Travel & Food

The Culinary Exam: Baptism by Fire for a New Bride

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dr. Preeti shares her experience of cooking gourmet dishes as a new bride for the family, a tough exam in a girl’s life. An exclusive for Different Truths.

The history behind my love for cooking gourmet dishes has an interesting story behind it. Two decades back the minute I was hitched, friends and relatives started doling out advice on how to get into a man’s heart. Their tried and tested formula being it is only through good food does one get entry into a man’s heart.

 I was skeptical whether this held true or it was just a figment of their imagination. My mother had been after my life to learn the basic culinary skills but had just experimented with snacks nothing more. I wasn’t keen about cooking and my belief was it was just like a Chemistry experiment. Adding the reactants and in a jiffy getting the products. I found it crazy when I saw ladies spending a major part of their day cooking and catering to the whims and fancies of different family members.

I was asked to cook a full meal along with the sweet dish.

Just a few days into marriage the custom to induct the new bride into the household by asking her to cook her first meal in her marital home is a ritual, which scares the wits out of a new bride. I too was asked to enter the kitchen after a week of marriage. Generally, a sweet dish is prepared by the bride and then the family tests her culinary skills. This exam is the toughest exam in a girl’s life. I was asked to cook a full meal along with the sweet dish. Now, I was on pins and needles scared that I might goof up in this exam. My mother’s words to learn proper cooking resounded in my ears.

I decided to take up the daunting task with a smile. Those days there were no YouTube or WhatsApp available to us. Our only refuge were the cookbooks, but I had carried none. My MiL (mother-in-law) shooed everyone out of the kitchen, gave me a kitchen tour and left me to manage on my own. There was no one to help or guide me. I had read a few cook books and the gourmet dishes looked alluring. I decided to impress my new family by making a gourmet spread. I had always felt cooking was similar to Chemistry, and I set to work. Though a bit nervous still I went ahead with my decision. Thankfully I had the idea of lentils and spices when I had made snacks. I wasn’t so naive in this field. So, it was Biryani, Palak Paneer and Shahi Tukda for dessert.

Crossing this exam was no less than walking on hot coals. I had tried very hard to capture the authentic taste.

I started my preparations with gusto and took a good three hours to prepare the meal. The family ensconced in the living room waiting impatiently for their meal.

PC: dawoodbiriyani.com

Their stomachs rumbled and tumbled as it had passed their lunchtime and they were ravenous. I set the table and put the lavish spread in front of them. Crossing this exam was no less than walking on hot coals. I had tried very hard to capture the authentic taste. As the family started having the meal, I watched with bated breath a la Master Chef moment. I was a bit nervous as they made weird faces while eating but said nothing. I couldn’t fathom whether I would be getting barbs or accolades. After they had eaten, they asked me whether I had any knowledge regarding the origin and history of these dishes. I had to say no as I hadn’t bothered to ever find out about the cuisines I ate. They were all connoisseurs and wanted me to be like one of them. So, to be inducted into the new family I decided to research and learn more about the various cuisines.

I am sharing the origin of the above three dishes, which made me take up research on foods.

Biryani

It is derived from a Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj the Persian word for rice.

It is derived from a Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj the Persian word for rice. It is said Biryani originated from Persia and was brought to India. Traditionally the dish was cooked over charcoal fire in an earthen pot. The traditional Mughal Biryani contained spiced meat chunks and Kewra scented rice which made people drool. There are several variations in biryani, it may contain mutton, chicken or vegetable pieces. It is a mix of rice and either meat or vegetables well spiced and cooked in a closed vessel on a low heat.

Palak Paneer

It is spinach curry with sautéed paneer or cottage cheese.

This originated in northern India. Palak in Hindi means spinach. It is spinach curry with sautéed paneer or cottage cheese. Other ingredients are onions, tomatoes and sliced green chillies which add flavour to the dish. It is seasoned with ginger, garlic and garam masala. It is purely a vegetarian dish popular in Punjabi households.

Shahi Tukda

It is a Mughlai dessert from the Nawabi cuisine.

PC: https://food.ndtv.com/recipe-shahi-tukda-232874

As the name suggests is a royal dessert. It is an exotic bread pudding with lots of nuts and flavoured with cardamom. It is a Mughlai dessert from the Nawabi cuisine. The dessert has originated from West Punjab (now, Pakistan) and was propagated during the Mughal era. Bread pieces are fried and then dipped in thick, sweetened milk and garnished with nuts and flavoured with cardamom powder. It is a delicious and rich dessert, which can tantalise your taste buds.

So, a subtle remark started this journey of learning the history of various cuisines.

Photos from the Internet


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2 Comments
  1. Rupa Rao 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    Dr Talwar-a lady after anyones heart who weilds pen and pan with equal elan- what a fabulous read!! loved it!!!

    • Preeti 2 weeks ago
      Reply

      Thank you so much Rupa your comment on the article made my day

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