Unsuccessful Attempts

… at cooking, that is.  As I floundered my way though culinary undertakings in the past four years that I’d been married, I quickly realized that cooking – which a lot of women find exceptionally easy – didn’t come naturally for me.  I had to study, take down notes, contemplate substitutes, Google English vs Urdu names of certain ingredients (and then check Google images if the names still sounded alien), spend unnecessarily long time in the kitchen, and then get frustrated when the outcome doesn’t look exactly as the one shown in the glossy pages of my cookbook.

The picture above was taken at Caesars Restaurant, where my family had to patiently wait with napkins on their laps as I took pictures of the food.  This one’s called sizzler beef steak – a succulent combination of meat and vegetables.  This picture is totally unrelated to the subject matter of today’s post, but I have this sudden urge to eat beef sizzler which I’m trying to satiate, at least visually, so up here this picture went.

Anyway, so let’s go back to the heart-breaking story of my futile cooking endeavors.  Desi brides, as the tradition goes, usually do not cook anything (or clean, or do laundry) for as long as their wedding henna doesn’t fade off from their hands.  During this period, all a bride is expected to do is eat and look pretty.  And when she finally starts cooking, the first dish should be something sweet – like kheer.  My first was cucumber raita;  I made it as an accompaniment to my mother-in-law’s special mutton biryani.  It almost failed because I forgot to add salt.

There was this one sun-shiny morning when I got up from the wrong side of the bed, and decided to make aloo parathas – for the first time.  I started with a huge smile on my face at eight in the morning, and when I haven’t accomplished anything decent by ten, I started to panic.  Hungry stomachs depended on me.  I would stuff the filling and roll out the dough, then it would just tear up, spilling the mashed potatoes out.  Masood came to my rescue, eventually.  We rolled out a piece of chapati (the flat bread), spread the potato filling on top of it, sandwiched it with another piece of chapati, pressed all the edges carefully, and put it on the tawa to cook.  Do not attempt this method.  Keep this particular recipe in a folder labeled as ‘Highly Classified’ and secure it with at least three different passwords, and retrieve only when you’re certain that you can’t cook those parathas the normal way.

I also vividly remember the evening I decided to cook mirchi ka salan, a famous Hyderabadi dish.  Everything was going smoothly and I was eagerly anticipating Masood’s arrival from the office in an hour.  Except, I did one little mistake:  I didn’t properly roast the ground coconut.  As a result, the coconut started floating over my gorgeous gravy instead of peacefully incorporating into it.  Imagine my horror.  My husband was due to walk into the house in thirty minutes and I didn’t have dinner ready for him.  Immediately, I picked out the mutton pieces from the pot, threw the gravy away, and began to chop onions.  I decided to start all over again!

While I was chopping onions and getting disappointed over my failure, the phone rang.  “What’s for dinner tonight?”  he asked sweetly.  “Mirchi ka salan,” I replied.  “Wow, can’t wait to get home!” he exclaimed.  It was at this point that I broke down.  Tears began flooding my eyes, blurring my vision.  And as I tried hard to remain calm and hide the fact that I was crying, I cut my finger.


“What happened?  Are you alright?”

“It’s nothing, really.”

“Are you crying?  Hey, why are you crying?  Did you hurt yourself?”

“It’s nothing at all.”

I don’t know why, but I can’t just go and tell him outright.  He hates it when I say “nothing” because he knows that it isn’t nothing.  He has to really push me in order for me to say what’s wrong.  This happens a lot of time.  Most of the time, I think.  It annoys him terribly.  But I don’t do it intentionally.  Promise.

“Alright, I cut my finger.  But it’s nothing!”

“Leave whatever you are doing this very instant!”

“No, I can’t.  I am preparing dinner.”

“Go out of the kitchen.  Now!”

“But what about dinner?”

“I’ll bring something home, don’t worry.  Just leave the kitchen and go rest.”

There are several other stories as well, but I have reached a word count of 746 already so I better stop.

My latest unsuccessful attempt at cooking?  Murgh choley or chicken curry with chickpeas.

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41 Responses to Unsuccessful Attempts

  1. Pingback: Unsuccessful Attempts | Tea Break

  2. Mohammad says:

    As they say Baji practice makes a man perfect … I am sure you would be an excellent cook with some more practice …. yeah and i just remembered one more saying that i just remembered Failure is the stepping towards success…. I hope this helps to make you feel better……. 🙂

  3. joveria says:

    I am sure Masood bhai’s patience and your perseverance shall bring its reward… 🙂 your doing great !!

  4. Humaira says:

    That’s the one part of married life I’m looking forward to Inshallah!

    I don’t get to cook a lot because my mum refuses to let me loose in the kitchen especially in front of guests!

  5. Lat k says:

    This is so funny! Also reminds me of the mistakes I’ve done before and even now! 😀 You’ve got a very understanding husband and I’m sure you’ll get to be a very good cook one day.And it doesn’t matter if you don’t.Your thoughts and efforts says it all.

    That sizzler beef steak looks great! Yummy! And I’ve written down a recipe from TV of sweet and sour chicken that I’ve always wanted to do.Wish me luck! 😀

    • nadia says:

      Thank you, Lat! I’m lucky to have an understanding husband, alhumdulillah. He doesn’t complain when it comes to food that I serve.

      Please share the chicken recipe on your blog (accompanied by a picture, of course) 😀

  6. Wana says:

    Dont be disheartened Nadia. Even till now, I still browse thru recipe books, on the net, or even watch cooking shows in Urdu juz to get new ideas.

    But even if they dont turn out too well as we expected, Im sure the hubs wouldnt mind and will simply say, Not Bad 😉

    • nadia says:

      Wana, you are an excellent cook! The pictures you post on Facebook look like they have come out straight from classy restaurants!

      Your comment make me feel better. Thank you 🙂

  7. Mezba says:

    I have been fortunate in that way that both the Wife and I are blessed in the culinary department.

    She cooks well.

    I eat well.


    God bless Shaan masala!

    • nadia says:

      LOL 😀

      A LOT of women would feel lost without Shaan’s masala! I had been so dependent on them until recently, when I decided that it’s high time I started cooking from scratch.

  8. masood says:

    Although I come from a family where the taste of the food is considered to be the highest priority, I love it when you cook anything out of curiosity. Believe me, the taste of the food doesn’t matter at all when your goal is to make me happy. I am proud and thankful to Allah subhanawata’la that He has blessed me with you as my partner. Alhumdulillah!

    Btw, you are doing great wonders in cooking now a days. MashaAllah

  9. Haris Gulzar says:

    The picture you posted is just so mouth watering :-). I agree with Lat K above. What matters is your efforts and intention, it somehow shows how hard you’ve worked even if the result isn’t perfect… Best of luck for your future cooking 🙂

  10. Hajar Alwi says:

    Salams sis Nadia!

    Put as much love into your cooking as you do with your photography. Things will taste great, eventually. I’ll be looking forward to seeing photos of your cooking. 🙂

    • nadia says:

      Walaikum Assalam, sis Hajar!

      I’ve made several yummy foods last week and I’ll post them soon, inshaAllah. And I agree with your tip about putting love into cooking 🙂

  11. Atie says:

    I believe you have pretty much improved your cooking skills since you got married. It’s proven when you posted those delicious result in your blog. Who could cook perfectly in their early years of marriage? I can’t. Even after celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary recently in August, I still made mistakes when I cook. So don’t worry, dear. You are doing fine. Your husband is one lucky guy on earth!

  12. Atie says:

    I wonder, why is my comment not appearing as usual? I’ve just wrote in lengthy that you are doing fine and that no one escaped from bad cooking in the early years of marriage and that I was worse than you in cooking and Masood is a lucky guy on earth. 😉

  13. Atie says:

    just feel like giggling right now…. 😉

  14. um almujahid says:

    assalamu alaykum

    I liked the story u mentioned at the end of the post and the “nothing” as an answer… I often use it too 🙂

    • nadia says:

      Walaikum Assalam, um almujahid!

      I’ve been thinking over why I usually reply ‘nothing’ when there is in fact something. And I think that the reason why I’m probably doing it is because I expect the husband to know what exactly I’m thinking or feeling at the moment without me saying anything at all. It’s cruel, I know. I shall mend my ways soon, inshaAllah 🙂

  15. Fa says:

    I love how your husband asked you to stop doing everything when you were hurt. That was so lovely Masha Allah. May your love stay strong always by the grace of Allah!

  16. Behbood says:

    I guess all men know the universal meaning of “When a woman says Nothing”.

    Jab ladki ‘naa’ kehti hai, kahin na kahin usme ‘haan’ chupa hua hai…

  17. aww, LOL!
    Nadia, this is soo cute and funny! 😀
    I make parathas just the way you described in that Masoosd-came-to-rescue incident! is that wrong? I find the other way just too weird.
    You guys are just so perfectly cute, mashAllah!
    May you always stay happy and smiling, ameen 😀

    • nadia says:

      Smiley, that method is so wrong that it is probably the wrong-gest method there is in paratha-making history! 😀

      Ameen to your dua *hugs* You are the sweetest!

  18. roshnii179 says:

    Such a sweet post this was:) Had me smiling reading through it:) Now you must be an excellent cook:) You take such a good care of eachother, Allah apki joodi ko salamat rakhein. Ameen sum ameen.

  19. Specs says:

    I’m overcome with this sudden urge to hug you 😀

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