This story spans my prefinal and final yr in Kkdi. On the weekends I would go off to Soda’s house and there we used to improve our cooking skills.
Soda was living with his father, paati and sambar. Paati was one wonderful lady – very jovial and VERY tolerant. She gave us full freedom to exploit her kitchen. Soda was a character. I first came to know him through my sister and then through the years we started knowing each other better. The more I know of him, the more I am amazed at his sincerity at whatever he does.
What started as a cooking for 3-4 people soon turned into a community cooking. At best we had 15-20 people in our home.
The protagonists were sambar, myself quarter, H1, soda, gymJ,gateMani. Scienti and whoever who wished to come. The previous day we used to make a rough cut menu. GymJ used to bring a bag ful of rice from his house. I used to bring some vegetables. Once in Soda’s home we used to inventory all that was available and all that was requirements. The next 30 mins we spent purchasing. Our staple used to be rice (plain and pulao), roti, eggs, beans,dal, carrot, potato, tomato, onions, capsicum…well….anything and everything we could lay our hands on.
We used to work in batches. One group for kneading the dough and rolling it, one for cutting vegetables, one for mixing condiments and making pastes, one for cooking, one for washing the vessels and one for eating and watching TV .
Fortunately none of us cared for aesthetics while cooking…….we were strictly functional. Hence the vegetables never had any shape in our dishes neither did the rotis.
Sambar was our chief chef and myself his apprentice. Our cooking style was instinctive…..call us touch artistes. And our vessel utilization was minimal – we preferred eating out of our vessels…a la Satte pe Satta.
Excesses & shortages (both of dishes and the condiments in them) were commonplace. But the long time we spent in cooking the dishes and the fact that we had invested heavily in it ensured that we ate whatever was made to the last morsel. Through such frequent exercise at self-flagellations did we become the descendents of Nala :D