Cooking Disasters

Few months into blogging, I started writing a post about cooking experiments gone south. At that point, I had at least two experiments to write about. Soon after I started drafting that post, I became an inactive blogger and completely forgot about it. Last month when Malar of Kitchen Tantra asked us to share our kitchen mishaps with her, thats when I remembered this post. That is when I decided to complete this post and if I don’t do it now, I think I will never finish it.

I am not an expert cook but I can confidently say I cook decent and edible food. No cook is perfect and even professional chefs have their share of disasters and mishaps in the kitchen, and I am no exception. When I first came to US after marriage, I had many burnt pots and pan and I still do have some, once in a while. The last time I burnt my pot was 3-4 weeks ago. I was boiling chopped bottle gourd to freeze it for later cooking. I put the pot on medium high flame and went back to my desktop to work on something. I completely forgot about it. Since I was just boiling the vegetable, I didn’t switch on the vent either.  At least the vent noise would have reminded me of the pot on the stove!  Half an hour later, I smelt something burning and thats when I realized I had a pot of vegetables boiling on the stove. The bottle gourd pieces at the bottom of the pot were charred black and stuck to the pan. I soaked the pan all night and scrubbed it hard to clean the burnt pan. This is how it looks after 4-5 washes… 🙁

You can imagine how burnt this pot was when this disaster happened 🙁 This pot requires one more scrubbing with comet!

I have one 1 quart pot which I use extensively to warm dals and shorvas, and boil pigeon peas and lilva beans. This poor thing has the worst fate of all the pots and pans in my kitchen. Since this is the smallest pot, I use it very often to boil and reheat food. Obviously, the quantity I cook in this pot is small and my cooking burners are too big for this pot. You can image the state of this poor little guy! It always has burnt marks all around and in it.  I once used this pot to deep fry mirchi bhajji and fortunately, there was no fire in the kitchen!

Coming to the food disasters, I have a few pictures to share. This past year, since I wasn’t an active blogger, I have not noted down any disasters that I had in the kitchen. Here are a few pictures that look terrific  and tasted terrible.

I tried coconut~kobbari karijalu back in Jun or July of 2008, for AFAM: Coconut. I spent more than an hour preparing these karijalu. I hand wove the karijalu, which was time-consuming. I took step by step pictures as I made them and they looked perfect until I tasted them.

I should say those were rocks, not karijalu; they were hard, brittle and difficult to bite. After that, I never again attempted making karijalu. Both U and I are not very fond of traditional Indian snacks, and did not even bother to figure out why and what went wrong. I was not going to make them anyway. So why bother.

Then there is this Pongal and Pachi Pulusu.  I made this 8-9 months ago, according to the date stamp in the photo.  Pongal is prepared by cooking rice and mong dal together in some ghee/clarified butter along with some spices.  Pachi pulusu is raw tamarind juice tempered with spices and red chilies.  White rice, dal and pachi pulusu is an awesome combination.  Since pongal is made with  rice and dal, it complements pachi pulusu.  As I made this a long time ago, I don’t remember what went wrong with this preparation.  I either made pongal very spicy and added too much ghee , OR made pachi pulusu very sour or very sweet, OR both pongal and pulusu turned out bad.  Obviously it was not up to the par to put it on the blog and I don’t even have a draft for this recipe.

Few weeks ago, I made mushroom biryani for the first time. I love mushrooms and love biryani as well! So, how could I go wrong with mushroom biryani? One friday afternoon, I experimented with it. As soon as made it, I took pictures and sat down to eat. I was very hungry and it was almost 2 pm and it tasted ok. I had some left over and put it in the fridge. Next day, I asked my cousin over for lunch, who is a vegetarian on Saturdays, and I didn’t bother to check on the food as I had this biryani. I re-heated the food and gave it to her. Rest of us had chicken biryani. Towards the end of my meal, I tasted some mushroom biryani and you would not believe me, rice was hard and dry. Poor thing, my cousin didn’t say a word and ate it. I was very embarrassed. Looking at the picture, you would say I am lying or I have gourmet taste buds. But believe me, I have a witness to vouch for me here! I am not giving up on this biryani yet. I am gonna try it again and share the recipe with you all very soon.

Then there is this dessert I tried out from a very popular blog.  I have a very bad habit of not sticking to the recipe.  I think I am an expert cook and tweak the recipes a little bit here and there.  This time, I tweaked it a little too much and the result was awful.  The recipe called for gelatin sheets and I substituted it with gelatin powder.  I think I used too much gelatin and the dessert was very firm.  I also messed up the syrup and it tasted bad.

This Thanksgiving, I made Chocolate Mousse.  This time I didn’t tweak the recipe at all and followed it exactly as it was given.  The only change I made was freezing mousse, when the recipe called for refrigeration for few hours.  I did not have few hour on hand, instead froze it for about an hour.  The result was a disaster.  Mousse was hard, more like hard chocolate and no texture of a mousse what so ever.  Surprisingly, U finished his bowl of mousse with ease where as I struggled to finish it.  Don’t ask me about my niece and nephew!  It was a torture for them.  They worked on it for almost an hour and eventually gave up on it.

Oh, I almost forgot the worst food that I cooked in recent times, broccoli rabe. This was 3 months ago when U’s aunt visited us. This stir fry went straight from the cooking range to garbage can. The taste was awful; pungent, bitter and a weird smell. At least my other disasters that I mentioned here were edible;  but this one takes the prize for the worst food I ever cooked in recent times. I don’t even want to attempt cooking this vegetable again!

I think I was successful in recollecting quite a few disasters.  When I resumed drafting this post, I could hardly think of 3 incidents and managed to come up with  seven.  I enjoyed doing this post and I think I should do this more often, perhaps once a year? Every december, along with “Best of”, I ought to do “Worst of” as well.  That will  be fun.

The moral of this post for novice and newbie cooks is, don’t be intimidate by the art of cooking.  Everyone has gone thru this face and you are no exception.  Get into your kitchen and whip up a concoction and who knows, that might be your most cherished recipe.

2 thoughts on “Cooking Disasters

  1. Usha,

    Thats indeed a great right-up and very honest…

    Thanks for the entry, dear…I really appreciate it.

    Sure we all do have several mishaps…how often do we share. Its always good to learn from our own mistakes..

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