Kitchen is perhaps the best and safest Chemistry lab
I honestly never took cooking seriously.
Actually, I never had to take cooking seriously. Although, I stayed outside my home for almost half of my life, but there was always some arrangement that allowed me not to learn to cook.
It is only now that I am realizing how crucial skill cooking is.
I really think we, especially, boys/men should take cooking more seriously.
Let's talk about this.
'Necessity is the mother of invention', I am sure you have heard about it.
My situation about learning to cook is exactly that. Only when I realized I have to stay outside the country for a prolonged time and I have to cook my food, I understood the significance of cooking.
I am sure you have grown up seeing your mother or any other woman in the family cook food. In fact, sometimes (and in some families) boys are not even allowed to cook food.
It is understandable that women cook most of the time as traditionally they are thought to be the caretaker of the family and men typically work outside. Although this is not true always.
To be frank, I feel a little guilty that how most men/boys often don't appreciate the art of cooking of Indian women. That includes me as well.
Recently, I read a wonderful book that further made me realize not just the art but also the science of cooking.
I spent almost 6 years in a Chemistry lab but even then I didn't realize (until now) that Kitchen is one of the most fascinating science labs.
I feel bad that I know how to set up a Chemistry reaction and form a new molecule but I am almost clueless about how to prepare an Indian dish.
You see both are almost the same, concept wise, both are a sort of chemical reaction, but I failed to appreciate the science in the latter.
There is a book named 'Masala Lab: The Science of Indian Cooking' by Krish Ashok.
I must say if there is a turning point in my life that made me see cooking in a different light, then this book is that for me.
Why do we Indians cook a lot of dishes in water (curry)?
What's the science behind using so many spices?
What's the reason for frying onion and other spices to make it brown (flavoring)?
There are a whole lot of common science stuff that we daily use in the kitchen but often without realizing it. Specific heat capacity, starch gelatinization, zero-pressure cooking, etc. These and many others you will find in this book.
This book changed the way I perceive cooking. The kitchen is truly a lab where you can experiment with or make the same food in a new flavor (once you learn the basic skills).
Our grandmothers did it but maybe without realizing the science.
Maybe we do not give enough importance to food science. If we take cooking as a mundane daily activity, then it may not be fun, but if we think of it as science and art, then it's a fascinating subject.
I firmly believe now that everyone should learn at least the basics of how to cook food.
You should really read this book. It's a different kind of book that introduces you to the daily science of cooking with a good sense of humor.
I am sure you will appreciate cooking more after reading this one.
One video suggestion
What is the science of chilies (spicy vs hot)?
Hear it from Krish Ashok.
"Cooking is not difficult. Everyone has taste, even if they don't realize it. Even if you're not a great chef, there's nothing to stop you understanding the difference between what tastes good and what doesn't."
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IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai India
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