Kitchen Cults

So, two of my childhood friends are turning out to be androids of some sort. I always suspected this of one of them – A – who’s efficiency in just about everything peaked much before the Japanese discovered productivity metrics on the assembly line. She’s super practical and clinical and does stock market number crunching as a hobby. Let’s just be thankful she’s on the right side of the law. But the other friend, C, well, she threw me off guard with her recent display of kitchen nerdiness. Maybe I did not suspect her of android traits because the two of us share the same incorrigible hair woes –  we look like we’ve slept on thorny shrubs. And that’s just the good days. That, and also she’s abreast of all the tapori songs and movies I enjoy.

Both A and C are working mums and so, a lot of planning goes into kitchen chores. Breakfast and lunch must be packed really early in the morning. So, menus must be worked out well in advance. A’s kitchen is a lean six sigma operation. She’s the gadget queen. Her days start with the coffee machine which automatically starts roasting and grinding the beans at daybreak. That’s her suprabhata, and I can’t think of a better way than to wake up to the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans. Both A and C are Instapot (hereafter referred to as IP) girls, and between the two of them, they can open a museum of kitchen gadgets. This Instapot thing runs in the family too - the Sister also owns it, though even without it, she just sort of does one spin in the kitchen and thirty different dishes are ready. 

All the while, I thought my kitchen was at the cutting edge of technology because I own a fifteen-year-old Preethi mixer grinder (steel jars - big, medium, small) and three pressure cookers – Butterfly – big; Prestige pans – medium and small. On top of that, I’d been reckless enough to buy a slow cooker, in which I now ferment dosa and idli batter. Yup, I live on the fast lane at times. There was a moment when I came this close to buying that chapati-making contraption. I was kneading the dough and my elbows were hurting (from holding a book in a crooked angle, and also, old age) and I thought, hell. I’ll buy that machine. For a moment I even imagined making copious amounts of chapatis and distributing it in the neighbourhood. Oh, the tears of joy that would overflow from all the over-worked mums here… Then I saw the price – equivalent to a return ticket to India. So, I gave up the idea and applied Tiger Balm to the elbows.  

Anyway, now C has upped the game with some methodology known as OPOS. I forget the full form – one pot something. At first, I thought she was cursing. Then she explained it is a super-efficient way of using the pressure cooker. A, a staunch IPist, jumped in and asked if the recipe could be adapted to IP. From C’s answer I figured OPOS is a secret cult and now, some OPOSians are forming a rebellious sub-cult of OPOS to IP technology transfer. So, A gave C a paneer migration project which was wildly successful. So successful that A, who is very reticent on social media, put up a status on her Facebook timeline – this unprecedented event might have caused the lashing winds outside my window.

In a desperate bid to draw me out of stone age - I mean, I can't even deal with these newfangled pressure cookers that look like submarine gadgets for deep sea exploration - C asked – Is your pressure cooker X litres? I bobbed my head. The hell I knew the volume of my cooker. When it comes to size, I understand only big, medium, clue about litres. But then, there's only so many times I can look like a fool. C then gave me the syllabus. She shared links and theoretical analysis of OPOS. All I understood was you have to be mindful of the time. If it says 7 minutes 30 seconds, you better stick to that. If it says 1 and a half whistles, they exactly mean that. If that whistle draws out then your veggies will be tar. And, you can't haphazardly dump things into the cooker. It has be done in layers. C showed me photos of her cooking, all the while saying, "tumba easy kaNe" (it's very easy). Yeah, right. 

I tell you, this OPOS sounded ominous to me. It requires the focus of one who is pipetting concentrated sulphuric acid into a test tube of nitrate to see if the damn brown ring is formed. It’s not meant for specimen like yours truly, whose life moves at a glacial pace, and who listens to pyar ki pungi while cooking and forgets to count cooker whistles. It's not that I don't plan my menus - I do saunter to the fridge, open the door and stare at the shelves, hands on hips. And then, I make Maggie.

That's not to say I'm no domestic goddess. I'm insisting on a steel bandli for my birthday, if you must know.

And, A and C, I love you both to bits, you nutjobs.

 © Sumana Khan - 2018