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….
Nice blog! I’m not much of a cook but this is inspiring. I moved back to India from the US 10 years ago and really only relished home cooked food for a while…I haven’t enjoyed the culinary journey in Mumbai much. But now there are so many more healthy food options available in stores and a variety of fancy restaurants have cropped up..All the best on your culinary journey and keep up the posts!
Thank you for your kind comments and words of encouragement. We haven’t blogged for a while as keeping up with work and our children has taken up all our time but we will be back soon to share interesting recipes and experiences. Please do watch this spot. Shiv and Anna