How it all began

wheat_halwa_4The first time I entered the kitchen to cook was as a seven-year old when my parents had left me alone, perhaps also for the first time. And it was a disaster!
We had until then lived in a joint family, when it was impossible to go anywhere near the stove but here was the chance to put into practice what I had seen my mother do so many times.
So I gave it a try and decided to “cook” the halwa (roasted flour pudding).
It started off very well as I got the ingredients together – flour, oil and sugar in equal measure and three times the water. Heat the oil and the flour until it turns brown, add the sugar and roast a little more, add the water and stir briskly until the oil separates from the mixture. Serve hot!
I was sure I did everything right – or so I thought I did – but it became lumpy (as in butterscotch ice cream) and watery (as in a rather gooey paste). However, it smelt divine – and I thought I had made it!
The trouble started when we began to eat it and realised it was absolutely inedible. The flour had been over-roasted and the water was more than the three times I had thought it was. I had also not stirred briskly enough, which had led to the sugar caramelising and forming rather brittle lumps.
That made me do what anyone at that time would – discard the lot – but not in the bin (for surely I would have been found out). I decided against the kitchen sink (for it might get blocked) and, of course, going out of the apartment was too risky (since the neighbours might find out).
I dumped it out of the kitchen window, in the belief it would fall on the street below!
I did the pots and the pans, cleaned the kitchen and immersed myself in a school book just as mom and dad walked in. I could see mom’s nose twitching – someone’s been cooking halwa, she said. Dad agreed! Oh, the neighbours might have had guests, she said. And I was happy at the great escape!
Coming back from school the next afternoon was routine – except that mom led me into the balcony that overlooked the kitchen window! And there it was. The gooey mess stuck to the wall! It had not fallen on the street. Mom had stepped into the balcony to hang out the washing when she saw it. The cover had blown. She put two and two together and came up with four (what else?). The divine smell, the innocent look on my face and being immersed in a text book fell into place!
Needless to say, I received a hiding – not as much for the cooking but more for venturing into the kitchen and ‘playing with fire’!
But that was also the beginning of a new innings because mom made sure as much as possible to make me do things in the kitchen when she was there. That was fun – and learning to handle the gas stove, the oil and the cooking was an experience.
I can say that has helped – and my tryst with the kitchen continues to grow. This is why this blog has come about, where I can write about not only what I cook, experiment with and create, but also share my experiences over the years.
Happy reading!


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