Before I write about my initiation in the kitchen,its important that I write about the circumstances that brought it on.
When I was almost 10 and my sister 7, my dad was transferred to Saudi Arabia.He worked for a reputed Cement Company and was deputed to their cement plant in S.A. As with all chemical industries, this factory was also situated away from the city. They had built a colony for their employees a few miles from the factory and that became our new home.It was the most beautiful place I ever saw. No matter where you were you could see the sea-The Red Sea.And we had our own backyard filled with SAND!! What more could two kids want?Apparently there was something that was missing- a school. The only big school was in a city called Jeddah 4-5 hrs away. To make this the best arrangement for their kids, all the ladies in the colony decided to start a small school in an empty Villa. Each class had about 2-3 kids .The maximum strength that year being of grade 1 and that was 6 kids. As it turned out ,I was in grade 5 and there was no other kid with me. And so, I had to be home tutored. My mom taught me all the subjects except Science and Maths. And another lovely lady started tutoring me with those two subjects.It was not the best situation and definitely not one my parents would have chosen for me, given a choice.But that was the best we had.
But keeping a high energy 10 year old entertained all the time was not easy.Since I was used to studying independently from a very young age, I found it easy to fit in this pattern. I would be done my assignments long before I was supposed to, and then would go and hang out in the kitchen with my mom. I would pretend that she was a big chef and I was her assistant and a TV show host,commenting on her each and every action- rite from rinsing the veggies to chopping them. Mom decided to channelise this into something creative and asked me how I would like to be a big girl and help her out. I was thrilled. The first thing I learnt to make was Tea! A nice hot aromatic cuppa chai! But I was still not allowed to light the gas stove. Mom would do that for me and keep a close eye on me. I still remember how I memorised the proportions- in a sing-song way-
1 cup water,1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp chai!! yayyy 1 tsp chai!
2 choti elaichi. boil boil,boil!
1/4 cup milk.. simmer simmer simmer..
Its brown! Its done!yes its done!
hahhaa.. and that’s how I made my first few cups of chai! Perfection came with practice and I graduated to other more important things like rice. I had a similar way of remembering the proportions for making rice too.
But every time,someone came to visit,I had to show off my newly acquired skill and ask mom coyly -“Should I make tea?” And when the guests would say- “No no beta.. No need”. I would insist..”But I make good tea!” and wouldn’t give up till they complied! And I do make a mean cuppa chai! Anyone for tea?
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