The idea of cooking and the way people imagine it to be is under evolution. A few years ago, cooking would throw an image of a mom or grandmom running around in the kitchen, cutting vegetables and getting their hands burnt while trying to take the lid off some boiling gravy. Or, in stark contrast, would offer a glimpse into the life of an ambitious chef who cooks fancy food like oyster puttu and schezwan puli inji. Now with most Keralites shifting to other states, cooking seems to have found a more raw meaning – One that takes a more realistic portrayal of cooking as a life hack than just looking at it as art that only few can take up (or are forced to take up).
The changing views on a meal
‘Innum sambar thenne aano?’, ‘Manja currykk manja upperi o?’, ‘Meen entha varakkaanje, shaey’ are very graciously dealt with ‘chelakkaand vene thinnitt poda’ in our homes. What happens to us who have been overly pampered with a serving of chood chor, moru ozhicha curry, upperi, meen curry, achaar, and pappadam, and move out of town? Do we sit and cry thinking about our meals? Would it be a lie if we say no? We do miss the extravagant meals but we also now realize that a bowl of rice, some curd and veetle maanga achaar also is a very fulfilling meal. And the lesser the dishes, the lesser the pile up in the sink- a very, very encouraging thought to make the meal as minimalistic as possible.
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The urge to shift from hotel food
Never did we think that one day we would have to understand the difference between a cheena chatti and mann chatti. That we will one day need to know how many whistles it takes for paripp to get cooked versus chicken to get cooked. Initially, we would be in the ‘aa enikkonnum vayya, order eyyaam’, but for how long? With all the ordering you either get bored with hotel food or you fall sick some day or worse, you start cutting down on meals. This gradually shifts to getting a pressure cooker, a cheenachatti and one non-stick tawa, a few ladles, an induction stove, and most importantly a cook. Now you start realizing how inflation has caused the price of ulli to go up and that you can get malli for free if you buy a decent amount of vegetables from a regular vendor.
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You decide to take matters into your hands. Literally.
All hell breaks loose when your cook starts taking leave or makes chapathi kadala curry four times a week. You are bored with this routine. Firozkka, on the other hand, is making chicken naadan roast. Kopp. You decide to take matters into your own hands and proudly proclaim that you are making lunch today. And after 3 calls to mom, a few kaduk pottiya marks on your forehead, and a kitchen that now looks like a hurricane hit it, you have managed to cook some rice, beans upperi, and pappadam. The pride you feel is something that cannot be put into words here.
Don’t get overwhelmed by what ‘cooking a dish’ means. You do not have to be perfect at it, you just need to get started. Try with basic stuff like upperi, some salads if you like those, rice of course (well, because!), maybe. They may look like shaddis initially but who gives a damn as long as they are edible. You do not have to start with schezwan fried rice, start simple. Because that is the way you realize that it is not too hard. Gradually, make your way up and try out things that you love to make. Stick with basics even if it gets repeated a few times over a week. At the end of the month, we are sure your wallet will thank you.
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But what if I don’t want to cook?
Well, if you are okay with ordering in or eating out all the time it’s totally up to you. But no harm in trying? You might actually end up liking it. If you stay in a group, take up some supporting activity like cutting veggies or help in washing up the dishes later. Dont be a moynth and chumma vetti vizhungal, that’s the least you want to be.
The way cooking has evolved is a good enough progressive sign. It’s not just putting something on your plate and wolfing it down. You also learn that it’s not easy as passing comments like upp pora or curry pora. You learn that cooking is not just kaduvara kaduvara. It takes a lot of patience and discipline. But it also rewards you well, a happy tummy is after all a happy mind.
The author is not just bla bla-ing here. These are all phases that I have been through and they turned out well for me. So if you are just getting stuck, this should be a nice motivation for you to get started. Kudos!
(Dont forget to remove the kari from paathrams, they suck I know)
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