Monday, April 20, 2009

Me And Jyoti: Any Rice You Can Cook, I Can Cook Better

Two recent dinners.

On the left, an aloo paratha (oddly shaped, perhaps, but a paratha to be sure), yogurt, raisins, and some more of that stuff that would have been mattar paneer had the cheese not melted.

Here on the right is leftover dinner from Jyoti. Aloo gobi, naan, and rice. (I added the raisins into the rice for what will soon be obvious reasons. Also squirted some honey on top.)

I'm going to avoid making comparisons. After all, we all know the story of how that fantasmic "mattar black bean" dish came to be. I am still at the young grasshopper stage of cookery. That's part of the reason why I ended up at Jyoti; I wanted to steal the taste memory of "real" aloo gobi so I could try to improve my own.

But... that gobi was all soggy and mushy, and the rice was terrible. Oh-my-that-rice-was-awful. Thick and overcooked and chewy and not at all fragrant. When I was plating the leftovers for dinner tonight I almost chucked the rice to replace it with my own delicious steamed basmati, but (say it with me, people) IN THIS HOUSE WE DO NOT WASTE FOOD. We do, however, dilute it with raisins to avoid constipation.

One of the more unfortunate things about teaching myself to cook is that it has made me like restaurant food less and less. I know I don't always create perfect meals and my samosas don't always close, but I don't make food that tastes like it's been sitting in an industrial vat all day long, either.

At the same time I want to go out to eat other people's cooking so I can learn more about my own; so I don't get stuck in a "food culture" of half-Madhur Jaffrey, half-Barbara Kingsolver, and half-weird. But when I go out to places (Indian or otherwise) I find myself thinking things like "well, this is mushy" or "this is bland" or "this rice is a crime against humanity."

I am becoming a food snob.


What do I do now?

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