‘Aaahhh! It burns! My eyes burn and my face burns and everything burns! Make it stop!’ I shrieked soon after the box of chili powder flew out of my hands and fell to the floor. I can explain.
I was excited about Ramadan this year. I thought I could try cooking this time. Nothing big, just some fried rice. In fact, I’m making some of it right now. Anyway, after I’d made the decision, I went to the market one evening and bought all the items I needed. And I’m sure it’s not a surprise at this point but the list included red chili powder. Unfortunately.
The first day of Ramadan, after breaking my fast, I set everything up and got ready to fry the rice. For one plate of rice, I put the required amount of all the items on the list or so I thought. Unaware of what the little devil could do when not added in a proportionate amount to plain rice; I put a teaspoonful of chili powder. For those who are well acquainted with cooking or are simply knowledgeable of the fact that adding a whole teaspoonful of chili powder to just a single plate of rice can only mean lunacy, I would like to defend myself saying that this was the first time I was anywhere near a stove or chili powder for that matter. Anyway, clueless of what I’d done, I continued frying the rice and once it was done, I took a bite of it and Oh my God! It was like I’d put fire to my own tongue! After gulping down what felt like a gallon of water, did I feel any better. So to effectively manage the disaster, I added more plain rice to it but it wasn’t enough. I kept adding rice to the vessel till the spice was just bearable. But now spicy wasn’t the only problem at hand. It was the large amount of that spicy rice I had to finish! So I decided to embark on a journey through my hostel where I’d make people try the rice I’d made for the first time without letting it slip that I knew exactly how spicy it was and somehow try to finish it up. I’d deal with the curses they’d give me, when stuck in the washroom for hours, later. And to my immense pleasure and surprise I actually did manage to accomplish such an ungodly mission. Here, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank and apologize to all those who forcefully pushed the rice down their throats to not hurt my feelings.
Anyway, my determination unscathed, I was standing at the stove yet again the next day but this time careful enough to have a friend, who knew how to cook, stand right beside me. It so happened that, because of my failed experiment the last time, I ended making her fry the rice instead. She asked me to open the box of chili powder and just when I thought that this was the one way I could help her out, the box went flying out of my hand spraying the chili powder all over the walls and floor. Let’s not forget that I too was a victim. The chili powder was all over my face and it burned. Now that I think about it, it was probably those curses working. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it felt as if the chili powder believed that now that it had escaped from captivity, it might as well tour the place and had literally spread to every corner of the room. It took us hours to clean the mess.
And a week from those incidents, after practicing every day, my fried rice is now famous in the hostel and I have been called to participate in a cooking show on a local channel or so I wish was the happy ending of my article.
Truth is, all I learnt from these experiences is that a) Cooking is not exactly what I’d pen down as my forte and b) Red chili powder is out to get me.
As I conclude here, I believe the rice I’d kept to fry is also done. It smells…different. Hang on; is that the smell of something burning??Oh Shit!
About the Author: Rumana Khan, a 2nd year MBBS student at KMC, Mangalore.
Editor: Ankita Singh