No matter what they say. It’s not possible. You need time.
Because, it’s not magic. I mean, the cooking is magical. You can taste and smell and savor and slurp the magic once the dish is done.
But, you cannot make it as if something appears out of thin air when you wave a magic wand.
It’s art, and it’s delicate, and it’s subtle. You need time, and you need patience.
No art is possible without time and patience. And the skills too. Right?
But, of course, in this day and age, you don’t have a whole lot of time. So, there are ways to make things happen quicker.
In old days, a real good cook in India would perhaps take an hour to make a delicious lamb curry, half an hour for a cauliflower or okra or plantain curry and forty-five minutes for a fish or chicken curry. For example, my aunt in the small town of Bardhaman, West Bengal: she was one of the best cooks I’ve ever seen. Or, my other aunt in the southern suburb of Calcutta. Her lamb curry was the best ever.
They would really take their time to cook.
Once I asked my Calcutta aunt: “How come your lamb curry is always so good? What do you put in it?”
Modest and soft-spoken she was, her answer was: “Why, I don’t put anything special in it. I just do it slowly, and it works.”
I would be insistent. “Please tell me…you must’ve put something in it. Something special. Now, tell me, what was it that smells so good?”
Slowly but surely, the secret would be divulged.
“Well, maybe, a few pieces of walnut, and few pieces of cashew…maybe a little bit of honey…and a few sticks of fresh daar chini…”
Daar chini is of course cinnamon.
“Believe me…nothing else…” she would say. And then, after a pause, “well…a few cloves…and a few pods of cardamom…husked…”
Slowly, the whole secret array of ingredients would come out.
Ingredients, that you need to grind and crush and saute, or simmer, or scald, or stir fry…depending on the curry, and the type of curry.
And it all takes time. Nothing happens quickly. Magic may happen quickly…out of a magician’s hat.
But magical cooking takes time. It takes skills. It takes patience.
And it takes a whole lot of love. Just like my two aunts, and their love for cooking Indian and Bengali food. Slow, skillful art — unfolding on their kitchen canvas.
You must love what you’re doing.
Indian curry is a matter of love.
And you cannot create love in a hurry. Not in your kitchen. Not anywhere.
Curry cannot be made in a hurry.
Take your time.