Thank you Nigella!

by - July 11, 2009

I have always hated cooking. All I knew to make was a cup of tea and some egg for myself. Sometimes noodles too. Back in India mostly our grandma, her sis, great grandma and mom cooked for us. When we moved to Dubai it was all up to mom. So since we have so many people to cook and feed us all the time, why should I bother getting into the kitchen? Moreover, after I got engaged I hated cooking even more. Not because I had to start trying it out but because of the way people kept asking me the same question over and over again - do you know to cook? What dishes do you know? How are you going to cook for the two of you after you get married? So on and so forth. I used to give a diplomatic reply stating although I am not great in making specialities, I can cook for us to survive. Not many were happy with that answer. However, deep inside I started worrying and decided to pay more attention on how different dishes were prepared and collected few recipes. I thought that was enough. Little did I know that that wasn't enough.

And so I get married and move to my new home. I loved cleaning and adding touches to it that made it look like our home.When my husband was off to work I hardly had anything to do. So I spent half of the time cleaning or finishing other household chores and half of it watching TV. I dreaded 4pm as by then my husband would be home and would go straight into the kitchen to check what I had made for him. Most of the time I disappointed him. The curry was either too spicy or too salty or simply burnt because of my carelessness. He loved chapatis and since our family hardly ate chapatis, I couldn't even get the dough right in the first place. I hated myself for torturing him with my . His mother and her sisters are great cooks. He is used to having tasty yummy food literally everyday. However, he is a very patient man. He used to smile at my efforts and to make me feel better took me out every evening. Ours was an arranged marriage. We hardly knew each other even after our engagement. Those outings brought us closer to one another and slowly (very slowly) we were falling in love.

Days pass by, months fly by. I land up with a job in an insurance firm. My cooking improved little by little. We had guests for dinner or lunch every now and then to boost my morale. We were also blessed with a baby boy. I quit my job to stay at home with my son. I didn't know that my life in the kitchen was going to take a U Turn.

It happened during the month of Ramadan, I was at home and my son was taking his afternoon nap. I thought I will watch TV for sometime (i know i know, watching TV during Ramadan??) and while switching between channels, I noticed a very pretty British lady preparing a dish called Mughlai Chicken Curry. I was intrigued and wanted to find out how a British is going to handle an Indian curry. I loved the way she prepared it and it looked so yummy! Then she showed how to prepare pomegranate raita and sweets called chewy macaroons (she was preparing an Indian feast for her friends). Few minutes into the show, I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down everything she said. I made sure I didn't miss any single detail. I noted her shows name - Nigella Feasts (yes, the domestic goddess) and time. It runs on Discovery's Travel and Living.

I wanted to try the recipe immediately but didn't have few of the ingredients. I tell my husband to get me those when he was back home so that I could try it out in a day or two. In the meantime I went crazy googling about her and found detailed recipes of the dish which I proudly printed out. Finally, I tried it out. Very carefully, remembering everything she said. By iftar Nigella's pilaf and mughlai chicken curry were ready.

Picture Courtsey: Food Network

My husband is my biggest critique. He tells me what is missing in the dish, what would have made it better etc etc. At times I get so annoyed I tell him to get into the kitchen and cook for himself. I know he is doing it to make me feel better, still.

We heard the maghrib azaan and my husband broke his fast. After saying prayers he came back to have food. I was feeding my son and so he served himself with pilaf and curry. He tasted it and came running to me saying Neelu its the best ever. Its simply delicious! Oh, the happiness I felt. This is not the first time he liked one of my dishes, but this was the best compliment ever. I wanted to jump up and down like a child.

From then on, I watched Nigella Feasts' every episode as well as other shows like Indian Food Made Easy. Few days later, while searching for a recipe for rasmalai I stumbled on Chef Sanjay who calls himself vah chef at is like an angel sent from heaven to help women like us who struggles with their cooking. He has loads of recipes on his website and each of them taught me something new every time I watched them. Chewy macaroons of Nigella is currently popular among my relatives as neelu's badaam biscuits (i keep telling them its macaroon not biscuit, they never listen).

One might wonder, is cooking all that important? I used to think the same few years back. Now I know yes it is. Food is a necessity and something we just can't live without. The tastier it is, the better. Moreover, the smile I can spread on the faces who try my dishes these days makes it even more satisfying. Now, I am not scared to try new recipes. The uncertainty does not worry me anymore. The old saying 'way to a man's heart is his stomach' is simply true. I have always noticed that when I cooked well and fed my husband well he was all happy. And his happiness spreads to me and makes me at peace with myself. After all, we live our life for our loved ones, don't we?

Thank you Nigella and Vah Chef. You have completely changed my life in the kitchen and helped me in becoming a domestic goddess...Thank you!

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  1. Neelu..ah. i knew u were always lazy..lil did i know that Jamil had to taste all those ..burnt dishes u used to watch nigella's show on Discovery..U should take a while and watch Kylie kowng too..she's also an amazing cook..even she comes on the same channel..M waiting to taste ur macaroons..

  2. :) it wasnt laziness da. i hated it. when you hate something you never do good in it. the moment i started loving it, i improved and did well.

    yes i do watch kylie kwong. infact i watch literallye every cookery show i can get hold of. i may not be able to try out all of them, but i do get some great tips or learn something new from each.


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