Day 6 – Opening up my table and my mind

6 Jan

Getting back to cooking after more than a month of being away from your kitchen is hard. I felt overwhelmed in the kitchen yesterday as I racked my brains to figure out what to make for our dinner.My one goal was to not go out and buy groceries that day. So I had to use what I had. I opened my freezer and found cluster beans (guvar). I periodically order frozen desi veggies from the Indian store as we are not close to one to frequently get fresh ones. The only two preparations of guvar I have grown up with is a kootu (very tam brahm preparation with dal and some tamarind) and parappu usli (another tam brahm one which is like a steamed dal and veg sautee). Kottu I ruled out as the husbadoo is not a huge fan. Parappu usli also I ruled out as it would involve making mor khuzambhu ( tamilian kadhi) on the side and white rice, both of which I did not want to make. So I needed a recipe for cluster beans which we could have with rotis.

Quick googling led me to a Gujarati recipe for cluster beans. On a whim, I decided to also make a Surati daal . Both of these I have never cooked before. Actually I have never really made many Gujarati dishes before. You see, when I got married, I had vaguely decided in my head that our cuisine at home would not predominantly be either Tamilian or Gujarati. It would be our own unique blend of things we liked to eat. As we ate non-desi food most of the week, the few days we cooked desi food, it had always been kind of North Indianish – definitely not Tamilian and not Gujarati either. So all my dals used ginger garlic, onions. So did most of my subjis. I did  the regular red gravy and then some white gravies for a change. My dry subjis, definitely had garam masala.

Over the years, I gravitated towards some Tam Brahm recipes I had grown up with and liked. The husbadoo loves above mentioned parappu usli, he loves a good sambhar and these things occasionally found their way into our rotation. Gujarati recipes were something I never thought of adopting and the husbadoo never really requested them or even mentioned he liked them. When I was pregnant , we had a Gujarati lady come in and cook for us a few times a week. I slowly developed a taste for specific things like subjis with a slight sweetness from jaggery, a good gujarati daal. I even found that I preferred the slightly sweet Gujarati Kadhi to its Punjabi brother that I always made. The husbadoo relished this food. After all, who doesn’t connect to the food they grew up with for almost 21 years? And the seed was sown. Yet, I hesitated in taking this up and trying to cook it. A part of me wondered if I would lose myself or my Tamilness to some extent, if I took this up. If my folks saw me adding jaggery to vegetables, wouldn’t it be considered blasphemous?  Would they worry that they had lost their daughter once and for all to the Gujarati cause? Would adopting this cuisine be akin to changing my name to my married one? Of course, I over thought this to such an extent. All in my effort to maintain my identity, atleast in my head. Finally I came to the conclusion, that it was simply as good as me trying other regional and international recipes. And if it made my husband happy, what was so wrong with it?

That said, it has still taken me over 2 years from the point of deciding to try some of these Gujarati recipes to actually doing so.Sheer laziness is to blame there.  So I made the subji and daal and even excitedly called the husbadoo at work to come home early to have dinner. I couldn’t wait for him to taste it. Usually, I am getting Bandar to bed when he arrives and he has dinner on his own. But last night, I hovered around him at the table like a new bride, waiting to see his reaction. He loved the subji and pronounced the daal very close to his mom’s but not like his grandmom’s (who was a brilliant cook ). I will take that.  So here’s to more Gujarati fare on our table in 2015!

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8 Responses to “Day 6 – Opening up my table and my mind”

  1. smdeea11 January 6, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    I love both south Indian and gujrathi food. A change of taste in food is always good! But where are the pictures?

    • popgoesthebiscuit January 8, 2015 at 2:17 am #

      Haha..will take some pics for food related posts next timme, okay.

  2. Pepper January 6, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    What I loved most about being married to somebody from such a different regional background is that it gave me exposure to such varied food. Mint can ironically cook a lot of North Indian food but has no idea how to cook a good Tam meal. So I took it upon myself to implement a lot of sambhar, kozhambu, kootu, poriyal, etc in our diet right from the time we got married. I used the internet to learn and I’ve never looked back. So much so that now I have even made my parents learn some Tam food too. They make some amazing Tam brahm style chutneys, can make brilliant pongal, sambhar and, thayir saadam. I never felt worried about losing myself in the process of including his cuisine in our everyday diet..

    We also cook A LOT of food that is exclusive to my community. We cook a lot Sindhi and Punjabi food, since those are the areas I come from. Mint has his favourites and is so well versed with the food from my community. He knows it like an insider would and has impressed several people with his knowledge of our food 😀

    Other than this, our food is also a unique blend of random things we like to eat, both Indian and non Indian. I really love this culture exchange. Being in a mixed marriage surely helps.. Okay, I have so much to say, I will do a post!

    • popgoesthebiscuit January 8, 2015 at 2:17 am #

      I wish I had been more broad minded about this too. Cultural integration sounded extremely cool when I got married at 23 but I slowly lost the eagerness in my messed up thoughts of not losing myself. Hard to articulate what exactly I feared and how much of it was just me, ĥow much of the fear was brought on by relatives and family commenting on how Gujju I had become etc, etc. Glad I did this though and overcome whatever mental block I had.

  3. Little Fingers January 8, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    I am a big fan of gujarati food, may be because of the sweet in the dishes, again I hear each region in Gujarat has different way of cooking same dishes, not all dishes are sweet. I never felt insecure about the food, but both R and I are still not ready to talk to each other in Malayalam or Telugu, when I talk to Chucky in Malayalam and if he is around he talks to her in telugu immediately,otherwise we both talk to her in English I see that competition, poor girl her mother tongue is Hinglish now, the girl managed to learn hindi.

    • popgoesthebiscuit January 8, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      Food is a smaller issue than language for sure. I would have an issue making gujju the main means of communication at home. Language here too might become Hinglish as we talk to each other in Hindi a lot too. Bandar might learn Hindi before anything else. So far the husband barely ever speaks gujju to Bandar, only because he keeps saying it isn’t important to him..but I think it is just a matter of time. Bandar follows a lot of tamil, but won’t talk. Wonder if it ever bothers the husband at some level. Have asked before and he has said no and encouraged it, but I do think people change. He just has to go to India and hear his family being upset about the no gujju thing.

  4. magic January 10, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    ha I have only now started to cook tambram food and also started liking it, I used to hate it when i used to eat in in-laws place , it was bland and simple, but that was not exact tambram iyengar cusine I guess, I started cooking by reading blogs and asking G’s aunts and now i know that Iyengar cuisine is good but my in-laws dint cook well or i dint like that taste sigh,and there is so much MIl I speak speak about food, she wants me to follow her type of cooking and there is always silent war about food between us… I need to write a post on food soon, after reading your post…. 🙂

    • popgoesthebiscuit January 11, 2015 at 7:59 am #

      Wow…impressive that you asked G’s aunts and learnt. Do blog about it…would love to read.

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