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Nadodikattu VII: Operation “Shhappaaddu”

January 31, 2009

Shhappaaddu” in Trivandrum slang Malayalam means Thali (for the Hindi inclined) or Meals (for the English inclined). If you say plain “Saapaadu”, you get a Tamil word and if you stress on the “hhh” and the “pp” using the perfect nasal twang, you get the Trivandrum mallu slang word.

What you see below is a small snippet of what has, in a span of a month become my Bible, my Koran, my Tipitaka, my Tattvartha Sutra, my Kamasutra, my Gita, my Rig Veda.

Just like Buddha Saar, became “The Enlightened One” under a Boddhi tree, or Newton Saar under an apple tree, I got enlightened when I was standing….err….standing under an exhaust fan for a good 3 hours. I realized that cooking was not an easy thing to do. Actually, I realized that cooking good food was not a simple task!!

The whole of last week, I managed to elude the “pleasure” of having to cook as I had a valid excuse of working long hours and my roommates had to put up with that! But it all changed this Monday. This Monday when I reached home at 7 PM, they were all waiting for me like how the lions wait for its prey or like how the ancient Aztecs used to wait for their sacrificial human guinea pig!

Mr. SV, a good Mallu who did not believe in small talk, went directly to the point,
“Mashe, innu dal choorum urulekazhangu fry madhi”, which when directly translated means “Teacher, today dal, rice and potato fry enough”.
But if you are a keen observer of human nature like I am, you get,
“You sloth, enough of this nonsense, you definitely have to cook dal, rice and potato fry today”.
Mr. SS, a fake Jain added, “Pagle, don’t use garlic, baki sab tik hai”.

And with a telepathic understanding, both of them left me high and dry.
SV managed to hide his impressive 42 inch frames behind his 15 inch laptop screen and SS dived into his bed sack pretending to sleep, leaving me all alone in the big kitchen………

At that moment, I felt like a young kid whose instructor was about to throw him into the deeper end of the pool. At that moment, I realized that it was going to be a trial by fire, a real test and I was actually curious to test my skills. My skills at that point entirely comprised of theoretical knowledge that my aunt had written down in a piece of paper before I left for the US. I read that paper a good three times to inculcate good cooking habits; coz the instructions included points like washing the rice trice before putting it into the cooker and to not use the ends of the onions or the insides of a capsicum. (God Bless Mrs. MS in Mumbai).

When I looked around the kitchen, I realized that not a single vessel had been washed and that the floor contained food samples from the whole week, right from the cabbage we had last Monday to the pizza we had on Sunday. Being a stickler for cleanliness (just kidding), I went about in clinical fashion to clean up the mess which took me a good hour!! At about 8, I realized that I was exhausted and that the kitchen was not looking any better so then, I decided to chuck that approach and went into phase two.

In the second phase of the project (yeah, I tend to glorify such things), I took down a list/inventory of all that I would need and decided that cutting the vegetables would be the apt thing to do under such circumstances. You would not believe me guys, but I never have before in my life, faced such a rebellious stack of vegetables.

The stupid onions tried every dirty tactics they had in their rule book so that I would give up on my task. They even made this (otherwise stoic) ordinary guy CRY! The potatoes were no better. They tried running away from me as much as possible (which hurt this innocent guy) and I was made to get up multiple times to pick them up from the floor. The tomatoes, aahh… less said the better. I think that they took umbrage to the fact that I had not treated the other vegetables with respect. When I finished cutting the tomatoes, I was left with a thick paste with not a single piece intact. Indecent fellows, I tell you………
I also realized that the “Biggest Charlatan” award for the vegetable family has to be given to the Capsicum. They are impressive looking, green and big when you buy them, but when you have them nicely chopped up, you realize that you are left behind with exactly 1/10th of what you had originally.
But yes, finally (for the record) I did manage to put down the rebellion of those silly vegetables with an iron fist!!

I then realized that the easiest part in the “Cooking Experience” was the actual cooking!!! And thus, the third phase commenced when this brave soul started cooking, again with the single shred of paper as his guide and mentor. By that time, I was done, it was 10 PM and the kitchen looked as if a tsunami had hit it.

The cooking was pretty much uneventful except for this:

Don’t ask me as to how I managed to do this but I think the pan ended up like that due to a complicated series of occurrences which included activities like washing it, cooking food in it, dancing with it, throwing it around, stepping on it and cursing it. In my humble opinion, I think that it was the cursing part which did it in!!! (Don’t know if it was the Mallu or the Hindi or the Tamil curses which worked!!!).

PS: The food was edible to say the least and I now have respect, respect for the millions of people who have to deal with this day in and out. Give me a hundred kilo lines of code to review any day; I would rather do that than cook!
PPS: I really now need to find out of there is a decent Jumbo Vadapav joint where I live.
PPPS: I survived the ordeal listening to this, which reminded me of this.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Renu permalink
    January 31, 2009 3:18 am

    LOL:), you are a writer,and woven a beautiful story of the facts:),
    unable to fathom why boys are so clumsy at cooking:)

  2. Ajit permalink
    January 31, 2009 3:26 am

    clumsy…. let me see…
    maybe it is due to the fact that i am a saggitarius….P

  3. Ajit permalink
    January 31, 2009 3:33 am

    and boys, because we simply are not used to it….

  4. Renu permalink
    January 31, 2009 3:49 am

    Noooooooooo please dont say that, I am also a saggi:)

  5. Indian Home Maker permalink
    January 31, 2009 4:37 am

    LOL 🙂 You need some easy cooking tricks from someone who learnt exactly the same way?!

    I have been through this and worse, and there was a time I really felt cooking was impossible to enjoy! I think what did make it fun was good company and music 🙂 When I got married all (uninvited) guests were invited into the kitchen, someone chopped onion, someone peeled garlic and somebody else gave directions and served coffee … and we danced in between … you guys are making a chore out of a fun activity!

    And you are a Sagittarius on top of that! :)))

  6. Ajit permalink
    January 31, 2009 4:39 am

    hahaha 🙂 IHM…….
    if there is something that i hate, it is cooking.. 😛
    but yes, i will make it as enjoyable as possible….

  7. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    January 31, 2009 5:14 am

    Ajit, you are wasting your time reviewing code…you have the story telling gift…start writing the next White Tiger…but with readers, not the Booker in mind. Otherwise you will wind up getting neither!

    Great read.

  8. Ajit permalink
    January 31, 2009 5:32 am

    Hey Thanks Vinod ji,
    That was really good to hear….
    😛 Thanks!!!!
    and yes, i just might, some day write a book… which no one will read…..:)

  9. Kislay permalink
    January 31, 2009 5:38 am

    “Give me a hundred kilo lines of code to review any day; I would rather do that than cook!” Seriously mate ? Would you rather do that ? OMG !

  10. Ajit permalink
    January 31, 2009 5:39 am

    figure of speech 😛
    nothing more than that dost….

  11. Usha Pisharody permalink
    January 31, 2009 6:10 am

    Underscore IHM and Vinod Sharma’s suggestions… all the way!

    Loved reading it.. and what an apt title! Missed the Malappuram kathi… dialogue though.. could have added it with veggies.. LOL!

    Good going Ajit!

  12. Solilo permalink
    January 31, 2009 6:18 am

    :)) That pan! did you throw it away?

    BTW wash Onions under cold water for sometime and then cut to see if it still makes you cry. It has worked for me because I can’t stand Onion smell and with tears I get severe headache. So this trick has worked for me.

  13. Ajit permalink
    January 31, 2009 6:21 am

    hey Usha,
    chaaaa…. i missed the mallapuram kathi…. 🙂 should have thought about that.. 🙂

    nooooooo wayssssssss, we still have the pan, it is a part of this household….. 🙂
    and thanks for the advice, will use that next time i cook (when it is my turn)…

  14. amit permalink
    January 31, 2009 9:12 am

    Even I have dropped a lot of pans in my life but never so hard that it might bend form a corner!! LOL!!
    Well, cooking is great but I don’t know why, I get bored after sometime!

  15. Winnie the poohi permalink
    January 31, 2009 10:35 am

    Welcome to the world of “cooking”

  16. Indyeah permalink
    January 31, 2009 4:10 pm

    lol!:)I have arrived late!and my loss entirely!:D..I could have ben grinning over this piece earlier!
    What an experience and WHAT a post!!
    Amazing rocking humour!!:)

    You definitely need to write a book as Vinod sir says!You have the gift !:)
    I know a Saggitarian too..and these lines from Linda Goodman come to mind..
    ”Sometimes he’ll be foolishly coura­geous. He’ll stumble and fall, then get up and try again.”

    lol!all the best for your cooking exploits!:D

  17. Ajit permalink
    January 31, 2009 5:11 pm

    Hey Amit, maybe that happened due to frustration…. 😛
    yes, i got bored too…

    Winnie, Thanks… and now since i am in, i need to become the MASTER…..

    Hey Indyeah, my life also seems to be that way…. 🙂 Thanks!!

  18. nimis540 permalink
    January 31, 2009 7:20 pm

    Give me a hundred kilo lines of code to review any day; I would rather do that than cook!


    Well said 🙂 Keep trying,cooking is really enjoyable..


  19. Ajit permalink
    January 31, 2009 8:07 pm

    Thanks Nimmy… 🙂
    now lemme see if I can really cook… i mean good food
    i will have that oppurtunity in exactly 15 mins as i have to cook now

  20. hitch writer permalink
    February 3, 2009 12:52 pm

    Need help ??

    Send me a ticket, the pan surely wont lose its shape with me coooking !!!!

  21. Ajit permalink
    February 3, 2009 4:08 pm

    for 1/1000 th the price, i can get a new pan… so thanks but no thanks :))

  22. Reflections permalink
    February 5, 2009 11:59 am

    LOL I loved it…..but 1 teeny weeny doubt???? Where does capsicum figure in this dal, rice & potato fry.

    And tht poor pan…I dont believe that is all wht u did with it. There's something u r not telling us here. Come on, out with the truth.

  23. Ajit permalink
    February 5, 2009 3:39 pm

    Ok Holmes… 🙂
    The capsicum featured in the potato fry…. we bachelors tend to mix things that are not mixable…. 🙂

    and i am serious about the pan…. 🙂 I suppose that it could not handle my cooking….

  24. Reflections permalink
    February 6, 2009 3:55 pm



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