By Das Sreedharan

“Sita’s senses became familiar with secrets of spices. She learned how Brahma becomes Brahman, seeker and transmitter of wisdom at the same time. This very thought made her smile,” states a folklore in Sita’s kitchen.

I understand that it’s a humongous job to separate smell from A taste, especially when one talks about the world of spices. While cooking with lots of flavours, a smart cook has the ability to lay out every sensual influence to achieve your chemistry with food.

As a vegetarian, I moved away from meat and fish in my life. But I must admit I was tempted by some smells. Our skyline in the village used to be filled with the irresistible aroma of fried fish during lunchtimes, a somewhat inexplicable smell that always made me feel curious about its taste.

Illustrious cooks have terrific knacks to judge quality and sometimes by just sniffing at the vapours coming out from the food, they could measure its perfection. It’s incredible as to how they apply that skill even in large-scale cooking to enhance and compliment the moods of hungry people.

Let me take you through Sita, the Ramayana story written by Devdutt Pattanaik. During the war, Ravan’s soldiers came back tired and hungry. They had to be fed and nourished. The Smell of cooked meat, fish and vegetables travelled out of Lanka’s busy kitchens and flew across the burning towers amidst riots. Eventually, the aromas surrounded the Ashoka grove where Sita rested. Instantly, she realised the disproportions of spices and uninspiring flavours from the smell. She gave the royal kitchen her suggestions and ways to improve quality of her own recipes.