Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jihva for Love - (1)

I love cooking and I have been collecting recipes from my childhood. When Jihva:Love was announced, I was wondering where should I start. After all, this entire blog is a tribute to all the people who inspired and keep inspiring me to cook. Starting from my grandmothers, mom, aunts, friends' moms, neighbors, and later, after marriage, grandmom-in-law, mom-in-law, sis-in-law, aunts-in-law, cousins-in-law.......Numerous people have influenced me and shared their recipes. I am thankful to all of them. & I keep featuring all those recipes on the blog.

But for Jihva:Love, I have chosen two loving people in my life, without their love, support, & nurture, I would have been nothing. Well, I am still nothing to the whole world, but for them, I am their world (I am saying so, because they keep telling me so since my childhood!) I am sure they said the same to my brothers and of course with all their grandkids, I do think, our share has reduced a little!!:-) I am talking about my mom & dad.

My dad is not a chef. I don't think he is even fond of cooking. He would rather read a book or a newspaper. but there was time when he actually used to cook for us. My mom was a working mom. Being a working mom from Mumbai, life used to be hectic and unpredictable. Sometimes, there used to be "Trains bandh", "Heavy rains", "Bus strike" , "Mumbai Bandh", "Raasta Roko"....and many more natural and manmade calamities. and such times, mom used to reach home late. Dad's office was in the opposite direction of the heavy traffic area, so he generally managed to reach home on time. If mom hadn't reach home by a certain time, it used to be dad's turn to be the chef du jour. Pressure cooker used to be his best friend. He (always!) used to make two of his signature dishes. Rice/daal/potatoes in the three containers of cooker or his "vegetable pullao". My brothers and I used to be happy if dad cooked the first option. because by the time, everything used to get cooked, mom would come, and would temper the daal and potatoes and we used to have a yummy dinner ready as dad would chop some salad. but the second one "vegetable pullao" used to be disastrous. Dad would put all the rice, daal, and any available vegetable he could find in the fridge in the pressure cooker. He used to add the turmeric powder, salt and some masala, and exactly double amount of water. That was still OK. The disastrous part was the whistles. For some reason, he always felt that you need at least 15 -20 whistles to get the pullao cooked. We kids used to nudge dad that it 's ready.

"How do you know? Let it cook some more. I think it won't be perfect, otherwise! Remember last time, what a disaster it was?"

"No dad, only 2-3 whistles are enough!"

...Oh well, I have eaten that mushy porridge many times. We didn't grumble. but only problem I had was to call that mush "vegetable pullao"!!:-)We used to keep giggling at the dinner table when Dad used to say,

"Hmmm....wonder what went wrong this time?"

...and I think probably in his mind he would decide to add one more whistle for next time. But we used to devour that meal, as by then we used to be ravenous. It was simple life. Mom and dad made sure that we ate good, healthy and nutritious - homecooked food.

Oh, one more disastrous thing which was dad's signature dish was plain yogurt. Like most of the Indian homes, mom used to make yogurt at home. If mom had gone to visit grandma or her sisters on the weekend morning, dad would have this urge to make yogurt for all of us. So by the time mom returned in the evening, there would be enough yogurt for everyone. Noble plan!! :-) I am pretty darn sure, there must be enough yogurt for all of us. because if mom went anywhere, she made sure that everything was ready for us. but in spite of that dad had to make that yogurt for the evening. So he would take milk, add some yogurt, mix it and put the whole thing in the freezer to "set" the yogurt.

"Daddy, mom doesn't do it that way. She sets it outside and then she puts in the fridge and not in the freezer."

"Really? but then how does it get set?"

Well, we didn't know about those friendly bacteria probably that time. Another frozen disaster for dinner time!

Well, if he reads it today, he will ask me to write about what he indeed makes good. & yes. there is one thing he does make the best and that's his limboo sarbat (or lemonade!)

Though I always laughed eating that mushy khichdi or pullao or whatever(!), I knew even then, that my dad did his best to provide homecooked, healthy, nutritious meal to his family. It was very easy to order some outside food. We did go out to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and other happy occasions of life. but mom & dad fervently believed the importance of the homecooked daily meals. Dad is not exactly fond of cooking, but it was also his way of helping out mom. He helped mom to the best of his talents & knowledge. Daddy, You are my hero!

I love you very much & I miss you. Hope to see you soon. :-)

So here it goes -

Dad's Limboo Sarbat

2 lemon, halved, juice extracted

1 tbsp sugar (More or less depending on taste)

water as needed

A pinch of salt
A generous pinch of cardamom powder


1. Mix all the ingredients.

2. Refrigerate. Serve chilled.

Note -

1. Adding cardamom powder in limbu sarbat makes limbu sarbat a signature recipe of my dad ( or aaji - my paternal grandmother). But you can also add surti jeeralu or chaat masala to get a different but delicious taste.

To be contd...


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