This is my entry to the kbcpinkooshergill contest
The kitchen was Siddhanth’s favourite place in the house. It was a beehive of activity with mouth-watering aromas wafting through the air. He loved to watch his Amma (Mother) and Ajji (Grandmother) bustle around in the kitchen as they chopped vegetables, ground masalas and dished out a variety of delicious dishes.
“What can I do to help?” enquired the little boy, tugging at his Ajji’s sari pallu.
Ajji laughed and shooed him away.
“Let me help, Amma!” piped Siddhanth, peering up at his mother who was busy chopping potatoes and keeping a watchful eye on a pot of boiling rasam.
“Why don’t you shell these peas, Siddhanth”, said Amma, pushing a plate of tender green peas towards the boy.
“He is a boy! Why does he need to do all this?” remarked Ajji, as she dunked slices of potato into a spiced chickpea batter.
“I want to be a good cook, that’s why!” declared Siddhanth, as he started shelling the peas with concentration.
“Boys don’t need to learn all that! Why do you need to know how to make badam halwa or make sambar? We are looking forward to having another engineer in the house” Ajji said, as she scooped piping hot bajjis out of the oil.
“Who says boys can’t cook, Ajji?” asked Siddhanth innocently.
Ajji had no answer but grumbled good naturedly.
“The world is changing rapidly, Ajji,” remarked Amma wistfully as she set the table for lunch – tangy ginger rasam, steaming white rice, potato bajjis and peas corn salad. “Girls are expected to effortlessly balance work and home, why not the boys? Besides, I think Grandfather was an excellent cook and is the person who taught you the decadent badam halwa you are famous for!”
Ajji murmured in agreement and smiled fondly as she recollected learning to make the golden badam halwa under the tutelage of her husband.
As the years rolled by, Siddhanth’s fondness for cooking grew. He would spend his free time in the kitchen learning the art of making the perfect badam halwa, choosing the right mangoes for pickling and how to make creamy coconut vegetable stew.
Ajji would taste everything Siddhanth made and offer unbiased criticism.
“Ajji, you should be a food critic!” laughed Siddhanth as his grandmother sampled some badam halwa and remarked about the sweet spicy notes of cardamom and richness of the ghee.
As time went by, Siddhanth’s cooking prowess grew and he entered a national-level cooking competition which would put his growing cooking skills to test.
In the grand finale, as all the other contestants dished out chocolate domes, towering ganache cakes and choux pastries, Siddhanth presented his grandmother’s humble badam halwa. The warm, divinely aromatic soft semolina pudding his grandmother had taught him all those years back.
As the judges sampled the golden nutty fudge topped with almond slivers and saffron strands, thousands of miles away, there was an old lady hunched in front of the television screen.
Ajji’s heart swelled with pride and eyes filled with tears as Siddhanth won the competition.
“I always said that boys should learn how to cook”,
declared Ajji, as the family celebrated the win over bowls of badam halwa.