The joy of cooking
The joy of cooking

The joy of cooking

The only reason I decided to become a chef and open a restaurant was because I loved food, both cooking and feeding
By Ritu Dalmia
PUBLISHED ON APR 08, 2021 01:30 PM IST

The only reason I decided to become a chef and open a restaurant was because I loved food, both cooking and feeding. However in the last few years even without realizing I was cooking less and less and doing more admin work the only time I would get my hands dirty was when I was making a new menu for the restaurants, I should not admit it on a public platform but maybe boredom had crept in??

And then the pandemic happened I was in goa to celebrate my partner’s birthday and that Sunday the lockdown got announced.

First, I was mighty pleased that I was in a nice place like Goa for the lockdown till reality hit a few days later when no fresh food was available. Essential goods had become a luxury. All my help at home was sent to the safety of their homes, and I was left to fend for myself without any ingredients and sous chefs to do my dirty work.

What started as a necessity, cooking in the next 4 month became my joy and the only thing that kept me sane. What was even better was that I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and think out of the box keeping in mind what was available.

The first few days I mastered the art of making all sorts of Gujrati farsans as I did not need many fresh ingredients for it and staples like rice lentils chickpea flour I had in abundance. The only thing growing in my garden was jackfruit, breadfruit, Green mango and chillies. Next few days was about green mango curry, mango salad, mango pulao, mango daal and finally mango skin chips for my munchies..

The focus then shifted to Jackfruit, from jackfruit Biryani to boiled jackfruit seeds with salt and pepper with my G&T, I even managed to bake a bread with Jackfruit seeds.

So far I was only preaching about zero waste cooking, I think if I am truly honest, this was really the first time when I put in practice full time. By now some basics were available and suddenly my neighbours became my guinea pigs to try the end result of this crazy need to cook non stop.

What was so funny is that I have always loved cooking Italian, but during this time I wanted to cook things I had never made from scratch, there was no one to judge me, I was not worried what the end result would be. It was liberating to cook like this, for yourself and without the pressure to prove something..

After many trial and errors, now I am proud to say I make perfect idlis, ( yes I admit I could never hack it before) Vegetable peels became my favourite ingredient, kanji was being made Mathur style with watermelon skin rather than red and black carrots. It was also time to think of our business in a different way, none of us knew when Dine in would be normal again.

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