Not particularly being fond of cooking, my entry into kitchen is primarily need based – satisfy the hunger. With foodies around ( and me being one), staying with cooking enthusiasts (my dad) and now this lockdown, my exposure to kitchen has significantly increased. In the past two months, I have up-skilled myself to more than just survival cooking and also built up stamina for cooking twice (or sometimes even thrice) daily. My mom must be beaming with pride.
To be honest, one target which I had loosely set for myself was learning to make proper round shape chapatis (roti /Indian flat bread), consistently. 3 out of 10 times (or should I put it as 3 of 10 chapatis every 3rd attempt.. some silly statistical derivation) I have almost reached the shape but consistency has been missing.
Some days, the shape was distorted beyond imagination, while on some days, every attempt was near-success. Unknowingly I had started observing, or rather doing some root-cause analysis. And the result..
- Its all in the dough!! Its firmness, consistency and texture. Neither too loose, nor too tight. Neither too sticky, not too dry. Soft, easy to roll and just the right moisture, is the key.
- A drop of water, can literally drown you !! I remember my dad tell me, while kneading you make think a little bit extra water gets adjusted but when you leave the dough to set, it loosens up. So be careful.
- Timing matters !! Longer the time the time gap between when it is kneaded and when the actual rotis are made, more difficult it is to get the shape. Know when you need to make, accordingly adjust the water content
- Give time!! Rotis made at dinner are closer to the round shape because the loosened up dough, which went into the fridge, got some time to tighten up
- Along with the flame, keep check on your frustration levels !! The more heated the pan is, the more burnt output you will get. So instead of fretting and fuming and getting annoyed, learn to relax and accept what you make.
Matters didn’t end there. I kept on thinking (oh yes, that’s my second nature, or is it first??) and some deeper realisations or if I can say, some lessons and philosophies for life I realised
- Mind is like a dough. Knead it well. If tight (restrained), then you cannot spread out and explore. If its loose, then nothing is your control and you go in the flow, without any direction
- Lowering the flame is your hands. Each one us through difficult times, in heated situations. Keep calm and march on.
- Yes, time is best healer. Things may have gone out of control, give it some time, do something which will get back things on track
- Look beyond what you can see. Perfection in looks (shape) doesn’t matter as much as the substance and the feelings.
- Be in present and enjoy the moment. If you keep on thinking (even while cooking), you are not paying attention to the present. This may result in present getting distorted.
My lovely, accommodating and never (ok.. rarely.. ok a little more than rarely) complaining family has always been supportive, even though getting food ordered from outside was always an option.
“Whatever you make, however you make, we’ll eat. No matter if its burnt, or hard or stretchy like rubber, we’ll eat”
These motivating words keeps my cooking adventures on.
And the goal of making perfect round chapatis.. still is on.