Kitchen. Heart of My Home
It never ceases to amaze me even today that you never ever felt lazy a single time when it came to doing things in the kitchen. And of course, you would merrily laugh when I mentioned it. Often, it freaked me out that I felt guilty about wanting to chill around when you’d jump up and embrace a kitchen activity. But I am glad you taught me the value of that. I am surprised to experience pure joy when I am busy in the kitchen, making our traditional podis and powders, chutneys and all those other things that make our daily life easier.
Yesterday I was recounting to Vidur how you would quickly reduce two large bundles of coriander and curry leaves into preserves for the next two weeks. We were cleaning up large quantities of coriander and curry leaves…and well, I am happy to say I did the same. In your words, no point cleaning up and eliminating part of it to the dustbin each time we took it out of the fridge.
Sometimes I think I learned the nuances of cooking through osmosis from you and Granma, Mi. It helped to do all the sidey work – quite like being an apprentice. And of course, watching and learning. I remember how I cooked a whole meal one fine day when I was ten years old – a grand feast of potato fry and onion sambar and rice. All by myself – anxious to finish before you and Gopu Mama returned from school and office respectively. It was a half day, being Saturday and I had meticulously planned this.
After I returned from school, loading up the pressure cooker with potatoes, rice and dal was the work of a few moments. While it cooked, I cut the onions and got the sambar going. I had the seasoning ready for the potato curry. Then twenty minutes later, I was peeling the potatoes, cutting them and adding them to the masala-fied oil in the big kadai. Oh, I remember the feeling of exultation, anticipating your praise, Mama’s delight when you came home to find that lunch was ready.
I had just finished when I heard the gate and I pretended nothing had happened when you came in. Mama arrived a few moments later and the two of you were quickly discussing what to make for lunch. Then you entered the kitchen – and oh, I will never forget the next few minutes. Even today, I cry to think of that day. You both made me feel like I was the best cook in the world. Every mouthful you ate, you appreciated how well I cooked. You encouraged me.
The next Saturday I remember making spinach dal and rasam – and that was a big hit too.
What wonderful memories of growing you with you, Mi. You fill my heart with happiness.
Here’s a partial glimpse of our masala shelf. 😀 Go ahead and laugh at the doll. Yes, I wash her every other day.
I am thinking of repainting the kitchen. Remember how we painted it a warm peach color? Lucky we had enough to cover the kitchen, because we didn’t remember the proportion we mixed to get that particular shade!