What are you cooking? Are you a good at cooking? Most of us are good at cooking; only difference being some are good at cooking food while some are great at cooking up stories.
Last more than 20 years of my life I have been used to eating food prepared by chefs/ maids. No doubt all of them were good and gave their best but I always felt something missing? I also suffered with the same problem most people like me suffer from. I knew that something was lacking in the taste but could never understand what was missing.
My cooking experience ….
To find an answer to my dilemma I have decided to learn the art and science of cooking. It has been two months now that I am trying my hand at preparing food. I am not taking formal lessons but yes following Chef Ranveer Brar online. I find his method/ style easy to comprehend and follow and believe you me the results have been encouraging. He uses the right amount of ingredients and emotions to prepare the dish.
I will never become a professional chef but am sure my skill of preparing food will certainly outdo my skill of cooking up stories soon. In my last two months of cooking experience, I have found five ingredients which go a long way in making any dish taste good. These are the why, what, when and how of cooking mixed well with loads of love which make the dish what it is.
Understanding the why of cooking?
In most homes mothers cook because of age old culture that men worked out and women took care of homes. That is another reason that you find more male chefs in hotels. The first food tasted by a child is the one prepared by the mother and that is the taste which he/ she carries lifelong. They usually keep searching for it wherever they go.
There is a reason why normally we do not miss the taste of food prepared by a chef but miss the simple food our mothers prepared. It is the ‘Why’ which makes the difference. Mothers prepare food because of the love and care they have for the family. Most chefs cook because they want to earn money; it is just a profession for them. Chefs fail to do to mix love and emotions in their dishes that mothers do.
If you cook just to feed stomachs or earn money than the taste will be found wanting. Try cooking for just the love of it and for the love of the people you cook for you will experience the difference. Preparing food is much more than a sheer job.
What are you cooking?
What is to be cooked follows the why of it. While in hotels/ restaurants what is to be cooked is dictated by the laid down menu but at homes it is dependent on emotions, likes of the members and the occasion. There is no fixed menu at homes, no copy book style is followed.
What all ingredients are to be used can be found in books but that is not enough. Every mother, every chef decides what all to use based on their own personal experiences and the taste of members being served.
How to cook?
How to cook follows what to cook decision. After quite a bit of hit and trials I have learnt that the method used to cook varies from dish to dish. Cooking is not just about putting all ingredients together and heating it up. Some dishes are to be baked while others need to be fried, roasted, boiled, steamed, braised, or barbecued. Little bit of over or under preparation makes a huge difference in the outcome. The taste not only depends on the type and amount of ingredients to be used but also on the time required and the heat intensity. How the spices are prepared also makes a huge difference to the taste. Even the moisture content matters, and I thought cooking did not require that much brain.
The art of cooking has nothing to do with formal education you got to have the mind and heart at the right place to get that perfect taste.
The ‘when’ of cooking….
The ‘when’ is all about getting the timing correct. There are different dishes for different occasions, weathers, and moods. The exact ingredients to be used in a dish can be found in books but when and how to use them comes with experience. At what time or stage of cooking an ingredient is added to a dish can make or mar the taste. Now I realise why some of the cooks could not bring out the best taste in a dish despite getting all the ingredients correct. Maybe they got the timing wrong, and the aroma failed to convince my brain.
Every person first relishes the dish with his/ her eyes before tasting it. Though every dish which is presented well may not always taste good, but my experience says What the eyes has accepted the stomach entertains. Most of the home cooks put in that hard but fail to showcase their creativity in the right manner. It may be the best tasting dish but if it does not appeal to the eyes the game is lost.
I am convinced that cooking is both an art and science and certainly not easy to master. A person may get the why, what, how, when, the presentation and all spices right but what makes the difference in the outcome is the right mix of love and emotions. Getting the emotions right at 40-to-45-degree temperature is not easy.
My one suggestion to all moms is do teach your children, especially sons, to cook. It will help them in mixing the emotions well and keep the happiness index high in their lives. No online food delivery platform, Zomato or Swiggy, can make the food taste as good as it should.
One major lesson I learnt from cooking is that whatever you prepare with your own hands always looks and tastes good.