When C announced that she’s gonna transform herself to an expert chef from the ‘sadistic-home-laxative-maker’ that she was currently by the time she’s to be married, I never knew the price of laughing like a jackass at the idea would be so heavy. She added a post scriptum to her announcement by making it amply clear in front of all friends/colleagues at the table that I am to be her official ‘taster’ and I couldn’t have an option of opting out. She swore on our two year old friendship that if I so much as even dared to smirk at her culinary concoctions I can forget about getting an invitation to her wedding. Apparently the phrase “dosti ki kasam” means something up there in Punjab from where she is. Down in mallu-land we would have cared two hoots if the ‘kasam’ meant chewing at half baked beans which would make jersey cows opt for root canal treatments and pushing down half inch thick rotis down your throat with a foot long ruler. Well so much for dosti and I became the designated guinea pig for C’s experiments in the kitchen.
It started with chapattis which felt more like sheets of rubber hanging in my grandpas smoke house. I said it wasn’t bad and perhaps she should consider using the same technique next time she makes pappads. She didn’t find my suggestion amusing. I ended up mixing the dough despite there being a food processer in her kitchen for the whole of next week.
Next on the menu was Chana Masala. She cooked up a delight for the horses that pulled Maniandi’s cart. I didn’t say anything to her this time, but she found out that I hadn’t eaten it myself when Maniandi approached her for claiming compensation for his horses getting violent diarrhea.
Similarly the aloo jeera that I threw in the vacant plot behind my house gave a fine crop the next year. The spuds I was told had jeera embedded inside and was a huge hit in the madiwala market. The aloo mattar helped fill the leak in the roof. Her aloo gobi gave Gopi our cook a strange case of perennial hiccups. But these were for only those creations I managed to convince her that I’d have at the comfort of my own house (Because that’s where I could enjoy in peace each bite of the delicious ambrosia). Most of her cooking had to be consumed for lunch in front of her at the office food court. Many fields of aloo had been laid bare and much water had flown down the Sutlej River, in the course of the time that C learned cooking.
It was with these memories in mind that I visited C for dinner in Delhi after almost two years last January. But getting up after dinner I was pleasantly surprised to see that C had managed to pull it off. She had actually made that transformation to a wonderful chef indeed. Perhaps it was partly because of the fact that five years out of Kerala (especially those two spent in Kolkata) had finally given my body the capability to produce those special enzymes that digest ‘aloo’, but mostly it was, I’d like to believe the result of all that (guinea) pigging around I did. Dosti ki kasam.PS: C doesn’t know this blog exists. Neither does she know about the aloo-jeera bio variant. In case she questions me about either of those, I know whose murky hands to test my new kitchen chopper on.