These are some interesting cooking stories, which happened and not cooked up :).
When I was in Virakth Ashram, my neighbour Atmananda, who is from Maharashtra, gave me some beaten or parched rice (don’t remember which one it was) and asked me to prepare some upma. Upma is a fastfood variety of south india. I read somewhere recently, in some cooking competition someone won by preparing this item. Generally in south, rava – granules of powdered rice is used. The method of cooking is (oh, everyone wants to start a cooking class, even shihan hussaini – the famous karate man and I hear he is multi-talented., who throws everything everywhere, hope the food he teaches to cook, is not for throwing like that), 1. Fry the rava dry. 2. Pour some oil and in it little lentil (optional tomato, vegetables etc) and 3. Pour water in a vessel, after it boils pour the rava and stir till it gets cooked. Easy. Now, this I tried. After 15 minutes when he came by to see the progress, the parched rice was floating in water, I have not poured the right mount, and the water was excess. Seeing this, he got angry and told me to do abhisheka (holy bath) with it, and in a huff left the place. See, marathis prepare it with onions etc and will be dry, this I learnt later.
The previos experience was in the beginning, and the next episode was when I had just left Virakth Ashram, and have come to Ram Nagar. I with My neighbours Swami Vishnu Das ji and Br. Brahmatma Swaroop ji had gone to Dehradun, there they bought instant idiappam. Idiappam is a south Indian version of Chinese noodles. On the way back they were discussing on how to prepare. They didn’t know to, i volunteered not just because, they did not know. But it is fairly easy. You follow almost the same method in upma, but don’t fry the noodles. And add lemon juice later and mix it properly. So, with this knowhow I was ready in the evening to prepare this lemon-idiappam. My good/bad time, when I put the idiappam noodles in water, in matter of seconds it absorbed all the water and it became like a semi-paste. Ad what followed was a disaster. When the product is cooked (!!??!!) and brought for eating, both my neighbours had a funny expression on their face. There is a expression in tamil “sollavum mudialla mellavum mudialla” – they could neither say norswallow, no pun intended ;).
I said good/bad time because, from the next day I was not allowed inside the kitchen. They said, we liked your job, we may not be experts like you, but we will manage without your help.