Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In the quest of a perfect roti

(After my last post, viz, Vegetose, I recalled another post dealing with my cooking (mis) adventures – so I pulled it out from the archives. It was posted almost to the day (17th Jul to be precise) 4 years ago. Before marriage and bais and everything else happened. Hmm. Nothing much seems to have changed.)

The scene cuts to early noon on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Yours truly is sprawled in front of the television, trying as far as possible to ape the soporific habits of vegetables, idly zapping away, the mind nearly in a state of suspended animation.
Into this nearly idyllic situation enters the villain more normally known as Ma.

Ma: What are you doing in front of the TV like that - come and help me in the kitchen
Me: Huh? Who? Me? Why?
Ma: What do you mean who? You need to learn how to cook!
Me:( raising a very pertinent (according to me) query) Why?

Uh oh.. Wrong question. Next ten minutes we see a lecture on
a) how I am lazy
b) how I am of marriageable age
c) how when she was my age she managed a family and a household
d) just because I have a job does not exempt me from household tasks .
Which concludes with me reluctantly being marched into the kitchen. (I have never to this date won an argument with Ma. Sigh.)

Don’t get me wrong. I am not really hopeless cook. On occasions I have been known to whip up really rocking exotic khana - but that is when I am in the mood, when I have plenty of time, and when I’m feeling adventurous.
This daal- chawal- sabzi business - never attracted me somehow. And rotis!

Lets not even talk about rotis. Rotis have always been my bete-noire. Whatever I do, they will insist on being intractable and stubborn.

Now the perfect roti I believe is the acid test of the female, more so the ‘bahu’ of the house. It determines whether she is competent enough to be called a home manager. She might have many other sundry accomplishments like managing a high stress job and household and children or being able to dish up the most exotic seven-course meal for twenty of colleagues of her husbands on the spur of a moment – but if she cant make the perfect roti (viz. fluffy, puffed up, light and most importantly ROUND) she is still a failure in the condemning eyes of society.

Anyways I digress. Coming back to rotis. I can make rotis. Given proper encouragement I can even make rotis that reasonably look like rotis. But to expect rotis to be made fast and to be made circular is a bit MUCH.

So I make the first one, expectedly it looks like the flapping ear of an African elephant.
Ma restored to her good humor after successfully getting me into the kitchen peers at it. Muses "What shape is this? It looks like some continent"
Me: Don’t stand over my head Ma - you disturb an artist’s concentration
Ma suppresses a sound that sounds a mix between an incredulous snort and a chortle.
Ma: Your husband (mythical person this) will die of hunger by the time you finish a roti if you take so long
Me: If my non-existent and unknown husband has a problem he can jolly well make the rotis and eat them himself. And why are you taking that person’s side as opposed to your one and only daughter anyways?
Ma: (mollifying) Okay we will get a hotel management professional for you- he can cook.
(She is thoroughly convinced that a KRA of hotel management courses is to cook)
(Also, somehow I have noticed these days; conversations have a way of eventually ending up in my marriage ...wonder why! We can be talking about astrophysics but it somehow; it will veer to a conversation about my future husband hmm!)

The next two rotis progressively become more circular. If you peer from a distance, one can even mistake them to be round. Ma pats my back encouragingly - "Yes that’s better but you know try and avoid making them lumpy in the middle and thin outside next time okay?"
The next time round I make it thin inside and lumpy on the outside - so thin in fact that it’s practically a hole. Hell! Let me not beat around the bush - it is a hole!

After some more in this, Ma finally kicks me out of the kitchen assuring me that she will ensure that the feller I marry has a cook

Amen to that I say!


Abhishek said...

The advent of instant roti by HLL which did not picked up in the market...did a pilot launch in 2001-02...could well have been a vardaan for you! Was available alongside the good old bread in those days...

Epiphany said...

BTW what did your mom say when she found out your present (then future) husband wasn't gonna cook? :D

Cynic in Wonderland said...

abhishek - yus i know. sigh. born in the wrong zamana i say.

epiphany- she gloated.unfortunately my mother is not quite the hindi fillum ekta kapoor style ma. she has no qualms nikaloing hawa from me.

shub said...

so do the rotis resemble rotis now? :P

Nandini Vishwanath said...

All I can say is that you are not alone in this, Cyn.. My husband points out my rotis to my irritating nieces and nephews and goes on a : Identify the animal on the tawa round.

I keep quiet as long as those kids are occupied and do not come near me!

narendra shenoy said...

I have a patented method of making round rotis. Needs two plates.
Place mound of dough on plate 1.
Place plate 2 on plate 1.
Press plate 2 downwards.
Remove plate 2 and observe mound of dough formed into a shape far more circular than you could have rolled it.
Treat yourself to a beer.
Repeat process for more rotis.

Australopithecus said...

arey i know! my rotis look like australia and north america.

and ps: its easy to go from astrophysics to shaadi..astrophysics--stars--horoscope--shaadi.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

shub - yes they do,if you look at them from a distance.

nandini - does he make better rotis? if not bean him with the tawa. you cant just be an armchair critic no?

naren - uhm is that a naan or a roti? i had a colleague who used to boondofy the atta with beer ( instead of water) - i should introduce you to him. sound like soul mates.

austro - but she managed to make that transition from every topic in the universe! that requires some talent na?

a million different people said...

Hehe. I still don't go near the kitchen. And the one time my mother was not at home a couple of days I asked her to give me bit-by-bit instructions. Like Put some water in the cooker and keep it on the stove. Now leave that and move on to the rasam - boil water and put some tamarind in it. While it softens, ready the rice to be put in the cooker types, you know, just the way she goes about it everyday. Gawd it was wonderful. Except she said "Clean the kitchen platform" too many times. I'm framing that anyway.

Lekhni said...

I am a big fan of the frozen rotis you get here :) What, HLL has stopped making those in India?

P said...

So who makes the rotis at your home now?

If roti is the acid test for being a good bahu, I will never get married :(

Cynic in Wonderland said...

million different people. i stay AWAY from my mother and supposedly have a home of my own. she still does that hehe. so be prepared for these instructions for the rest of your life.

lekhini yup. you do get those outside but too much oil on em ( uhm bit of a health food nut)

p - cook femme makes em if she comes. else i make some wheat pancake thingummy which i try and insist is roti:D

manuscrypts said...

damn, i missed a loooot of posts.. whats wrong with the damn feed!!! lemme check :(

Cynic in Wonderland said...

manu allo allo

chandni said...

LOL1 I never bothered to learn before the wedding and neither was I atround long enough for mom to insist!!

Mine still go wrong but when one day they turned out right, i gloated on the blog ;)

Arunima said...

this is something I know better than my husband so, even if it is not perfectly round, I don't care.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Mmm yes, I remember this post from the Rediff days. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


BlueMist said...

First time here :-)

You took me back in time ..when every topic used to land up in my marriage track !!

I have forgottten my hardship with rotis ..all i remember now is the round, think, fluffy rotis :D

Australopithecus said...

if your rotis look like continents isnt that really continental food.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

chandni - yus there is a tremendous high in getting it round no?i feel like framing em.

arunima - you can make rotis, he can buy veggies. bah. you are the stepford couple?

alloa jap- been a while

bluemist - you cracked it? hmmm. give pointers, do.

austro - absolutely. thats a brilliant rationale. i will pinch it.

phatichar said...


(errr..that'd be splitting my sides laughing)

you're a natural. I rest my case.

Pinku said...

two things:

a) did she actually find u a guy who was a cook or had a cook?

b) if yes will she also adopt me? and find a similar guy? or even the cook would do since I have found a guy who does cook but for rotis is more hopeless then me.