The other day while I was making dal makhani, aloo posto and a chinese sweet and sour vegetable, I started reflecting on the kind of food I keep dishing out to my unsuspecting family. Here was a pukka north Indian dish, with a pukka bengali recipe with a chinese one. The other day I made sambhar, machher jhol and chilli paneer. I think my Bratty Girl is responsible for this. If I make a full Bengali meal she will not like it, whereas the mite eats everything and specially likes fish and aloo posto, he also has a soft corner for cauliflower. The Brat hates all food but stuff she can just about manage to touch her tongue to is bhindi, karela, mushroom, capsicum and paneer (lady's finger, bitter gourd, you know what, you know what and cottage cheese- this is for my supposed foreign readers, though there is no evidence of any yet, I really liked adventure dad but he seems to be out of business now a days). She also likes some special dishes like dal makhani, sambhar, paalak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese, a north Indian dish), kachha mooger dal (a bengali preparation) and mushurir dal (also Bengali). So I have to juggle all this stuff around and make new combinations every day- she will not touch the stuff more than once even if it is one of her favourites. Tears well up in her eyes if I say that she will have to have the same lentil or vegetable as the one she had in the morning! Thus it is impossible for me to also take care that each dish goes with the other, generally our meals have traces of north, east and south India with a liberal sprinkling of China (or what goes for chinese food in India). The family is not complaining and I do hope jumbling up the many cuisines will not do their tummy any harm.
I am a very bumbling and clumsy cook. I am still figuring out the names of the different pulses. I am still remain confused with the toor dal and the urad dal the two staples of South India I have to remind myself that toor is the sambhar dal and urad the vada dal. Any small thing can make me go crazy, like the other day I found some dal packet saying udid dal and I still can't figure out whether it is a corruption of urad or a different species altogether. In case of doubt I do not buy the stuff. I went completely beserk while searching for the dal for dal makhani, in the recipe it says urad dal with skin. I went to the mall and found kaala dal which I thought was the thing, not being sure I followed an elderly lady made sure she was north Indian and asked her what is the daal makhani dal, she confirmed that what I had in my hand is it! Then I saw a recipe called maah ki dal which got me in a tizzy now is the maah ki dal the same as the kaala dal which is the same as the dal makhani dal which is nothing but urad dal with its skin on? Well, does anyone out there have the answer or what? I am saying more comments on my blog dear people!
Yesterday I out did myself, I was making lassuni dal and I was sure that I had asafoetida stashed away somewhere. I had the impression that it was a white powder, I spent the good part of half an hour murmuring 'asafoetida.....asafoetida...' while rummaging through all the kitchen cabinets, getting up on the chair and checking the farthest corner. I found ajinomoto, baking soda and sundry other things that I had stored away and forgotten all about, but there was no asafoetida in sight. Finally I decided I will buy a pack on the way to the mite's school as it was time to get him back I'll stock the other pack when I find it, I thought. While I was getting ready to leave it suddenly came back to me asafoetida is nothing but hing which is a yellowish crystal like substance which I had kept on the kitchen platform itself. Hail to the great bumbler!