Cooking is meditation with the promise of a good meal afterwards. It can soothe jangled nerves; heal broken hearts, cure boredom and anxiety. It is my new creative outlet. My husband and I are not a gourmet cooks or food purists; we are in fact, very new to the culinary world. We don’t maintain a recycled paper recipe diary or even write a blog about it. We are not there yet and we don’t know if we’ll ever be. That is not our goal. All we really know is that the process of cooking puts us in straightjacket, gives us time to introspect and helps us resolve many peripheral issues in general; things we are unable to make time for otherwise. It brings us together. You don’t have to start with a sugar shard. It’s okay to begin with the easy stuff.
I am a hybrid: a mix of Kashmir, Aligarh and Delhi while my husband hails from Islamabad in Kashmir. We live in Boston, Massachusetts, are textbook foodies and like to re- create almost anything we’ve truly relished. We never practice culinary benchmarking as such and always try to deconstruct our favorite recipes, step by step, with a very open mind. We are not food snobs. We don’t use fancy kosher jargon. It’s okay if your muffin looks like a raisin the first time! You’ve got nothing to lose; you’ll only get better. I drew inspiration from my husband and wanted to try my hand at some Asian curries because I was only making baked/ roasted food items all this while. My husband is a ravenous rice eater and I too get it from my mother’s side. It was time.
One of the first curries I tried making was Daniwal Korma, literal translation: coriander curry. It’s a Kashmiri dish prepared using toasted curry spices, yogurt and choice of meat, preferably lamb. I found a recipe on YouTube and could not hold back. To my surprise it turned out to be glorious! That was the first time I realized that I could be whatever I wanted in the kitchen.
Another recipe I savor is Aab Gosht: exclusively always cooked by my husband, Tawheed. It is lamb cooked in slightly sweetened milk. It makes me weep rainbows. Every now and then we look for new recipes to practice, especially on the weekends. We don’t necessarily stick to the Kashmiri or UP style and almost never shy away from exploring other cuisines. For instance, last weekend Tawheed cooked this Turkish delight called Karnıyarık (literally split belly). Eggplants stuffed with lamb Keema. Need I say more? You bite into the crisp and luscious aubergine and are welcomed by a manic juicy burst of minced lamb. I was in a severe state of trans. It was not a conservative dish for someone who’s still learning the art of cooking!
Lastly, cooking is a basic life skill. Everyone should learn to cook at some point in his or her life. It transcends gender barriers. We don’t believe in criticizing cooking styles. There is no one-way to prepare food. It is an open experimentation ground and everyone is allowed to present his or her take on a specific dish. There has to be a starting point for everyone till you find your groove. Also, while plating is a very satisfying activity, it is not the most important. You don’t need fine china to serve your food in as long as you’ve made it with love and good intentions. Bon Appétit