Last week there was a time when I was feeling a bit low and not willing to go out. My friend Ramesh invited me to join him for some vada sambar in a very nice restaurant in our neighbourhood but I just could not get up enough enthusiasm for the escapade and he went alone. The invitation however reminded me that I had not cooked either a medu vada or a masala vada at home for over seven years. There is a vendor who comes everyday with idlies and vadas from who I had been buying these delicacies on and off, particularly when my father was alive. I had stopped that too in an effort to cut down on fried food!
I decided to cook the masala vada the next day and soaked the dal early in the morning on Sunday. Between Manjiree who was at home it being a Sunday, and me, we cooked up a storm and we came up with this.
The vadais are stored in a keep warm casserole.
This brought to mind many other dishes that I used to cook. I have more or less stopped now for quite some time because I find other things to do and find less time to cook. Or at least that is the excuse I give myself.
My interest in cooking started when I was posted in Mumbai in the mid eighties when a lot of my friends from Hyderabad who were working in the Middle East used to pass through our home as transit point while on their way out to or in from the Middle East. These were all men who used to cook for themselves and while staying at home would insist on cooking for us. When I saw that these hard core macho men who otherwise would not go any where near their kitchens at home in Hyderabad had become such good cooks, I tried my hand under their guidance and got hooked. From that time onwards, I used to meet chefs in restaurants and ask them for recipes for dishes that I had liked cooked by them and I still have a lot of those typed and filed neatly.
I used to take pride in cooking and would tease ladies that the world’s best chefs are men and even in India, no woman can cook as well as our traditional samayalkaran (Tamil for male cook) or maharaj (Hindi for male cook) of for that matter all those great cooks in our dhabas throughout the country. I never had to compete with any one to establish my credentials but the satisfaction of seeing people appreciate and eat what I had cooked was enough motivation to keep me going.
With this new beginning perhaps I will go back again to cooking! If I do, I shall post photographs and recipes.