Is cooking, like photography or painting an art? Of course it is. Why? Because just as you cannot copy a painting, having access to a recipe does not necessarily mean that you can rustle up a tasty dish. And a lot like photography, cooking can have its own set of challenges. For example, in photography, the circumstances might not always be in favour (a chef might not have a proper kitchen with required equipment) or the light may be bad (all ingredients might not be available), but if you are good at your art, you will still manage to come out with a good photograph or delicious dish.
I say this, because my friend, who is a core part of the MFT team, is good at both. Both are his passion and given a chance, he will put in everything and give it his best shot. We will come to his photographs later, but here’s a story about his culinary skills. Let me refer to him as Mr. Chef henceforth.
It was 12 noon and one of those days when people did not want to have their regular office lunch. We were deciding what to order, when Mr. Chef took charge. “Give me about an hour and a half, and your lunch will be ready,” he announced. The entire office knew how good he is at cooking and we unanimously agreed. Contributions were collected from everyone and we had a fund to feed us lunch. But it still needed to be cooked.
Right away, he got down to work. The office kitchen is a very small cubby hole, where two people can barely fit and all he had at his disposal was a microwave oven, a sink and a stove. A few were dispatched to buy the necessary ingredients for the meal. They were:
20 chicken leg pieces
Ginger garlic paste
Oregano and chili flakes would be needed for seasoning, but that was already there (collected from office Pizza orders).
Remember, time was short. In fact it was the same day I had to go to the station to see off someone off, so I could not be late. Mr. Chef had already figured out the menu.
This is what it would be:
Chicken ham and egg wraps
Parantha with inverted drumsticks gravy (we will explain this bit later)
Someone had the brilliant idea of cutting into shape some spare cardboard and fix ropes to it to make an apron. Mr. Chef could not afford to have stains on his ironed office shirt.
What ensued was a method in madness. His hands moved fast, as he cracked open the eggs, opened the packs and arranged the bowls, his brow furrowed in concentration and one thing was sure. He was thoroughly enjoying himself!
First, he scrambled the eggs in the microwave and seasoned it with butter chili flakes, pepper and salt.
The chicken ham was thawed in hot water and baked in the microwave.
A couple of us were dispatched to make the wraps with a demonstration and instructions on how to make them. Scrambled eggs, chicken ham, a slice of cheese went into each parantha as we made them and laid them out neatly. The wraps remained to be heated in the microwave before we could eat them.
Meanwhile Mr. Chef had moved on the next dish. The chicken legs had been thawed in hot water and they were marinated in a mix of chili flakes, ginger garlic paste, butter and salt. Once done, it was placed on the microwave grilltray. Each side would take 12-13 minutes to grill.
As the first batch of grilling happened, we started feasting on the wraps. Every bite was an experience, first you could taste the chicken and then a burst of cheese, followed by the taste of light and fluffy baked eggs. The wraps disappeared in a jiffy.
Next up were the grilled chicken legs. The chicken was tender and juicy, the skin nice and crispy and the tangy taste of the marinade made meant we all drooled as we ate.
Even as we were eating, Mr. Chef was back to the kitchen. He had arranged the remaining chicken legs in an inverted manner in a takeaway container, added water and spices to the marinade to make some gravy and then microwaved it till it was ready. (this explains the name of the dish). We attacked it with the paranthas. Mr Chef had meanwhile changed roles. He moved around the table in the conference hall where we were all eating and ensured that all of us got a fair share.
What made the food tastier was that all of us had contributed our bit to it and now as we ate, we all fell content. What better way to bond that to bond over food?
I took the last bite and rushed off even as the others were eating. This was undoubtedly one office lunch that we would never forget in a hurry!