Serving Insights From A Chef’s Platter

Conventionally, cooking has been a woman's forte. However, as times are changing and societies evolving, men are increasingly taking to cooking not just as a means to survive in their bachelorhood but also as a "way to a woman's heart". What is it that has attracted men to cooking? How can they enhance their culinary skills? And a secret that can open your mind to a world of cuisines and expertise! Find out all this and much more in conversation with Khurshed Batliwala (Bawa)<em>, expert chef and founder of a very famous cafe in Bengaluru, India.

Bawa's take on men and cooking

Q1 How do men perceive cooking?

Bawa: It can mean anything to them. A stress buster, a release for their creativity, an expression of love for people they care for, or a business that can be used to earn ridiculous amounts of money. Cooking is only limited by one's imagination.

Q2 Do men enjoy cooking as much as most women do?

Bawa: I think anyone who has experimented with cooking will enjoy it because it is a very beautiful alchemical process. In cooking, you take a few things that taste awful by themselves, and when you mix them together, they taste divine. This experimentation is a major turn on for any intelligent person. It isn't just men who enjoy cooking but even kids and women. Anyone who likes experimenting with new things and have a creative urge in them will love cooking.

Q3 How would you respond to this: "If women cook, it is expected; if men cook, he is a genius"?

Bawa: If men cook, women are extremely happy.
If women cook, men are obviously happy.
Men are easy to please, women aren't (laughs).

Q4 What do you think can attract men to cooking? What attracted you to cooking?

Bawa: If you are a man who is bad at cooking, find a woman who cooks well and let cooking attract you (laughs).

I started cooking because I was the only vegetarian in my house. I felt it wasn't fair for my mother, who was working, to cook two separate meals. So we had a deal: she would keep the veggies chopped and I would cook.

Q5 There are people who are afraid of cooking. What would you suggest for them?

Bawa: When you start driving, there is a phobia about driving. If you want to learn, be prepared to make a fool of yourself. Don't worry about how it will turn out. When it is a mistake, you eat it. When it is not, feed it to others. Don't do it the other way round (laughs).

There is nothing you need to be scared of while cooking. If you screw your dish, you always can buy food from a restaurant or take-away shops.

Q6  How should one deal with the pressure-cooker-like situation in professional kitchens?

Bawa: The best way to deal with it is through meditation. When you meditate, you are relaxed and calm and you can handle difficult situations better than other people who don't meditate. Luckily, our entire crew of Cafe Vishala chefs meditate regularly and that's why I haven't heard of a case like this in our restaurant.

Q7 How can meditation enhance one's cooking experience?

Bawa: Meditation is equal to creativity and the ability to maintain calm in panic and bad situations. And it is relevant not only for cooking but also for life in general.

When you meditate, it sparks creativity in you, and cooking is an extremely creative expression of oneself. When you want to express your love for someone through food, you need to be creative and have a calm mind. Most people cook for those whom they love, and when you are cooking for people you love, you want to do the best. That's what our chefs at Cafe Vishala also do, and that's why our food is so tasty.

Sometimes things may go wrong in the kitchen. At such times, you have to be quick on your feet to fix that. Suppose you are cooking for someone very special and they are expected by 7:30. And at 7 o' clock you realize that you have burnt the rice. Now what?! At that point, if the person is not a meditator, he will panic and a very beautiful meal will be ruined. When you meditate, you become calm, accept that the rice is burnt, and think what you can do to make up for that instead of panicking.