Dal Tadka

Ahem....! (Clearing my throat)

Ladies and gentlemen - I proudly present - the best dal in the world as cooked by my darling daughter, H - The happy one! ( The rest follows in past tense!).

The occasion seems just right with the announcement of JFI-Love by two lovely ladies Pratibha (Talent) and Jigyasa (The desire to know more) in loving memory of Pedatha here. JFI is a monthly blog event which is the brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi, and is hosted by various bloggers in turns. This time our hostesses have made it special for us by asking us to post a recipe or an anecdote but it should be a tribute to someone whose cooking you love or who inspires you to cook. They pay a fitting tribute to their inspiration - Pedatha - in the form of a book containing a collection of her recipes titled "Cooking at home with Pedatha" - You can buy or read more about the book here.

This post is extra special because the dish posted is made by my daughter. She is 11, and enjoys the same hobbies as I do (People keep telling me - Wait till she turns 13!), or rather my son, daughter and I - we all enjoy reading, seeing humorous serials, dancing with Michael Jackson on video, singing Carpenters'/George Michael/Linkin' Park/Shaan/KK/Kishore and Mohd. Rafi songs, acting out parts from Hindi movies and photography. My daughter made the lunch one day when I was really tired after taking part in a cycle race! I was in no mood to enter the kitchen and it was already 12:30p.m. It was then that H volunteered to help. I did not think she could do it all by herself but could not say no when I saw her enthusiasm. She was acting all grown up and telling me - "Ma, ni rest edutuko. Naan daan irukene. Yenek ellam panna teriyum." (Ma, you take rest. I am here. I know to make everything). Ahhhh....lazy me, I just needed that kind of pampering, so I just decided to watch and help when she really needed me. I do enjoy indulging the kids and letting them think that I could not do certain things without them;).

She washed the rice and tuvar dal. Kept them in the pressure cooker for three whistles with enough water, and then let it cool. Meanwhile she went about cutting the onions, garlic, tomatoes, ginger and coriander. She quite enjoyed herself - trying to act all grown up and professional chef like :).

I removed the dal and rice once the cooker cooled. She heated a tbsp. of oil, spluttered a tsp. of cumin seeds and added the garlic, curry leaves and ginger. Added the onions next. Fried till they turned pink. Added the slightly mashed dal followed by tomatoes. Cooked it adding water to make it a little thin (not runny!). Added the salt, chilli powder, haldi pdr. and coriander. Removed it from the gas, ladled a small amount in her favourite bowl. Every now and then she would come out and stand with one elbow resting on the kitchen opening and her palms on her waist and watch TV nonchalantly imitating me and making us laugh! (All this time while I had returned from the cycling venue by an auto my poor husband was cycling back on the bike!)

I was surprised when she ironed a table napkin. She smiled, laid it on the table with the bowl on top. Looked in my bag and took snaps with the camera. And then she said - That is for my blog - shall we create it today? I explained to her that there was time still for her to indulge in this activity, and that it is more enjoyable to play out, and that she could have her blog when she is just a little older and more aware of the rights and wrongs of the 'internet world'.

I was amused and proud - Ah...she is growing into a nice young tween....my girl:). It doesn't seem quite so long ago when I held H in my arms as a baby. I still recall how she surprised us by not going through the crawling stage, talking when she was just nine months old, and the 11 years of pure pleasure (OK! there have been those times when she kept me awake or sit up all night long just because she could not go to sleep and I would go all tired and groggy to office......but they taught me patience and perseverance the former I am afraid is not one of my virtues!) I have shared with her. Even now, though she acts irresponsible, I know I can trust her to look after her brother when I am not around - In fact, my neighbour tells me that she can get him to eat food better than I do! My son was around encouraging her and informing her helpfully that he wouldn't mind eating anything, ha ha....boys will be boys. His area of talent lies in cleaning as he is quite a neat and tidy kid. Now that the kids are at my parents place, we really miss them and I remember this one (Can't recall who said them);

Motherhood is a girl dragging a doll by its hand.

A boy is a pain in the ass when he is around and a pain in the heart when he is not.

So true!! I miss them and am looking forward to joining them at Bangalore soon.

This dal being a creation of my daughter with lots of love seemed so appropriate for JFI - Love. As for the writeup, what has already been said once straight from the heart cannot be retold again without sounding artificial, so I would rather redirect you to 'my inner voice' here, where I have poured my heart out in this matter :)

That post has been replaced by this one for JFI - love, as I found out later that 'egg recipes' are not part of the menu here! This simple dish made with love, believe me - tasted so good, I don't think I have had a better one before! I made a quick stuffed bhindi in the m/w to go with it, and we had a hearty lunch that day, all thanks to a thoughtful daughter!

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