...is to cook. And I say that with my hand on my heart.
I'm a miserable cook. I can NEVER EVER boil milk without spilling it. When I make rice, it either sticks to the bottom of the pan & gets burnt, or gets wet & sticky. Rotis? I can make them round but they turn out to be partly burnt & partly half-baked.
With Durga Puja going on, the entire city is in a celebratory mood. The smell of kosha mangsho (mutton cooked Bengali style) & luchis (Bengali puris) had been wafting through my windows, seducing my olfactory senses since morning, like a cruel joke. To make things worse, my cook didn't turn up today. Oh, the horror, the horror!!
I figured if I have to cook, I might as well make a feast out of it. I really wanted some nice mutton curry & pulao, but it seemed too much of an effort, and I didn't really have the patience to stand in endless queues to buy mutton (not that I know how to buy mutton, but I was willing to learn), so I settled for the next best thing Bongs love to eat - luchi & alur dom. Well, in case you're wondering, I'm not Bong but if it's Durga Puja and you're in Calcutta, you've got to celebrate it Bong style!
I figured I might as well go the whole hog and decide to make payesh, or kheer as it's more popularly known.
I burnt the grated onion-ginger-garlic paste that forms the base of the alur dom. The potatoes themselves were half-cooked in parts, the luchis were partially burnt, and the kheer? Oh, don't even get me started on the kheer! I burnt it. Charred, to be precise.
I started with the proportion of milk : rice my mom had instructed me to use, but the milk seemed too much for the rice. So, I added some more rice to it, and then some more. As the kheer was cooking, I realized how important it is to follow what mom tells you...the rice was eventually too much for the milk, and since I had added them in three batches, they were different degrees of 'cooked'! And the bottom layer was charred! So much for preparing a feast.
Really, for folks like me who can't cook, the smartest thing to do is to simply hire a cook and leave the feast up to her. Your families will thank you for it, trust me. And in case the cook doesn't turn up, just order in!