Cooking over the century has found recognition as an art form. Its greatness has been raised to such a high pedestal that we often forget what cooking really is, a survival technique. Had cavemen not discovered fire and the process of roasting meat, the whole human race would have been stuck to eating raw food.
This basic survival technique has evolved over the years, polished by sophisticated cooking pans and ovens. But the carnal idea still lies in feeding a rumbling stomach. Ask any Indian millennial what their survival food is and it won’t be fruit or bread or Greek yoghurt, it will be Maggi. The Nestle instant noodles product introduced to Indians in 1983, now stands synonymous of any instant noodle in the market.
If you ask the same millennial what he or she can cook, the coy reply will be, not much. They involuntarily forget, all those late nights they tore apart Maggi packets in their hostel common kitchen as the inadvertent hunger haunted them. The very millennial who considers Maggi as their survival food, however, does not consider its cooking as a valuable cooking skill. Ask them again how they like their Maggi and there will be no end to the amount of customization they do to the humble two-minute instant noodle.
Cheese topped, turmeric seasoned, boiled vegetables, shredded chicken or scrambled egg, the options keep on bubbling, yet when I walked into my roommate in the kitchen and asked what was cooking, her reply while stirring the Maggi noodles in her beige ceramic sauce pan was, “Just Maggi, nothing extensive”. No matter how downtrodden the act of cooking Maggi may be, she still prefers to dice her capsicums and slice her carrots after a 10 hour shift in a consultancy law firm.
In India, people’s Maggi’s preference could very well be compared to a common the Western question, “How do you like your eggs?”. It is about time Maggi specifications prop up on honest Tindr profiles.
Before journalism school, I had never cooked Maggi in a microwave oven. After two ventures ending in improperly boiled noodles, I discovered the secret, soaking them for 10 minutes prior to pressing the start button on the oven. It was a skill developed and perfected to my taste by adding saved up Domino’s oregano sachets.
Romanticised Instagram food posts and 2 minute food videos on wood-top tables seem to demean the basic cooking skills Indians across all age groups currently possess. An easy recipe does not nullify your cooking skills even if it means boiling eggs to perfection. If you are a connoisseur of your taste buds, then two minutes is all it takes for you to be crowned master chef by your tummy.