When all her classmates discussed about the workplace they wish to join, Kayal dreamt of opening her India's first restaurant to serve all kinds of cuisines at one place, acting as a hub to all food lovers, but with two conditions: to use fresh ingredients based on nutritional values and strictly no adulteration.
Kayal lost her mother at age six. Since then, she started helping her father in doing all the household works. And, when it came to cooking, she showed special interest towards it and over the years started creating her own recipes.
To everyone's surprise, in spite of scoring state rank, she opted for Home Science during her eleventh standard. Here, she learnt about the nutritional values and gained enormous amount of knowledge by watching food shows, documentaries and movies based on food, reading culinary books and magazines and more importantly implementing it every single day.
When she entered college, her father gifted her digital camera and a second hand computer. Using the two resources, she began food blogging and started uploading the pictures captured using her digital camera. In two years she got the youngest food blogger award and also the first woman to receive the connoisseur badge in Tomato*, food app.
It was her final viva today. All her classmates were discussing about the workplace they wish to join, whereas she stood outside the foodlab lost in her own world yet looking a bit anxious.
Kayal is the last person to attend the viva and its ten minutes to 1pm, hence this fear, whispered the other girls.
When your name begins with the alphabet K, this is the problem, Charmi teased her.
Finger on the lips, she signaled winking her eye.
Right from the college watchmen to the teaching staffs, everyone befriends Kayal for the food she prepares, but Moni and Charmi are exceptions! They both adore her for what she is and what she wants to become.
“All the best Kayal”, said Jasmine wickedly.
Bring your dish, one of the external ordered.
She took the chocolate fondue waiting for her all alone, reheated it and placed it in front of the externals. Also, she bought the platter containing fresh strawberries, sliced bananas, soup sticks, puffed rice balls etc.
Using a skewer, they dipped the fresh strawberries into the hot, melting fondue and tasted it.
“It’s delicious”, said the aged external, instantly after tasting it. He licked his fingers forgetting that he is an external and is in the viva hall.
Kayal controlled her smile whereas the strict mam carrying a stern look asked her for what ingredients had she used.
"I have used chocolate, fresh butter, palm sugar and vanilla essence mam", replied Kayal, boldly.
“Why palm sugar?”, she intrigued.
“I have used dark chocolate mam, hence to compensate its taste, I have used palm sugar which is free of chemicals”, she said.
“But butter and chocolate do have chemicals right”, she questioned back.
Kayal spoke to herself to stay calm and then she started saying: “The ingredients I have used in this recipe are all homemade and the fruits I have sliced are produced in my own farm mam”. I want to cook recipes free of chemicals, hence this fondue mam, she added.
“Is your father a farmer?” asked the young external sitting in between the other two externals.
“Yes sir, he cultivates crops and also sells milk, cheese and butter to the neighbouring areas”, she said.
“Good”, he replied back.
So tell me why you chose this dish when so many other recipes existed.
“I wanted to cook something unique yet healthy which is also loved by all age-groups”, she answered.
The old external who finished all the strawberries by now turned to her side and asked, tell me something more about this recipe that we don’t know.
She thought for a while, and started saying:
“Everyone knows that fondue is a Swiss dish but many are unware that fondue is a symbol of Swiss's Unity”. Also, a tradition says that if a man loses his bread in the fondue pot, he buys drinks all around, and if a woman does, she must kiss her neighbours.
The young external nodded after checking it in the Google.
“So what is your favorite dish”, he asked?
It’s my mom's Appam and coconut milk sir, said Kayal hiding her tears in the corner.
He understood her pain and whispered to the other two staffs.
The old man cleared his voice and asked her "tell me you’re most memorable moment that happened while trying out new recipes and why".
Kayal grinned and started narrating:
It happened last week, when I was learning to prepare the fondue, I beated chocolate and kept it in a bowl. As it was a weekend, I also had mixed Shikakai and rice water in another. My Appa has got a severe sweet tooth yet he is a sugar patient too. He came to the kitchen to ask me what I was doing and I explained him. At that time, my landline rang. So I went to pick the call and my dad without knowing that I have kept shikakai, assuming it’s to be the chocolate mix due to the same colour and consistency ate it. Within seconds, he started shouting unable to bear the sour taste and warmness. I made him rinse his mouth with cold water and it took a half an hour to make him feel normal. Since then he started hating sweets and it’s my favourite incident because he didn’t listen to my words but Shikakai taught him the lesson. He teased me even today that I did it purposefully, but I am happy, she said.
The external mam who kept staring at her for so long, smiled at her and wished her wholeheartedly for her future endeavours.
She handed over the tissues from her apron to the old external.
“Why”, he asked, quite amused.
“Chocolate on your white moustache sir”, Kayal replied!
All the three externals laughed and she came out of the food lab searching for her friends.
They came running seeing her carrying the fondue pot and everyone licked it until the last drop.
After bidding goodbye to everyone, they came outside their college campus walking slowly.
“Kayal, what is your plan now”, Charmi asked.
“I am moving to Pondicherry in a while”, she replied having a serious face.
“All these years appa worked very hard to give me the best and now it’s my turn to give him back. That's the reason I choose this field where I can make his business reach the next level. I have got an offer from Tomato to work as their intern in their upcoming hotel projects. I will gain the practical knowledge and move to Pondicherry to establish my own restaurant, she said.
They both didn't say anything back.
When they reached Kayal’s home, Charmi hugged her and said: “I will ask my daddy whether he can design your restaurant” whereas Moni told her, “I will seek permission from my dad to work at your restaurant”.
Kayal replied in a harsh tone, "I don't want you both to help or work for my restaurant".
Charmi looked at Kayal in utter shock.
"But become the cofounders of our restaurant”, Kayal announced hugging them both in her wide arms.
We are women entrepreneurs, shouted the trio together!
Charmi and Moni are friends who become Kayal's family whereas for Kayal, Charmi and Moni are soul sisters born from another mother.