Do you live to eat or eat to live ?? In any case you gotta eat. And to eat you (or someone) gotta cook. Most people learn to cook at some point in their lives. This may be out of interest and inquisitiveness as a child, braggadocio as a teenager, desperation as a student in a far away land, or as in my case, homesickness at missing all my favourite Parsi dishes.
Cooking for me is a very therapeutic exercise. Okie, dont get me wrong. I dont want to sound loony. But when i cook, I am really focussed and lose awareness of everything else. That helps me destress after a gruelling day at work.
I learnt to cook as a boy scout, cooking at training camps. At that time we were “thrown in the deep end” as the saying goes. We had to cook on firewood and for our whole patrol of 5-6 boys.
That was about all the cooking i did in India. Things changed when i moved to NYC to pursue my masters degree. I started cooking because i missed Indian food. I am a foodie in the truest sense of the word, and there is no cuisine that one does not get in NYC. In that sense, besides many others, NYC is truly global. Hence Ethiopian, Polish, Thai, Vietnamese, South African, Brazilian, Peruvian, Austrian, Australian, English, Hungarian, korean, Ukranian, dimsum, hardcore Chinese and many other cuisines became weekly or monthly regulars. My rule is to try everything at least once. I still havent come across anything i havent tried once, but i await the day !!
What i really missed was Parsi food. There was a Parsi restaurant for a very brief period in 1998, here in the West Village in NYC, but it shut down. Dhansak, Patra Ni Macchi, Farcha, Bheja, Kaleji, Curry Chawal, Lagan nu custard, Malido, Bhakhra and i can go on and on and on.
By chance, my mom sent me a great book called “Jamva Chaloji” by Katy Dalal, and that unlocked the whole process of Parsi cooking. Thus nothing was too difficult now. There have been days when i have got up from a dream where i was eating lagan nu custard or patra ni macchi, and i know i have to make it and have it as soon as i can.
Parsi food makes me less homesick, hence i try to cook it as often as i can. Dont get me wrong, but i cook other indian food too.
Cooking is a meticulous exercise. You need the right ingredients. No shortcuts. Indian cooking per se is more time consuming than say making spaghetti bolognaise.
My love of food and different cuisines of the world and my interest in amateur cooking, hopefully some day will result in me wanting to open a restaurant…not as a chef, but as an entrepreuner. As and when i do, you will read about it first in these pages.
I looked here, there, everywhere, expecting the dish to cook itself while I fooled around. We were all expected to reap what we’d sown — eat what we’d created — but my dish wasn’t edible.