By Malini Aikat
We’re cooking! We had a Masterchef style cook off with judges and the works. A wonderful Saturday that gave us a much needed break from the intensity of our regular work days. Our usual lives are about peering at a screen, living and breathing design. But here was a different kind of application, one that allowed the muscles to relax, got us cracking up. Anyone who enjoys cooking knows how therapeutic it is. Food bonds as does easy teamwork. And test running cocktails doesn’t hurt either. If we’ve been friends all this time the bond got stronger. What fun it was to plan, execute, make a royal mess and get it right. Together. The spirit at the lab was one of high spirits, high energy and great cheer with our dog, Juno, beside herself with excitement – a chicken roasting tantalizingly in the oven might have added to the mania.
Our team – Team 3 – reproduced a récipe of a divine country roast with an elaborate stuffing filled with cranberries among other fancy things. We had decided to have it look exactly as it was in the picture with bulbs of garlic and lemon halves blackened at the edges decorating a golden chicken.
Team Ram had this elegant filet of salmon going looking like it had been art directed by Muji – all minimal and sophisticated. It tasted like a bit of heaven – a slightly sticky coconut rice ( I really liked the coconut bits that added a nice, sweet crunch) and a perfectly grilled, flaky fish to go with a soy dip flavoured with one of the world’s most aromatic ingredients – kaffir lime – ooh la la! A dish worthy of all shorts of dramatic Gallic gestures of appreciation.
Team Anamika, Vini, Rajvi and were the most fun to watch – and steal from (scoops of their to die for mango cheesecake mixture and chocolate chips). They were no amateurs preparing as they did perfectly executed raviolis in a lip smacking bechamel sauce. There was some caramelised onions going on somewhere too if my taste buds remember correctly. Then there were these pop-in-your-mouth chocolate globes dusted with a fine powder of icing sugar and dipped in a warm custard. Just writing about it makes me want to rewind.
Back to us. Our chicken turned out like the picture. Applause. Our cocktail – well, let’s not go there. At one point, after a few tentative sips, Mansi said: “You know, after a while, it kinda grows on you.” Another way of describing alcohol gently coursing through your bloodstream. There was a potato salad – for our veggie friends. A bit of a hasty post script for sure but a pretty decent post script.
Our happy day ended with a talk on food – do we, in this crazy global village where seasons are irrelevant, choose it or does it choose us? A cautionary tale on the importance of choosing local, being aware of the milleniums’ own personal yeti – the carbon footprint - and knowing that the farmer’s plight is for ours to share.
And then there was cheesecake.