I HAD NEVER COOKED IN MY LIFE!
Katie R. Irani
Baba called Manu and me in Jubbulpur and said, "From tomorrow, you two will cook for everyone here!"
That meant 35 people! I was thinking to myself, "I have never cooked in my life, what am I going to do?" Naja had previously been Baba's cook, but as she was ill, Baba had ordered her to rest from cooking during the Blue Bus tours. So I started cooking.
Fortunately, I often shared a room with Naja and she would teach me things, such as how much rice to use and how much water, and so on. Also I had to learn how to cook on a wood fire; often the wood would be damp and the dried cow dung cakes (used as quick fuel) would also be damp, and it would be hard to start a fire. If there was too much smoke, the food would smell like smoke, so I couldn't start cooking until there was a nice, big, red-hot flame. There were a lot of such details that I had to learn.
On my first day of cooking I put too much water in the rice and it turned out like pudding. The second day it was raw because I hadn't put in enough water. The third day I was determined to have it just right, but even then it did not taste good. To top it off, my dal would be soupy. I just didn't know how to cook!
The people began to complain to Baba about my cooking, and He called me to Him and said, "Katie, everyone is complaining, can't you cook better?"
I said, "Baba, I'm trying my best," and really I was.
Eventually, with Naja's help and with practice, my cooking really did improve. So, when Baba put me in the kitchen He helped me, and now you get this cookbook as a result!
COOKING WITH KATIE, p. 11
2001 © Katie R. Irani