Art of Cooking
Cooking comes naturally to mothers! You can be a slow cook, a bad cook, a great cook…but you have to cook meals and of course the stories to go with it.
My journey in this field has been amazing giving me an understanding of the philosophical side of hunger. A hungry and crying baby will always seek its mother. The comfort of your mothers cooking is something we can easily relate. And it continues throughout life. There is an uncanny connection of a child’s hunger with the mother. No matter how grown up the child is the mother instinctively realizes and will ask ‘Have you eaten something?’ You can recollect the worried looks on your mother’s face when you tell her you have had no time to eat as you rush through work.
Cooking her favourite dish excites me. I like to surprise her and watch the dancing stars in her eyes when she notices her favourite dish on the table. Her excited chatter is enough for me to give in. But then I need to worry about nutrition too.
It’s not easy to explain a child the importance of eating healthy. With the market overflowing with fast food and crazy food items how long can you protect? When she was a toddler I had set few rules which of course I have been following-
No chips packets
No aerated drinks in the house
No fried snacks
These three rules are followed religiously and have helped us to have a balanced and healthy diet.
It was easy when she was a toddler because her interaction with the outside world was limited and I could monitor. But once she started school she realized there was a long list of forbidden but extremely tempting food available outside. I was growing as a parent too. It would have impractical to just become an authoritarian parent and insist on the rules. I found some strategies that helped me. I am happy to share with everyone here.
I made a PPT presentation of her lunch box menu consulting her and gave her three choices to choose from. This made her feel important and gave her freedom of choice. So every day there was one fruit in the lunch box with either a vegetable paratha , or a sandwich .She could choose fruit juice too on two days of the week. On Friday she could have her favourite junk food. There were few tantrums but I tried explaining her. She understands the importance of eating right. Her interest in her looks is another motivating factor, though I feel she is too young for all that. She is growing up fast and soon I would worry about her boyfriends more than her lunch.
I am very lazy when it comes to cooking. This has helped to develop a creative way of cooking while reducing the stress and toil get a dish which can be enjoyed without any hesitation. Cooking stories have helped definitely and made me a fair cook.
Last year in the summer holidays I introduced her to this art of cooking. And the results were great. We bought a nice bright apron with the design of bright cherries. Her excitement was infectious.
The first dish she tried her hand was aloo tikki. Washing hands before entering the cooking arena is a rule she knows since she was a toddler. I gave her a plastic grater to grate the boiled potatoes. She chose the ingredients she wanted to add. It was ginger, chopped coriander and salt. She omitted green chilli. Her concentration helped her to form perfect rounded tikkis. My daughter is a perfectionist when it comes to shapes, no wonder she draws so well!
The hot griddle with a teaspoon of oil was on the gas as I helped to lay the five tikkies. Soon the dish was ready to eat. We took the plates to the dining room and laid the table. I had kept some lettuce leaves in ice cool water and the fresh crisp lettuce looked tempting. There was nice tangy imly chutney to go with. She enjoyed decorating it on her plate. Finally she ate without remembering even once that she hated tikkis……
It was a wonderful bright afternoon we spent in the kitchen. That day I found out a peaceful way to make her eat dishes she refused to eat without tasting. Getting kids involved can get them interested and no kid will refuse to eat what she herself has cooked. I feel boys should be taught to cook too.
Since that day she has graduated to making more complicated stuff. She makes sandwiches, bhel puri and sprout chat and fruit chat.
These holidays she wants to try her hand on making ice-cream. Good going, I should say for a seven year old child and mom.
First Published on Sulekha