Moments from the Past

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Setting a new routine means unlearning the old one--something easier said than done!!Earlier I used to cook a full Indian meal--5 courses in all--each day for since Sudhir ate only Dinner at home I felt he should get a "proper" full Meal after a sparse Lunch or no Lunch at all on busy days in the Courts!!This conditioned me to cooking 2-3 Vegetable Dishes along with a Dal/Fish/Meat Curry and a Salad or Raita daily.These would always be accompanied by the staple steamed Rice and Indian Breads.The variety of Dishes ensured Left Overs--the Non Vegetarian ones tasted better a day or two later--but the Vegetarian ones needed to be finished---and fast!!Recycling wasn't such a great idea for Sudhir preferred fresh Vegetables daily---so the Left Overs would mainly be finished the next morning at Lunch.
Besides this I would also cook the Vegetables I liked but he did not for Lunch--- for instance I loved making a Vegetable Curry from unripe,Green Jackfruit----something he'd just peck at but I can eat for ever!!!Now this Curry though easy to cook is something that always converts itself into a large quantity--and lasts for about 2-3 days---a portion of it heated up and consumed daily!!Despite these measures there would still come a day each Week when I needed to empty out the 'Fridge---and no matter which day of the week I chose--Sudhir would put my nose out of joint that very same day!!It would begin easily enough--Chhaya Bai and I would remove all the tiny containers,pots and pans and then switch off the 'Fridge.We'd then wipe down the shelves with Soap suds and Water before going through all those various Containers piled haphazardly on the Kitchen Counter.These would then be disbursed----depending on the quantities in each Container--among the four of us--Chhaya Bai,Vanita,Hira Bai and me!!Now this ensured that we'd cook Dinner later--as there would be sufficient Food for the morning--even after Hira Bai left with her share.I'd assemble my Ingredients and begin to cook when unerringly the Doorbell would chime--and there would be my Darling husband standing in the door---grinning from ear to ear at having surprised me by dropping in for Lunch!!Sometimes he'd be alone--other times he'd have his Court Clerk Babu and his Juniors with him--and I was supposed to feed them all Lunch!!
Luckily for me I always cooked in excess--and so never fell flat on my face but after Sudhir came back home I would pick a fight with him over the extra Guests--for just supposing there was not enough to go around what would I do??His answer always was--"We could always order in--this is Mumbai--and we have so many establishments nearby--that hardly would be a problem!!"However while he began warning me in advance about the Guests--his own arrival was another thing altogether!!After a few of these "'Fridge cleaning" experiences he began arriving home with Food from his favourite Restaurants---sufficient for him,me and my ladies to eat!!The only problem with this was that this became a habit even on days I cooked--- for each time he came home unexpectedly he just surmised that there would be no Food ready at home!! Most times however ---especially on Wednesdays and Fridays---I'd cook his favourite Dishes and again that would mean a surfeit of Food at home!!He knew exactly how to wind me round his little finger--with a hang dog look and a disarming grin he'd turn my irritation to contrition--and show his generosity by giving Chhaya Bai and Vanita separately packed Containers which he got home--specifically for their families!!My biggest problem after he died was first to learn to cook smaller quantities and second to teach myself to recycle the Left Overs!!Today I'm becoming an Ace at doing both--getting my eyes used to looking at smaller Portions of food has to an extent solved some of the problem.A dry Vegetable Curry can be transformed into delicious Parathas--mashing it together till no lumps remain and then adding Whole Wheat Flour,a pinch of Salt and a little Water to knead the whole thing to a pliable dough which is then divided into equal sized balls.Each of these balls is then rolled out a little thick and roasted on a hot Griddle with a Ghee on either side and served hot with a bowl of Fresh Curds--home made Yoghurt for a wholesomely satisfying Meal.In the case of recycling Dal which is a bit more watery I cook the Dal till the water dries up sufficiently--leaving behind just enough liquid to bind the Whole Wheat Flour to a pliable dough without using any more Water. Having grown up in North India,I love such Meals and have now begun cooking the simpler and less elaborate Menus which I truly enjoy.Perhaps this is a sign that I'm now thinking of only myself---and a new Pattern is getting set!!
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