THE CHEQUERED KITCHEN

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The gulmohar tree outside my kitchen window seems to be growing parallel to my life. It’s a prime witness to my escapades in the pantry – the triumphs and failures, the sweat and the tears. When I moved into my current home seven years ago and started doing it up, my prime focus was the kitchen. Food is important to me; not just what I set out on the table, but the entire process of putting it together. I’m quite the forager at heart and you would know if you observe how much I love wandering around the marketplace. My daughter is greatly amused by my excitement for fresh, beautiful produce. The sight of blood red tomatoes, bright orange carrots, and fresh leafy greens is something I can’t resist. My insane love of veggies can be traced back to my Grandpa’s backyard vegetable patch. The taste of those eggplants, climbing spinach and ivy gourds came from pure love.

The reason I’m talking about vegetables and kitchens here and the connection it has with my minimalism theme is pretty clear. Simple food equates a simple life. Fresh foods inspire fresh thoughts. When the body is detoxified, so is the mind. We are what we eat. At least, that’s the philosophy of a sattvic or yoga diet.

Glamorous or simple, food is food. In the midst of all the Instagram and Facebook uploads of exotic and sometimes mysterious foods, I’m also happy to find food enthusiasts who promote simple, clean eats. They make you want to eat broccoli and spinach like it was manna from heaven (which it is). They are the ones I look out for. Simple meals are not passé. And fresh food is healing. As an Indian, nothing beats steaming rice topped with aromatic lentils and some veggies on the side for me. Or just-off-the griddle rotis (Indian flatbread) dunked in thick matar-paneer gravy (that’s green peas and cottage cheese). The taste of homemade food is always the best. And it’s good for you.

Recently, my house-help, Chanda taught me how to make jowar rotis (sorghum flatbread). These rotis dipped in a hot curry is a marriage made in heaven. Chanda must be around 60, but looks strong and healthy. Apparently, she hasn’t seen a doctor in years and doesn’t know what stomach gas feels like. Her diet is pretty straightforward and frugal, consisting mainly of whole grains and vegetables. She’s the kind of diet guru I’d like to follow.

For my birthday last month, my mother-in-law made me a traditional Mangalorean dessert. It was her birthday gift to me. I was absolutely stoked. To express my appreciation, I made her a nice curry of some fresh river fish and a side of veggies the next day. It’s wonderful how food became an expression of love and gratitude for us.

So food, to me, is not just about eating. It’s about enjoying the preliminaries and feeling the emotions. It’s about feeding the people I love. That’s why the kitchen is important to me. It’s where the soul of your home resides. Chopping with gusto, churning with passion, seasoning with love…these are great ways to put your focus in the moment and find pleasure in little things. Cooking is about nourishment, healing, creativity and art.  The best thing about this art… you can eat what you create!

© Renica Rego

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4 thoughts on “THE CHEQUERED KITCHEN

  1. Very well written about kitchen , the place the lady spends most of her waking hours and creates food others love to eat . Food the no. 1 need of the man and than only comes sex . I enjoyed reading your blog very much and almost felt I enjoyed the delicious fish u made. My favourite dish. My staple food is salad of many vegetables garnished with garlic ginger lemon gooseberry olive oil vinegar and honey with salt and pepper to yr choice . It’s nourishing detoxifying delicious creative and easily digested . No cooking and made in 25 minutes . Will send u photo in WA .

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  2. After 41 yrs of my existence on this planet… now i can say with full authority that… a woman is complete and beautiful only if she plays the annapurna role with conviction…. one cannot imagine the plight where both the man and woman are so unamused to step in the kitchen….. and just surrect their handicap through a maid .. rather the angel…. and when the Angel is away…. the restaurant holy men are summoned for some ready potions…. no wonder something is gravely missing in that ready meal…. renica we can appreciate the subtle pleasures of kitchen and the delicacies and the well being and ecstacy…. but naaaa… dont know where to bring the enthu…. the zeal…. the anxiety to enjoy the process….

    Meanwhile each inert one orders Suchitra our house help for making the things mobile…..

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  3. Beautiful post. Like you, I enjoy simple meals the best ~ stir fries over rice, fragrant curries, potatoes with veggies, butternut squash, tomatoes, carrots, etc.

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