No one cooks like my mum: this is a fact. I still maintain that part of the reason I was so hesitant about cooking anything in the first few years I was living in apartments was because I was trying to replicate something that came with years of experience and finesse.
In fact, when I went back home recently, my mum said something eerily similar. “Stop worrying about whether or not it tastes like mine; everyone cooks differently! So you’ll add more of something and less of something else, so what? Cook what you like!” This, by the way, from the same woman who chewed me out for making dosa counterclockwise instead of clockwise.
As with so many other things in my life, my mum is right about that. I took her awesome South Indian food pretty much for granted when I had it, effort free every day (on my side anyway), that when I got to America every vegetable was a potential disaster. Potatoes, for example, were frankly inscrutable*.
Now, however, with a little — no, a lot — of trial and error, I’ve figured out a few things. I have some basic recipes, like stir fries and couscous with vegetables and sambar and lentil stew and chole. And of course pasta, but that’s for desperate/lazy times.
Here’s the thing: most of those recipes aren’t Indian, and I discovered something else about vegetables along the way. If you cooked them just about right, you could taste them for what they were and they could taste good! E.g. a recent discovery, roasted root vegetables with garlic and balsamic vinaigrette.
Tonight’s accomplishment is something I’d done before, but it gets easier and better every time. I think so, anyway.
*Mum’s tip: use the giant “American” Russet potatoes for potato curry so they don’t disintegrate.