When You Learn Science Through Cooking


My mother’s veg pulav is one of those good things in life. Even the crow which my parents have adopted and the dogs in our street, know my mother makes a darn good pulav. When I was younger, a neighbour of mine took my mom to her house and made my mom cook pulav in front of her. The logic was her husband liked it so much and she wanted to make sure she didn’t miss any step. At that point, I thought it was a little crazy because I was there watching my mom cook it for her. Fifteen years later, I understand her, but I will never do that for my husband. Kidnap a random aunty and make her cook in my kitchen.

Like they say, you never appreciate what you have, pulav was never my favorite. Rather, I had devised my own recipe for it which was very different from my mother’s. But one day, I decided, I am going to ditch that and replicate my mother’s pulav. I was also at a very weird phase at that time. I would cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time that is in the morning. I thought it would save the rest of the day for me. Fortunately it was cornflakes day. So, after breakfast I thought I will make pulav for the afternoon and a bit of dhal (kind of a light curry made from lentils) for the night.

I put dhal (yellow lentils) in the cooker, chopped the vegetables and onions. I have seen my mom make pulav a million times. She has a very specific method. First she puts oil and ghee in a cooker then she puts cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. Then she puts in the chopped onions and tomatoes. Then she puts in a paste made from fresh garlic, ginger, and green chillies. After that she puts in the veggies.  After that the soaked rice, and then most importantly, instead of , say, two cups of water she puts one cup of milk and one cup of water.

It was all going good till I put the green paste. I felt a sudden need to save time; I could feel, slightly, the stupidity fairy around me. I took a pan and put it on the other stove, for the tempering for the dhal. While the oil was getting hot, I put the veggies and the soaked rice for the pulav. On this stove I put mustard seeds and curry leaves. And by now the stupidity fairy had taken over my body. I felt this need to shake the small pan after putting in the curry leaves. One curry leaf jumped out and caught fire. And soon I was holding a pan full of fire. Here, the pulav after putting the soaked rice was losing moisture and almost about to burn. I had to put water to it. But first I had to put water to the fire in the pan.

Somehow, I managed to clear my mind. I switched off both the stoves with my other hand and put water to the fire. I put a plate to cover the uncooked pulav till I could figure out what the hell was happening. After a few minutes, I put water and milk to the cooker and switched on the stove. Made the tempering for the dhal again. But this time in a bigger pan, and of course, without the curry leaves. As I was washing the dishes, I realized a plate of mine had lost its shape a little bit. And soon, in one of the most enlightening moments of my life, I realized two things.

  1. The heat from the cooker made the plate like that. Plastic tends to melt when exposed to heat.
  2. Shit, that’s why there were so many steel plates in the kitchen.

Husband’s Verdict:

What happened to the plate?

Maybe you will find out in my blog.

Hmmm, maybe I will find out why you didn’t put salt to the pulav also.

Mental Notes

Plastic melts when exposed to heat? That’s enlightenment? It is as obvious as aunties expecting you to be pregnant as soon as you get married.

Curry Leaves?  Not your friend.

Aunties?  Not your friends.

Your real friends? Well, after this blog, very doubtful you will have any left.

Salt? Ah, stop it now.


8 thoughts on “When You Learn Science Through Cooking

  1. I think multi tasking is not your forte 😛 You are like old nokia phones, excellent at doing everything except multitasking 😉


  2. Excellent pieces of work. They all piece together perfectly yet are so distinct from each other. The article in itself feels very alive and realistic while I’m reading it. Perfect use of the husband character. He is so dubious. 😛


    • Hello, Vikram. Nice to see you here. Thank you so much for the comment. Must say, pretty detailed and well written. You must try writing something if you haven’t already. 🙂 Well, you know my husband more than me. 😛


      • Thanks… Nice to see your work here. Sadly No, I haven’t tried any writing besides the usual literature in college and uni. Hehehe…. the last line in your reply doesn’t augur well for your husband n me, does it? 😛


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