I'd always known that my nephew Chandy is extraordinarily brilliant. But I discovered yesterday that his brilliance was not confined to academics alone.
He is brilliant in the kitchen too.
On a two week vacation from work, Chandy came to spend a couple of days with us. In his typical quiet unobtrusive way he said, “Ammai, if you want, I’ll cook dinner”
“Wonderful”, I said.
I was happy but a little apprehensive. I told my cook that my nephew was taking care of the dinner, and suggested that she keep a standby dinner ready before she leaves, just in case.
At 4 PM, Chandy in his usual, quiet much-ado-about-nothing manner came to me with a list.
“Ammai, these are the things I want. What’s in the house and what do I have to buy”
He sat there scoring off whatever he didn’t need to buy. Then he went out to buy them.
He came back in half hour, left the purchases in the kitchen and went in for his shower.
I began to get nervous. It was five o clock. Does this guy know how much time cooking takes? I went into the kitchen and washed the chicken and left it to drain.
Ten minutes after that, I saw Chandy walk into the kitchen with his laptop.
What on earth is going to do with the laptop, I wondered. Then I heard music coming from the kitchen.
I waited for him come to me asking where the things were kept. He didn’t turn up. I was planning to go in when he called me, and hang around and clean up the mess untrained people create as and when it was created so that the kitchen wouldn't look like the Armageddon.
I waited for half hour. Chandy did not seek my help. Does he know he has to rinse the vessels before using them? Does he know dhanya powder from garam masala powder. Getting a little jittery, I went into to see what he was up to. Virtual cooking? Thank God I'd asked the cook to have something ready in reserve.
I saw him chopping onions as though he was born chopping them. The chicken was deeply marinated in curds with reddish tinge. And the music played in the background.
Pretending I wanted the recipe, I asked him what he'd added to the curds.
“Only chilly powder and salt, ammai”
“From where did you get chilly powder?”
“There” he said, pointing to the shelf where it was usually kept.
How did he know where it was kept?
I hovered around, talking about music and other stuff – excuses to monitor him and help him.
The boy did not need my help. He knew where everything was kept. He knew all the rules of hygiene. He knew that if he didn’t clean up the mess immediately, the kitchen would look like a battlefield. He knew his way about in the kitchen.
And he moved around, quietly, confidently. By 8.30 pm a fabulous dinner was ready. He set the table and the spread was complete with a delicious raitha.
The chicken curry was simply out of this world. Said it was a Pakistani preparation customized to the Kerala palate. The chilly paneer was simply divine.
“Where did you learn to do all this, Chandy?”
He answered with his sweet unassuming smile.
He is truly a genius. I guess for a PG electronic engineer from BITS Pilani, holding important engineering position in one of the best Oil companies in the world, making a few dishes neatly is mere kid’s play.
And I make such a song and dance about cooking!
I got a little nervous cooking breakfast for him this morning. Didn’t dare to ask him if the food I cooked was tasty.
I have decided that hereafter I shall carry my laptop to the kitchen when I cook fancy dishes. Cooking to the sound of music, I guess , will make them taste exotic.
Chandy is on my blogroll. Twenty Five thoughts.