lemon jelly


Toil as Luxury
September 3, 2008, 4:52 pm
Filed under: food | Tags: , , , ,

I know, I know: it’s been forever since I last wrote. But, in my defense, I did offer pre-emptive apologies some time ago, and a lot has come up in the last little while. I was scrambling to get my paper in, of course. It’s a mediocre at best. I premised things beautifully, but everything sort of unravels as you read on. I ran out of time. The summer sun called. The boy got sick. I had a birthday to celebrate. Excuses, excuses, I know.

I just find it hard to dedicate myself to more than a few things at once, so, with so much to do in the past couple of weeks, there was a lot of cereal and soy milk, half-heartedly steamed vegetables, and uninspired legumes going on. It was a shame, especially with all of the gorgeous specimens at the farmers’ market, but I think Jordan and I more than made up for it last night with our Indian feast.

Picture us from about five until eight chopping, dicing, stirring, sighing, spooning, scouring, laughing in my small, sweltering kitchen. From Tahera Rawji’s Simply Indian, we made chapatis (an unyeasted flatbread, tortilla-like but denser), raita (a refreshing yogurt sauce with cucumber, mint, and cilantro), a complex but mild mung bean curry, and the most incredible pakoras ever. If you’ve never had them, pakoras are a north Indian appetizer made from a batter of chickpea flour, spices, and various finely chopped vegetables shaped into balls and then deep-fried. We were well aware of the fact that the goodness of spinach, cauliflower, and potatoes in the batter couldn’t counteract the litre of canola we were frying in, but the pakoras were irresistible right out of the oil, especially with a little mango chutney. What can I say? Cooking is a lot of hard work. You get hungry.

While we laboured, we couldn’t help but complain about how much patience Indian cooking seems to require. You chop and chop and chop. Then everything simmers for inordinate lengths of time. We weren’t even making anything that elaborate, but, even between the two of us, there was still a lot to do. We shuddered to think of the days before instant biryanis. We couldn’t imagine spending this much time in the kitchen on any kind of regular basis. In short, we were pretty happy about gender equality in the 21st century. No one is going to relegate us to tending to pots if that’s not what we want. In fact, kitchen toils of an Indian-feast scale are strictly a luxury these days.

I don’t have a recipe for you today, but don’t worry, there is food in the works.

2008-09-07: see here for the actual pakora recipe. I just got permission from Ms. Rawji to reprint it today.

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