Three Lads Making Dinner

March 14th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

This being on crutches thing has some odd benefits. Today, I choreographed number two (in college) and number three (still home) sons in cuisine. Number three (the adult on his own) came for dinner and arrived in time to finish up the chapatis.

I can do a modest, very modest, amount in the kitchen. That’s hard on an old cooky who is used to making multiple dishes at a time. Not being able to carry food in transition from sink to stove, not being able to stand and stir, and not being able to do much at all is at best frustrating.

Today though, I was the choreographer, while two and three made a fairly elaborate Indian meal for the family.

Number two is seven hours away at college. He has minimal cookware for the shared dorm kitchen. His one pot/one pan set reminds me of my early bachelor years.

He asked for recipes and particularly for Indian food. I am amused when the invariable question when someone hears that I am the primary cook here is “What kind of food do you cook — Italian? Chinese?” It’s the rare type that I don’t know and cook. For some reason the guys have always enjoyed the Indian meals, even after the steaming thrill of poori is gone.

However, it remains a bit challenging to climb into the WABAC machine and plan for limited tools and ingredients. However, I ran through the essentials and produced simplified instructions for:

  • Banana and coconut-milk curry for shrimp or chicken
  • Tomato-based curry for chicken or beef
  • Dry vegetables (alu mattar)
  • Vegetable curry
  • Chapati

In consideration of limited herbs and spices, ease and speed of preparation, and some resulting wow factor for guests, I reduced them to the basics. As a side effect, this made my guy-on-crutches choreography simple as well.

cooks.jpgNumber two and three were eager to learn a bit and be able to claim they made the whole meal. When each one had his own dishes to prepare, their usual competitiveness turned into focus on the food at hand.

In a way, it was like having four hands. It is certainly simpler to instruct two people simultaneously and see the work done from a distance. Today included the tomato-based curried chicken, alu mattar, chapati, papadum, green pepper raita, rice and some jars of chutneys and pickle.

My two-legged, stand-for-long-periods self would have no trouble doing it all and probably more quickly. However, that person is in the past and future. The current version needed and appreciated surrogate chefs.

This turned out to be a good test run for the minimized recipes for number two. The entrées did in fact work well, taste fine, and look attractive. I am sure they would have been better with my fuller set of ingredients, but they are what I intended. They are something a college student can shop for and prepare in a starter kitchen.

I have been teaching two and three for some time. This was a satisfying show of their confidence and competence. Neither had cooked these dishes before and both did superbly, both when things were obvious and when they needed instructions and tips.

This is not in that class of attending your own memorial service, but it was comforting to see another generation of family cooks. Three lads talking food, chopping, sautéing, spicing, and tasting was my Johnny Appleseed moment today. It’s enough to make me click my heels if I could do that.


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