Soulful Cooking By Sapna Chaudhary
It is said that no cooking can happen without failures and mistakes. Cooking and cooking failures are like close friends, who meet off and on. Failures and mistakes can happen anytime with anybody. Every time they happen, it’s a learning experience. The secret of making tasty food to a level of perfection is cooking failures and the learning from them.
Failure stories become strong memories which later when recalled and thought over makes you Laugh Out Loud (LOL).
I too have an incident to share, which happened when I was too young to cook and my mother did the cooking, but I still had a good understanding of food from its taste and smell. Thinking of this incident always makes my brother and me have a hearty laugh even to this day.
My father was in a transferable job. So, we were always on the move every 4 to 5 years to a different state in India. For my parents the whole process of moving used to be cumbersome but it didn't bother me and my brother much, for us it was an opportunity to try out new food of that state.
Staying in different states we have learnt to respect the variety of food that differs in taste and flavours and the methods by which they are made. It is only because of this, my love for cooking and eating varied food is growing year after year. The incident happened while we moved from Chennai to Nagpur
My mother herself an avid home had asked one of our neighbours how to make the Maharashtrian kadhi. So, one fine day she had announced, she will be making kadhi the Maharashtrian way. My brother and I jumped in excitement as any normal kid of that age would do when anything exiting happened especially when it had to do with food. So, mummy arranged for all the ingredients that she needed and started making the Kadhi.
The wait began. Fifteen minutes passed since the preparations had begun. Suddenly we heard a sound, like a mini-explosion. I asked mummy “Is everything all right mummy”, she replied, “Yes”. Bhaiya and I who were incidentally watching a T.V show on crackers started giggling and talking in low voices, saying to each other that we have a crackers show in our home, a sort of a pre-Diwali celebration, we both couldn't stop laughing and giggling , at the same time being scared too. Another hour passed and Mummy called out “dinner will be served in two minutes, so come to the dining table. All three of us (by now my father had also come from the office) sat down to enjoy the food, I had told my father about the explosion already.
After a long wait, mummy started pouring the Kadhi into our bowls.Bhaiya was the first one to put a spoon of kadhi in his mouth, he immediately pulled a face. As soon as the spoon of kadhi reached my mouth I too felt the same discomfort. Both our faces looked the same. Seeing this mummy yelled “I have spent hours in the kitchen making this Kadhi and this is how you show your appreciation. I am disappointed”. Saying this she walked to the kitchen.
Bhaiya and I looked at each other and somehow gulped the kadhi. While our mother was in the kitchen, we quickly requested our father, who was silently eating, to please help us. He gave us a quick glance and said: “finish it, see I am also eating”. We all were in a state where nothing much could be done. Neither Papa nor mummy was ready to understand how we were feeling.
The next day mummy decided to find out the reason for this massive failure. She went to the same neighbour again and described everything. The neighbour explained to her, normally besan is made from channa dal but probably the one that you had bought was made of white peas.
Shop keepers use white peas as a cheaper substitute to make besan instead of channa dal. She also told my mother how it can be found out with what the besan is made.
1) Always check the texture of the besan, if it is like wheat flour and yellow in colour then it is the perfect channa dal besan.
2) And if the besan is too powdery, more like Maida (refined flour) and doesn't have a colour or is pale, then it is made of white peas.
3) Always try to buy besan of a known brand and if ever you are buying it in loose then, always check the texture and colour.
4) The best option would be to, have the channa dal ground in the local flour mill.
After understanding what went wrong with the kadhi, my mother made the kadhi again and we relished eating it.
Recipe for the Maharashtrian Kadhi
Serves: 2 to 3
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Difficulty level: Easy to medium
To be crushed(coarsely)
• 5 to 6 garlic cloves
• 2-inch ginger
• 2 to 3 green chillies
For the curd mixture
• 2 cups sour curd
• 2 tablespoons besan
• 4 cups of water
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• salt to taste
• 1/4 tsp Hing
• 2 sliced onions
• 2 green chillies finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves (finely chopped)
• salt to taste
• 2 tsp mustard seeds
• 1 whole red chilly
• 10 – 12 curry leaves
• 1/4 tsp Hing
1)Crush the garlic pods, ginger and the chillies in a mortar and pester and keep it aside
2)In a bowl, take the curd, to this add the water and besan. Mix well with the help of a whisker.
3) The consistency of the liquid mix should be like that of buttermilk.
4) To this add the crushed garlic, ginger and chillies, turmeric, salt and hing. Mix this well.
5)Now pour this mix in a cooking pot on a medium flame.
6)While this mixture is boiling, prepare the pakodas.
7)Keep mixing the curd mixture off and on, till it has become little thick.
8)Now before turning off the flame, add the tempering to this mixture and mix well again for another 5 mins. The kadhi is ready now.
9) While serving the kadhi add the pakodas to it.
Tips: 1) This Kadhi can be eaten as an appetizer (without the pakodas) and along with steamed rice when the pakodas are added to it. 2)The consistency of the Kadhi should not be too thick if it gets thick add some more water and boil it for some more time.
(The author is a guest contributor with TNA and an out and out foodie, who more than eating, loves to serve people, good, healthy food.)