Dedicated to the Younger South Asian

June 13, 2007

Travel and blogging don’t go well together, even with the plethora of connectivity options available today. I have a wifi’d laptop but it needs to be on the kitchen table where I can test things and write about them. Anyway, that is the way I work, I cannot write about food in a library or bookstore hot spot. Thankfully its getting sorted out now, soon I shall have my stove, dishes, laptop all in the same room. But even before everything is in place, one must eat, and one must cook and here is what I have been thinking about since last I wrote here.

For all of you Chhota Subcontinental Americans suddenly thrown far afield from your loving parents, out in the workforce, commuting and craving home cooked Indian food, that scrumptious dal and rice, that heavenly mish mash of  vegetables, and not finding it in the local Indian eatery, let me tell you my kids are in the same situation. After many a delectable chevre with roasted peppers on crackers, Cobb Salads, pesto infused pastas, your mouth craves what it knew growing up. What to do? You cannot tell a tawa from a kadhai, so how can you ever aspire to cook Indian food?

Face it. You cannot cook like your mother. No one can. It took her years and years in the kitchen, and total and undiluted dedication and devotion to her family (aka her raison d’etre). What remained unsaid was that her cooking emanated from the conscious and subconscious desire to retain India in at least one part of her American home, and it was the vital part. But you have other fish to fry: there’s that investment seminar to attend, that IPO coming up, those endless day and night rounds of your Surgical Residency that you were so lucky to get, that Intellectual Property Rights case to plead, that iconoclastic paper on War and Boredom to publish, that mind bending lecture on Genital Mutilation you are about to deliver, that IT breakthrough you have been sitting on, incubating with all your energy and creative might, not to mention oodles of venture capitalist money. And your mothers watch from the side, proud, and content that all the good Indian food they fed you did not go to waste. They, and you, would not have it any other way.

All that is fine, but what about the parathas you used to have on weekends or the malai kulfi Ma produced at the drop of a hat?  Or those tables groaning with chicken pullao, goat’s meat, dal, Raita, halwa at the dinner parties your parents held, every day it seemed, twice a day when you had your finals? Even reading this is making your mouth water. I come as the bearer of very good news. You can do it. (Incidentally bearer, in the days of the Raj was a server, a bearer of trays, or files wrapped in red tape (whence the word), and so on.) The fact is that your Mom’s cooking was a step away from her Mom’s cooking and that is how the cookie crumbles. You will make your own adjustments, and come up with your own improvisations and try to make your cookery taste as close to what you remember it used to taste like when you thought food miraculously appeared on the table.

Meanwhile, how about this? A stress buster that is, aromatically speaking, a bit of heaven as you knew it in your parents home. One fine weekend, chop up some onions, garlic and ginger, freeze separately in zipped plastic bags, and you are halfway to making some delightful Indian concoction, whenever you feel like it and have the time.

Hopefully the cable guy should have come and gone by this weekend.

Until the next blog…

2 Responses to “Dedicated to the Younger South Asian”

  1. Ah, somebody that spells pullao the same as me…. I was beginning to doubt myself 🙂

  2. skoul Says:

    Thank you Gourmet Gorman for bringing me back to my blog which I have neglected for so long, mainly due to travel and suchlike .

    There are almost as many ways to spell pullao as there are to cook it!

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