I believe there are fewer things in life as therapeutic as cooking. It relaxes you, fills you with a sense of purpose and then bundles you in sheer happiness when the dish is finally ready.
When I say cooking, I don’t mean stirring up Michelin-star dishes or Googling countless recipes till you find what you want to make.
You may well be sitting in a small apartment in Delhi in your first year of college with just a rice cooker, some daal, rice and little to no idea how to make food. It could be your weekend instant noodles you cook in an electric water kettle during those long hours of binge-watching a series when all your friends are out partying. It could be the first time you cooked your mother a meal and she ate it quietly, giving you the best compliment ever. Or it could be the first time you baked a cake so perfectly, all you did for the next hour was marvel at your unfathomed success.
Cooking is never a task for me. On days when I am in shambles with a just sliver of hope to help me stay afloat, my oven, frying pan, ladle, my colourful ceramic dishes and the cupboard full of ingredients come to my rescue. They are mercenaries paid by the food gods to rescue my sunken soul from the pits of depression and cast it into the waters of serenity and reassurance.
- 200 grams or roughly a cup of plain flour
- 150 grams of caster sugar (even a superfine regular sugar will do)
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 large egg
- 3 large bananas, make sure they are very ripe or thereabouts
- 100 grams of chopped walnuts
- 100 grams of salted butter, melted and then left to thicken to a semi-solid consistency
- A quarter cup of milk
- Oil to grease the loaf tin
- Icing sugar for finishing
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius and grease the loaf tin with some oil. If you are using a silicone loaf mould, skip the greasing.
Mash the bananas with a fork or your hands and set aside. Chopped the walnuts into the size of half a Tic-Tac.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and then set it over some cold water such that the butter refreezes to a very soft solid consistency. Shift it to a large mixing bowl.
Add the caster sugar and a beaten egg to the bowl. Whisk with an electric beater on slow or by hand till the three combine together. Be careful to mix slowly, else the egg may split.
In a separate bowl, sieve in the flour and baking powder. Add them to the wet butter-egg-sugar mix. At first, it may start to resemble a gooey dough, but that’s okay.
Now add the bananas and the walnuts, followed by the milk. The mixture will start to loosen and resemble a thick cake batter. Add some more milk if required.
Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin/mould and bake for 50-55 minutes at 190 degrees, till an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the mould and let the loaf cool.
Dust the loaf with some icing sugar before cutting into large slices and serving with some hot tea.
P.S. I would love to hear all your food stories, especially how cooking helps you relax and focus on things ahead. It may even be a simple story of how you cooked your worries into a curry and it made you even more upset when you didn’t get it right. For me, washing dishes is another great way to think stuff over and concentrate. I get lost among those bubbles into a world of my own, far from the chatter and buzz around me.
Do let me know if that happens to you as well. Happy cooking! (and dishwashing!)