Shirke and Minok had a lovely date with the strawberries at Megha’s parents’ farm and they were literally in strawberry heaven for the next few days. The taste, the sweetness, the incredible experience made them literally float on air. It was some days later when the sweetness started fading a little that they started thinking of other things. Like what could be the next thing that they could think of eating? What could be the next exotic taste that they could experience?
While at the farm, after they had gorged on strawberries, Megha had taken them around and shown them the various products that were being made with the strawberries – jam, syrup, juice, ice-cream, crush, cake and so on. They were fascinated with the range. Then this tiny idea crept in – why couldn’t they also improvise and come up with the wide range of recipes? They thought about it and then gave it up because of two main reasons – one, it looked as if strawberry recipes had run their course and two – they didn’t want to really think so hard. And obviously, where were they likely to get the strawberries from?
However, the thought of actually stepping into the kitchen and cooking up a storm did appeal to them and they decided to do that at the next available opportunity. That was not far away since they always had some time alone after they got back from school and before Shirke’s parents and Minok’s mother got back. (Minok’s mother had taken up a temporary position on Earth, while she waited for the the all-clear to sound on her native planet, Zeklum).
They decided that they would fix dinner and surprise the adults. Shirke loved being around the kitchen and would spend large amounts of time, helping his parents out when they were fixing meals. He was quite familiar with where things were and although, earlier it had never struck him to start cooking, he had a fairly decent idea on what needed to be done to prepare a meal.
It was always Shirke’s responsibility to harvest the farm for dinner. His usual practice was to get one kind only so that his mother or father could then think of a dish around that one vegetable. But, today, since it was going to be him cooking, he picked up a little of everything. They got home, cleaned up, finished their homework and stepped into the kitchen.
I cannot even begin to describe their feelings – the excitement, the anticipation and the thrill of starting something new. Shirke crowned himself head-chef and made Minok his assistant – which meant that Minok ended up with the menial jobs of chopping and cleaning and sifting and measuring. Anyway, after the prep work was over, Shirke started the actual cooking. He threw in a little bit of this and a little of that. Then he juggled in the various ingredients and a variety of spices. Saute’d and stirred. Cooked and flipped. And Ta-da – the signature dish was ready. Shirke then cooked another less complicated dish as a backup.
Then he started the most complicated job of the culinary journey – the plating and the presentation. He brought out all his artistic talents to the fore and when he was done, the dishes looked like two beautiful paintings – bursting with colour and beauty.
The adults walked into the house to some wonderful aromas – it was Shirke’s mom’s cooking day today and she was thrilled to find something hot on the table. They were mighty impressed with the dishes – it seemed like a shame to have to destroy it and serve it. Well, all I can say about the tastes were that they were different. It was like nothing that any of them had tasted before – their palates exploded with the variety of contrasting spices and flavours. While they were still trying to decide if they liked the taste or not by eating one bite after another, they realised that their plates and the dinner dishes. were empty.
Of course, since Minok was the assistant, he landed up with the unenviable job of cleaning the kitchen after the master-chef was done. Clever Shirke – right? And just like that, Shirke added yet another skill to his ever growing list of talents. This skill was something that would help him a lot in the days to come. I will let you know how as the days go by.