I was nine years old when I cooked my first proper meal. I remember it was a spicy mince curry, served with rice and overcooked (read mushy) vegetables. I was proud of myself and not because I had cooked, but because the person who had taught me to cook, loved the meal. My mother.
One of the major reasons my mother and I are so close is because of our love for good food.
My mother has always said that the key to good food is fresh ingredients. She would try to buy fresh vegetables at least twice a week.
My brother and I were trained by her to always make sure that the vegetables were peeled, chopped and ready for her when she came back from work. She always told us that if we didn't do it, supper would take even longer to cook and I honestly didn’t want that. The sooner she was done, the more time we had with her to help us with homework and to watch TV together. But what she didn’t know, was that she had planted a seed- I was getting more interested in food.
It was a Friday when I cooked my first full meal and I wanted to give her a break.
It’s 20 years later and mince curry is still my favourite. I have of course changed things here and there and tried a few interesting variations (I once added squash leaves and mushrooms), but I always go back to that simple dish.
Every time I cook the dish, my mother smiles and tells me she will never forget tasting my food for the first time and actually enjoying it. She sometimes berates me for not having taken my interest in food further (as if we could afford chef school).
I grew fond of the times we spent in the kitchen, where, while she was cooking, she would also be washing the dishes as she hated dishing up in a dirty kitchen. We used to play a game, where we would think of a word and then had to find a song that had that particular word in the first verse.
It is those times we spent in the kitchen that made our bond even stronger and where I learnt so much about the basics of cooking.