My culinary journey started when I was around 10 or 11. I used to feel real peckish in the afternoon and not wanting to disturb mom (she loved her siesta) asked her for the recipe for my favourite dish at that time – pasta bake with a white sauce and vegetables. The joy of making something edible and enjoying it, got me hooked. I used to prepare omelettes and cheese toasts as a teenager but the real challenge came when I started college in the US at the University of Akron in Ohio during the fall of 1988.
As I had decided to live off campus, I initially shared an apartment with two great guys Gokul and Sriram – the two of them were completing their Masters in Engineering whilst I was starting my undergraduate degree in Business Management. The early days were a massive learning curve with a lot of trial and error as I tried to cook off recipes that mom and my elder sister Magi had lovingly written for me. I moved to Purdue University in January of 1989 and completed my Business degree with a minor in Finance in 1992. After a brief 5 month stint living in the dorms and eating bland cafeteria food I yearned to live off campus again. This is when I met K Venkatesh (KV), a brilliant student from IIT Madras who had joined to complete his Phd. We shared an apartment and he was an enthusiastic cook as well. I can remember making my first idli/dosai batter in a Moulinex blender. KV and I then shared an apartment with John (Srinivas) and Kishore for a couple of years. My experimentation continued and it was during a visit to my old friends Gokul and Sriram that I cooked meat for the first time.
I moved to Louisiana in the summer of 92 to complete my Masters degree in Marketing. Initially I shared an apartment with Manish Budhwar who had joined to complete his undergrad. I took on the mantle of Guru and shared with him some of the recipes that worked for me. It was in my second year when I moved in with Sanjay Varshney that my cooking opportunities grew exponentially. As we rotated cooking turns – Sanjay would offer to prep and clean in exchange for taking his turn to cook. This worked well as I thoroughly enjoyed cooking. One of my fondest memories is making potato bondas and both of us polishing a dozen each!
Upon graduation I moved to work in Bahrain. I got a bit lazy on the cooking front as I had Magi living with her husband Gannu and I used to drop in for lunch everyday! Furthermore, eating out in Bahrain was cheaper than cooking for one. I threw the odd dinner party and marinated meats for barbecues but nothing to write home about.
It was in the UK that my food renaissance took place – initially living on my own till 2005 and then meeting my better half Anna who shares an equal passion for food and all things yummy. I have honed my cooking skills over the last 12 years in the UK , thrown several dinner parties and cooked from the heart for friends and family. Anna and I now are on a new food journey – she loves baking and I am learning to get out my comfort zone of Indian cuisine. More on our journey to follow….