Ever since I’ve moved into Malaysian Township, I’ve always wanted to fire up my kitchen and cook me a meal. Overcoming many a hurdles, like procuring a gas stove, obtaining a gas cylinder, I made it to the point where I could manage to make some snacks, breakfast and other absolutely essential things in the first week itself. But never had I cooked a meal. The reason ? Cooking alone is such a drab. Also, to make a meal, one requires small quantities of lots of things. I decided to play “the lazy bum”.
Then came the long weekend. The three day weekend, due to the south Indian new year. The one in which I decided I’ll stay at home and set it up, have the things ready to have my kitchen humming (or I could have gone to Bangalore). By the end of the day two, I had done most of that, and day three seemed like a perfect day to start cooking the meals.
There was an interesting set of developments though during that weekend.
- India managed to win the world cup on day one. (Yo… )
- My cousin had given birth to a perfectly healthy, and a very cute looking baby boy (Yipee… ) on day two.
- Day three was Ugaadi. It’s like a new year in South India.
By the end of day two, I was feeling so upbeat, that I decided that instead of having the kitchen off to a elegant but tame kick off, I’ll have it roar and start with a blast ! I decided to launch it open with a house-warming party which I had been planning around here and there. I invited some friends over.
In the morning, I noticed my in box had been buzzing with activity, and I was expecting a guest count of 10 people. Now the situation was such that I have never cooked for so many people. Also my last cooking adventure was a fiasco, and people wouldn’t touch my creation with a 10 ft. stick, because they feared it might electrocute them. So feeling a bit out of sorts, I decided to face my fears and do it. I could have ordered, but I promised these people I’d cook for them.
And I bit the bullet.
My plan to the day was that I’d get the house thoroughly cleaned up by the maid, in the morning, after which I’ll get stuff to use, eat and decorate. Well, that day being new year, the maid conveniently decided to take it off (I was not even informed).
Never mind, I thought to myself. It is a big festival. To have the show go on, I decided to do the cleaning myself. Never mind the increase in effort here. There was the point when I realised that water taps had also decided to take a break. When I called the Facilities, I was told that there was some repair work going on near my block. (I was the marked man for the day 😉 ). With no definite time frame to have this work finished, my cleaning plans were thrown off track. I had to improvise, so I used packaged water to mop, and clean my toilets. Talk about vanity !!
After doing all that, I decided to focus on the main task at hand. I had to cook. I had decided to make “butter chicken” (A nice, spicy, rich indian gravy), for those eating non vegetarian, and “Kadhai paneer” (Cottage cheese in capsicum and onion mix) for people who were vegetarians. The ratio of non veg people to veg people got skewed big time to favour vegetarians as the new year was accompanied by some days called “Navratris” (Days of abstinence, Hindu version 🙂 ) .
I went out to get the raw materials. When I got back, I realised I was running late by an hour. Thankfully, to one of the guests, I had specifically told to be on time. I knew for certain the others would be running late, so I wasn’t really panicking. So this person, Mr. R.A shows up bang on time, and I explain to him the state of my current affairs. He was great and kind hearted, and he offered to make some “dal” (pulses), which I had decided that I’ll order. He started, and I must admit, hosting a party is always so much better with a co-host (sigh!).
Cruise mode on
With the presence of a friend (and he knew how to cook!). The things began to happen, thick and fast. We whipped out the gravy for the chicken, and I started to progress towards making the cheese dish, Pretty soon we were from tomatoes and onions to nice smelling puree. Also, exactly then other people decided to show up.
I suddenly remembered there was no booze in the house. Since I don’t drink, collect, etc. I’ve once used Vodka to effective use as a cleaning solution :). (Yeah, I clean toilets with packaged water, so this should not come as any surprise !!!) I asked this other friend, MR. RK and Mr. AA to fetch some things and whatever booze for me. They also obliged (I’m so thankful to both of them). Soon we had everything rounded up, and the music playing loud and nice. The atmosphere kept getting better, and we all chatted up nice and easy. These people belong to the same college as me, so we had that bit of common ground.
House full of engineers ! yay!
- My nicely laid out table and make shift coffee table were left unperturbed. The conversation was so engrossing that people did not bother getting up to eat. In the end, I decided to serve them on the floor itself.
- When the food was eventually dished out and sampled by the connoisseurs :), I got a major thumbs up! So much so, that I affected one of the vegetarian guy to try it out. I’m not going to let the name out here, because we signed a Non Disclosure Agreement. My lips are sealed. Another emphatic embracer of Navratri routine decided to chuck the concept and he went at the chicken big time. :). I think I’ll put the picture of what was there on the serving dishes. It’ll give a better idea.
- The dal was made with a technique which I was not aware of till now. Now I am. It was good. End result : that was polished off too! Finally, the ice cream brought over by yet another of the kind hearted guest (Mr. TP), was consumed with as much vigour as one can exhibit.
- In the end I think, the party went off quite well. We bonded, had a good time, and left happy.
I had a good time. The house might be nice and ornate otherwise, but with friends and people, it really comes alive. Here’s hoping we have many such events in the coming future. Cheers