappy home everyday” weekdays. I tell you, the Corporate Communications people here are tops (and I don’t mean in the weight department though they top in that too). So thoughtful no?

But we are deviating my dear readers… yes all five of you err…make it four as one of you have fallen asleep. Back to our narrative and like I was telling you many many paragraphs ago, I found out that I had an interest in cooking very early in life. By very early, I do not mean the first month of my life in the incubator where I was kept on a constant low heat, though I admit it must have influenced me in some way like by making me realize it is better to cook than be cooked. (Ok I heard that joke about my brains being cooked too grrrr).

My yearning to learn cooking raised it’s stubborn head again, when I was 8 or 9 years old and by this time my Mom was so fed up of cooking that she actually conspired to get out of the kitchen, by buying me, my very own cookery book and recalling all the jars of chilly, salt, sugar etc from the various top secret locations around the world. (What a scheming woman no?)

Soon after the arrival of the spices, I began cooking after saying an elaborate prayer that was rather rudely interrupted by my dad exclaiming in horror and dashing out of the house to renew the Household Fire Insurance Policy. I picked up basic cooking very fast, and was soon raring to try more exotic cuisines. I appealed to all the ladies in the neighborhood to give me recipes and they obliged and it is from these ladies, that I learnt the greatest cooking lesson of all. A lesson that left me very wised indeed. And what was that lesson? Patience… I will reveal all *mysterious smile*

The first person to give me a recipe was Mrs J. Mrs J made a particularly delicious Banana Bread. So it was with great anticipation that I made the Banana Bread. The bread looked like a blob of dried cement. Even my brother refused to eat it.

The second person to share her recipe was Mrs T. I made the Malabar Fish Curry exactly as it was given in the recipe and gave it to my brother to taste. My brother who will eat dog biscuits if it not pointed out that it is dog biscuit threw up after tasting the fish curry.

The third person to share her recipe was Mrs M. She gave me her recipe for candied peel. When the candied peels were ready, it was stiffer than iron rods and tasted like putrid Citric Acid.

And the last person to share her recipe was Mrs M again. She gave me her treasured recipe of Fruit Bread. I made the bread dough exactly the same way it was instructed in the recipe and kept the dough aside to rise. Exactly half an hour later my maids ran screeching out of the kitchen and ran helter-skelter. A bubbling mass of grey matter was coming out of the kitchen and threatening to engulf the whole house. There was bubbling fruit bread dough everywhere. People were running for their lives. It took three hours to clean the mess and subdue the bubbling monster.

After the mess was cleaned my mom took the recipes to investigate where I had gone wrong. After reading the recipes, she started laughing hysterically. Apparently Mrs J had conveniently forgotten to include baking powder in her recipe, , Mrs R had also very conveniently forgotten to include kodampulli (tamarind) in her recipe, Mrs M had made me make candeed peel with thrice the amount of Citric Acid and sugar and her Fruit Bread recipe that needed only 20 gms “Yeast” was conveniently of course “by mistake’ made to 200 gms yeast. The result as you can see was disastrous.

After she had stopped laughing my mom taught me my first lesson in cooking. “A good cook will never part with her recipe.”

Thank you ladies for that lesson. Your course material was excellent and course recall really lasting. I will remember it to my dying day.


Anonymous said...

Hv never tried a sweet beef fry. Wud ask the cook to make it 2day.

Anonymous said...

now i'm all hungry:) would love some of that beef fry and the malabar fish thingey:) extremely well written, as usual and funny as well...anytime you need somebody to experiment your cooking on, just let me know!!!

Synapse said...

LOL, so now i know where not 2 drop in 4 dinner if i land up in bangalore! ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow. Second in this section, unbelievable. Great post and the part of you willingly being in the kitchen - not very believable :-)

tangled said...

You have the most exciting times! :)

Basanti said...

Hehehehe! I can understand that! I've learnt cookery in school for 9 years (along with other jazz like classical dancing, yoga and ayurved) and one thing is for sure that I don't bring down the house with fire! :D

If there is one thing I absolutely hate about people giving their recipe is that they say, "salt.. according to taste".. bleddyy.. say 1 spoon or 2 spoons or whatever.. but "swadaanusar" bugs me so much! sigh!

Dev said...

That reminds of the time when I was 'drafted' into a cooking competition when some guy dropped out of a team, and I was used to make up the required number of persons.

The judges came by, had a spoonful of our sweet dish (I forgot the name by now... was some kinda supposed-to-taste-sweet rice) and said 'This is good fried rice!'

That remains (thankfully) my only tryst with cooking. :P

Sachin R K said...

So you have started word verification in addition to comment moderation? Its getting more and more like Fort Knox everyday. Well well must not digress from the business at hand viz giving comments.

Really loved this post. Will you be my guru? I took up cooking recently ( made my first cup of tea two weeks back ) and could do with some expert 'Dont Do' tips. "Guru Dakshina" , did I hear? One burnt pappadam coming right up.

silverine said...

holi devil: case you didnt read the post, that was my baby steps in cooking days, try it at your own risk of puking your intestines out:P

espritnoir: Thank you and I am now a very 'experienced' cook :))

dr asish: That was mean!!!!! LOL

browser: I loved cooking then and even now :)

basanthi: Wow you did all those courses? Cooking is one of my hobbies :)

tangled: Thank you :)

dev: That was hilarious!!!! rofl

sachin rk: Thank you and thanks for the comment on 'Fowl Play' too :) One burnt papadam ? Not bad for a beginner I say. You show great promise :P Sure will give you tips if you want :)

Ganja Turtle said...

If Calvin were a girl, he would have been silverine circa 20 years back!

Am just finished with what was supposed to be a spicy mushroom+potato gravy...the potatos refused to cooperate with the spicy part, the mushrooms have shrunk and disappeared and the spices have evaporated...I am giving all of them 12 hours before they behave and come back as a gravy-otherwise....khallas!

I juuust love this multiple thingy...1st a word verfn,then a login, then a password...babe,how about jazzy encryption s/ware? I know, i know...the perils of being beautiful and popular...tch tch...

LOL-rock the week ahead!

Mind Curry said...

if you will be maiii fraaannddd..i will share a 5th recipe with you..and i swear it wont be the last. i already shared it with maya here

SK said...

"After the arrival of the spices, I started cooking after saying an elaborate prayer that was rather rudely interrupted by my dad exclaiming in horror and dashing out of the house to renew the Household Fire Insurance Policy."

hahahahhahhaa... now tht's the funniest line ive heard in quite some days !!!

Amey said...

Got new template, have we? Good, good...

So, here's one more in the line of experimental chefs... Given your experiences, I am sure you can fall back on this line if your career as Teenager Assasin fails you (Himmesh? I still haven't forgotten that).

Solitaire in loo? Shameless people... Now I know why we didn't have any sockets in loos in my company. Shameless misuse of company resources!

Amey said...

Pissed off with "certain readers and commenters", are we? Enabled owner approval for the comments, have we? Hmm...

silverine said...

GT: LOL they must have crossed the border now and joined the anti GT front :)) Have removed Word Verification, thanks for pointing it out! :)

mind curry: That recipe seems delicious!! Except I don't like maggi noodles. I like curry smoodles with grated cheese cube added just before removing it from the stove yummmmm try it and then I will give you tips for weight reduction :P
(see you get a complete package and it is freeeee!!! Such a good friend I am)

sk: Thank you, everything in my house is insured :p

fleiger: Thank god for Plan B :) And yes, I have an alternate career lined up and I think I will be quite busy if I take it up :)) Enabled comment moderation so that I can maintain the freedom of expression of this blog :)

Anonymous said...

chasing the ad agency and Event Management people

Heh heh, what a thing to read, first thing on a Monday morning. My ilk and I are being mocked!

Having said that, I know exactly where you're coming from. I know all my clients will give you a Hell Yeah!

As for recipes, the internet's the best place. I had never attempted it before, but an online recipe for pork vindaloo brought me much fame.

Have a good week, Silv.

Scribbles said... was funny..
Moi had similar experiences too..coz mama wudnt allow me to cook and I wanted to...
Now that am staying far from home I can try cooking but then its not that interesting with no one to taste and comment on the dishes. :(
Yeah mom always told me that a good cook never shares her recipes and a good beautician never shares her beauty tips too :)

Risha said...

tht was a nice and funny post, for a moment i was wondering y was the flour bubbling so much, good ur mom figured it out

mathew said...

Lol!!..had a nice time laughing reading this..just picturising you in the kitchen..maybe you should take tips from my cookery lessons!!

Recently it happened that there was a fire alarm newar my home and there was a stream of police cars and fire brigades near my home..Moi who was making paste for the fish fry just peeped out from the balcony to see what all the hullaboo was all about..

Lucky me the police dint shoot me after seeing those red blood dripping hands of mine..So cooking can be careful!!

naveen said...

Hey,U could have come 2 me 4 lessions...I am an expert in making roast bread and Maggi!!! Has survived on this diet 4 a week!! Now a days I am learning 2 make Tea...

silverine said...

G: It is a Tom and Jerry chase alright and no prizes for guessing who is Tom and who is Jerry here :P Me too rely on the Internet for recipes. But this happened when I was around 9.

scribbles: I have always given people the correct recipes, never understood this penchant of some women to give erroneous recipes :)

risha: I still curse that woman, I was barely 9 then :)

Mathew: lol for a moment I thot you set off the smoke alarm :)) Be careful next time they will catch you for being red handed :)

naveen: I am a fairly good cook now :)

Amey said...

Come to think of it, is it Catwoman - Selina Kyle thingie?

Comment moderation to ensure freedom of expression? Nice...

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

curiosity kills the cat, they say.
i'm so lucky i'm not a cat.

i got curious about how a russian salad would taste like, if i cooked it with some chicken broth and garam masala.

and this was last night.

abhishek said...

I learnt to cook at the tender age of 8 months, when I lifted a jar of salt and emptied it into a bowl of chicken curry. The expression on the adult’s faces seated around the table when they tasted the curry, told me that cooking would be great fun.

LOL...too cute by far.

Jiby said...

lol...this is why i never trust handed-down recipes...something or the other is always left old roomie who is also a blogger would make isd calls to get recipes from his mom, was making fish curry one day. i was watching him all along...and after sometime we were ready to eat and he turned off the stove, turned around with a puzzled expression and said..."something is wrong somewhere". the fish still seemed uncooked and looked like it was swimming in a sea of molaku podi...i took a fish out with my fingers and joked..."aliya nalla pedakkunna meen". his mom had forgotten to tell him how long to cook it!!! after all those posts abt your great cooking skills you have broken to us the secret of the hard-earned lessons that went behind firming up your great talent!

silverine said...

fleiger: Feline fatale!!! :))

toothless wonder: Russian Salad with chicken broth and garam masala? ewwwwwwwwww!!!!
But then it is better to go wild while cooking :))

abhishek: That actually happened...I even threw sand into food :P

Jiby: "aliya nalla pedakkunna meen"lol that was a good one!!! I guess the lady forgot to mention tamarind :)) Since I am an avid recipe collector I have many such interesting experiences :)

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Really exotic stuff u made!!!
This world is like this!!! They hate talent!! lol

Awesome da....spar aayittunde!!!

Amey said...

Thought so...

So, are we going to have a cookbook by silverine? A cooking show?

abhishek said...


oh i wasn't questioning the veracity...if it was someone else, i probably wud.

sand in food, shiva dear, on whose poor tongue did you wreak this havoc? kuttiye porkeneme kaaranam ee kutti enthu chiyinnunu avalka pollum ariyele.. :)

Asterix said...

:-) Woh speeding ticket waala joke was too much! (I hope it was a joke wonly otherwise all the athletes will develop a complex).

Well now that you have learnt the tricks of the trade, you should start your own cooking show on the lines of....mix this 200g of garlic with 500g of onions, stir well and eat in ne sitting to get that perfect kissable mouth.

Unknown said...

LOL... is your brother still alive and well? rocking post

mathew said...


that was a good one..

remember the scene from Boeing Boeing ..i guess..where Mohanlal makes chicken curry based on a radio commentary and half way through he gets confused with the commentary on yogasanas..

For all others who havent seen the clip it ranks among the top for slap stick humour.. :-P

silverine said...

Nikhil: Thank you buddy. Nice to see you after such a long time :)

abhsishek: Touche! :p

asterix: LOL and that speeding ticket waala joke was no joke :p

senorcaine: He is alive, but his taste buds are dead :P

smiling girl: Thank you and thanks for the comments on my earlier posts :)

b v n said...

This post rocks !! was laughing all the way..hmm !*deep breath*

reminded me of my early days here when my roomies used to call whatever i cooked "navaratna kurma" had like 9 different colurs and 9 different tastes at various points :))

sugar in beef fry is suicidal...ever tried coca-cola in sambhar ? electric combination it is :) *ppl will get shock*

again...great post !!

glob8 said...

too funny.. really enjoyed reading it... especially I am forced to eat what I cook these days

Di said... mom belongs to the category of good cooks..thts the reason i cant cook a single thing! She just wont tell me how to do it!!!!!!! :-/

Sc!F! said...

another great blog silverine :)

silverine said...

bvn: LOL that navratan korma sounds very versatile. There was no cola in those days or I would have added that too :P

naan: Thank you :)

di: Me too had to literally fight to be allowed to cook :)

sc!f!: Thank you :)

Lazith Aziz said...

have not read this space for quite sometime!

nice to see the new makeover here! looks like all sea of words when its all white in the bg ! oh! what a change in my life ! :-)

and was glad to read on your culinary skills!all kodampuli blah! blah! made me all in smiles! get a feeling like you are a true MVPAite. :-)
happy cos me too:-)

LOL with something that I just read though I dont blog these days this has become a place to write in :-)

When sardar was traveling with his wife in an auto, the driver adjusted mirror. Sardar shouted, " You are trying to see my wife? Sit back. I will drive.

Lazith Aziz said...

sick sick this is bad!"Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval. " i was checking out for my comment after publishing have started moderating it! thats all new revamping of "poomanam" with security features installed! and moderating in place !

Leon said...

I like this template so much more.. but then you know I favor a white background.. :-)

Anonymous said...

Btw, does your comment on my space mean that you will not visit my blog at all till the wedding anniv wala post? :D :) ?

manuscrypts said...

definitely food for thought...

pophabhi said...

You....You...You Ms.Silverine...You the court jester of blog world.

That speeding ticket was awesome! :)


silverine said...

lazith: Another sardar classic!!! LOL
And comment verfn has been put in place to keep out people from using my space for their frustrations :)

Leon: I love this template and this beta thingy is so easy to manage :)

the smiling girl: Of course not, I will def visit your blog before that :)

manuscrypts: It is sin't it? :)

popabhi: Thank you :)) Most drivers threaten to resign when they are put on my route :p

Amey said...

Do we have "101 deadly recipies" coming anytime soon? Or maybe a television show?

Jive Talker said...

Clicked on the Ammachi link and read a little of that story. Check the one which says Chicken Run on mine. Mallus play fowl w-oll the time I guess.

hillgrandmom said...

I think it's a more a Kerala specialty--not sharing your recipe! I've given recipes to lots of people, more so since I get them from various places and then try them out & give the recipe only if it comes out well.

Sasi Kumar said...

mmmmmm delicious

hope and love said...

u must have been a bloody cute baby girl..