I started cooking when I moved away from home for college; the food there was terrible, and since I had an inbuilt kitchen in my room, I figured I could at least try and salvage my hunger and save some money in the process. But I wouldn’t be lying if I said that wasn’t actually when I learned to cook.
My mom would have us help her at dinner time by setting the table, making the salad, frying puris while she rolled them out splendidly, and of course, doing the dreaded dishes once everyone was fed. There were days during holidays and weekends when I would spend time talking to her in the kitchen while she prepped a meal, and I would take note of how she added one ingredient after another, roasted spices in dry heat to bring out their aroma, and took special care to avoid any extra gravy while layering biryani. Little did I know that these special sessions we shared would one day be the basis of my career.
I can’t point to an exact time in my life when I really learned to cook. It kind of just happened; maybe it was always there somewhere. In fact, I’m on a constant learning curve. Each day I educate myself with something new -- be it how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg without having the shells stick to it, or that soft, delicious naans could actually be made at home in a flash. (Without a tandoor. Who knew?) The one thing I really "learned to cook" was fried egg. My mom decided to teach me so that I could make my own breakfast and she wouldn't have to leave the laundry halfway done to feed me. It wasn’t a fun experience. I must have thrown away a couple dozen eggs before I managed to crack them without thrusting my thumb in and breaking the yolk. But it was for a good cause. How else could I have made myself this delicious Egg Sambal, had it not been for that fateful day?