“If you want authentic Kerala cuisine, come home for dinner.” My friend invites me over after I’ve spent the last few minutes cribbing about my husband’s increasing demands for gourmet cuisine.
“Today he wanted to have puli kuthi upperi along with other Malabar specialty food such as kalan, olan!” My despair comes through clearly and my loyal friend is ready to pick up the gauntlet on my behalf. In the beginning, I thought my husband was joking when he came up with these dishy names, but I quickly realised that he was dead serious. Having grown up in a joint family where women secretly tried to outshine each other with their prowess in the kitchen, he was exposed to a variety of dishes from practically every district of southern India. So, when he wasn’t waxing eloquent over an aunt’s aanai pachadi served at a funeral, or a finely roasted brinjal dish with some fancy sounding name cooked at a housewarming, his innuendos starting sinking in.
The first few times he walked into the kitchen with a spring in his step and a look of unholy joy on his face, just before the meal was to be served. Only to crumble and drag his feet back to the dining table. All my mutterings of “why can’t the man be satisfied with the usual wholesome fare” fell on deaf ears.
Cook, I am; gourmet cook, I am certainly not. Neither do I aspire to be. Chances are, if I participate in the desi version of Master Chef Australia, I would be a mass of nerves and even the neighbour’s dog may barf at the idea of licking my production.
This article originally appeared in the Sunday edition of the Deccan Herald.