Chapter 4 - Too Many Cooks
Every Sunday at 4.00 PM, the women in my house settle down to a household ritual. No less sacred or seemingly pointless than any other ritual. Achamma sits up in bed with interest when the clock strikes the hour. "Geetha! Ammu! It's begun!", she calls out in a surprisingly strong voice. My aunt assumes position by her side. Even my placid mother has a gleam of fervour in her eyes as she draws up her chair. From the TV filters the initial theme music of Asianet's "Eastern Cookery Show".
Host: So today we are featuring Chicken Curry...
Achamma: Always non-vegetarian, why can't they show some good vegetarian dishes? In the Bhagvad Gita -
Host: Followed by "Gobi Manchurian" for our vegetarian viewers.
Mom: Anju! Can you bring me a pen? I need to write this down.
My mother has dozens of cookery books. Hundreds of notebooks filled with thousands of recipes that she never makes. My aunt is almost as bad.
Host: The ingredients are, 1 cup coconut, 3 green chillies...
Achamma: What is he saying?
Aunt: One minute - (mumbles to herself as she writes) 1 cup - no, 3 cups?
Achamma: Eh? What did you say?
Aunt: 3 CUPS FLOUR!!
Host: 4 chicken breasts, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper...
Mom (to Aunt): It's 1 cup flour.
Aunt: Oh, oh..(scribbles something down)
Host: Then we mix the flour with the salt, and add the pepper...
Aunt: Wait, how much salt?
Achamma: What are they adding to the flour? They should add it to -
Aunt: Mother, one minute. (To my Mom) How much salt?
Achamma: What?Aunt: ONE MINUTE! I DIDN'T HEAR!
Mom: Umm, I think it's 2 teaspoons. (Consults her notes)
Host: After you simmer it for 3 minutes, the dish is done.
Aunt: It's over?
I saw my mother's book afterwards. In cryptic code were the words, "1 cp flr. 3 tsp chick. Add water. Sim 2 mins. Done" No wonder she doesn't make any of those dishes.