This may be the strangest topic to write on. Many may not even have given it a thought. Those that have been used to cooking on fire using the gas cylinder probably take it for granted and those who cook using the hot plate that works on electricity probably do it without choice because that’s how the country works or those are just the rules of the building in which they live. The experts of cooking on hot plates may not relate to my sentiments and I totally understand. I am a novice in cooking as I have said in my previous blogs and I have utmost respect for those who cook well irrespective of tools, accessories etc.
I am writing about this, simply because, I am grateful that fire exists and can be used for cooking. Like many others, I hadn’t obsessed about it until 2 years ago; when we moved into an apartment block that did not allow the usage of gas cylinders. So, like it or not, we had to cook using electricity.
Electric Cooking :There were things to be learnt and there were things to be unlearnt.
- Investment in tools: New vessels with flat bottoms had to be bought. You can never cook on electric stoves using round bottom vessels because the heat will only end up at the point of contact between the flat electric plate and the round vessel.
- Patience : is key while cooking with electricity. It’s not as if you can put it on and it hot. It takes time to heat up.
- Organized: is what you need to be if you don’t want to waste precious time, waiting for the plate to heat up. So while something is cooking, you will need to cut and chop and make the next dish ready, to be put on the still hot plate rather than switching it off and having to wait again for it to get heated. This is especially so, in the mornings when you have kids waiting for breakfast, ready to rush out of the door and you have to pack lunch for office, all within limited time.
- No temperature setting: It’s cold until it gets hot and remains at the same temperature until you switch it off. So if your recipe says, let it simmer, reduce the flame, you can ignore it or forget about it. There’s no such thing as a low flame. Just hot or cold!
- Ditch some dishes that especially require temperature control: That’s what we did. Indians love eating “Phulkas”- dough beaten into round breads, cooked on the pan and then over the fire so it’s puffed and served hot. With electric cooking, we stuck to “chapathis” ( which follows the same process as above minus puffing over fire)and rice. Forget about roasting!
- Be ready for a challenge: I am not a great cook. In fact, I call myself a cook out of compulsion, so for me, unlearning and learning the art of cooking was a challenge which I did not appreciate but did not crib as there were other benefits of moving to our new home.
- Tell kids to steer clear of the cooking range. if you’ve just cooked, the plate remains hot, even after you’ve turned it off and there’s no sign saying it’s hot. It’s likely someone who’s unaware probably touches it or puts something over it assuming it’s off which it is; yet it’s hot from previous cooking.
After reading the above listed points, you are probably wondering if I did manage to cook. I did because life is a teacher and to survive, you have to adapt! We did not just survive, we managed to live and party and host dinners- all using the electric stove. And I got used to it, until we moved to our new home last month.
With 2 years of cooking on electricity, it had become a habit and requiring fire to cook was the last thing on my mind while looking for a new home. Anyways, our new home came with a gas cylinder. Was I excited? Not really, because like I said, I had learnt the new art, if not mastered it.
Moving in to the new home, I had to unlearn again and relearn again:
- All existing vessels can be used on fire.
- There’s no need to leave the gas on once your dish is cooked. You can turn it off and put it back on when you are ready with the next dish. It gets heated the moment you turn it on. It’s funny, how amazed and appreciative it made me of cooking on fire. I was in complete awe like a child who has dug out a treasure while building a sand castle on the beach..
- Food cooks so fast, it’s like the 8th wonder! I was thrilled. I could talk about little else and maybe my friends and colleagues found it weird ( I could tell by the look in their eyes and on their faces). You put your dish on the gas, and it’s done. There’s just no waiting time. I even changed my office time and now reach an hour earlier.
- I can make “phulkas” now and my kids love eating hot ‘rotis’ just off the fire.
I am not sure how many of you actually enjoyed reading this blog but I had to write this blog- for me. I read somewhere that a blogger must write for one-self and write in the moment, so I did just that for, as of now, I feel honest and sincere gratitude for the discovery of fire .
With development comes change and with change comes the need to adapt in order to survive and move with everybody else. While I am all for change, I just hope this one thing does not change and fire remains a mode of cooking…at-least during my lifetime. If it does change for some reason, then I have been trained. 🙂
The Eternal Optimist