Skip to main content

Dormitory Days



My first home away from home. The company issue flat I shared my first years in Chandigarh with other singles not yet ready to set up a complete home. People transferred away from families. Transient couples who stayed a few days, or months.

It was the interlude between leaving home and starting a real life. My actual "growing up" years. My first brush with compassion, and conceit.

It was also the first time I realized that not everyone, everywhere eats paranthas for breakfast.

Tons of cultural nuances I picked up from other roomies stay with me even now. So do some recipes, new for me then, cherished ever since. This sambar is one of them. Made without any vegetables, even without curry leaves, this is a sambar of a bachelor kitchen. Of a house where everyone routinely forgot to shop for groceries, and the sad looking onion in the corner was the only concession to the sabziwala who stopped by last week.

First you boil 1/3 cup of arhar dal with 2 cups of water, salt and turmeric. You need it turned to a mush so be a bit generous with your cooking time. In the meantime, soak a golf ball sized piece of tamarind in a cup of warm water, and strain to get a thin pulp a few minutes later. Thinly slice the onion. Root into the cupboard for spices, manage to find some cumin seeds and black mustard seeds. Give up on everything else the recipe called for. Thank God that no one stole the MDH sambar powder sitting in that secret compartment in the fridge.

Heat a tbsp of oil. Add cumin and mustard seeds, about a tsp each, and let them splutter. Add onions and let them brown on a medium heat. Now add a tbsp of sambar powder, mix well and then add the tamarind water. Let it come to a boil and then simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add the dal, mashed into the water it was cooked in. Let everything simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to meld, then test for seasonings and add more salt if you need to.

Comments

Unknown said…
Hi,

Looks amazing...Love the pancake!!YUMmmm..

Dr.Sameena@

www.myeasytocookrecipes.blogspot.com
Unknown said…
You've had quite the life :) Loved hearing about it!
manisha sharma said…
hey , nice blog , like it ,
won’t be nice if i u can clickover to my blog page too ,
& post some suggestion

Popular posts from this blog

Mystery Fruit

This only happened a few times every year, just when the rainy season kicked in. A street hawker will come by, straw basket on head. He will yell "kaul chapni" and I will run out to buy a bundle of these. Stuck together like flowers, they looked like a bouquet. Every hole contains a little fruit. You break out the package, peel the tiny fruit that pops out and eat it. Done slowly, it can take you an hour to eat an head. Or did, when I was about 12 years old. That was the last time I saw this fruit. I've never seen it again, didn't even know what it was called or where it came from. Three weeks back, Vikram Doctor wrote about a store in Khar that sells Sindhi foods. He described this fruit and I knew it came from my vivid childhood memories. And finally, I knew we were talking about lotus fruit. Now talk about coincidences. Last weekend, I was passing by a lane in Bandra and for the first time in many, many years I saw the straw basket filled with my mytery fru

Of Brun and Bun Maska

There is more to Bombay's breads than the pao that goes into pao bhaji and vada pao. There's Brun. and there's bun. We will get there. First, you have to get to know the city's Parsis. And Iranis, who are also Zoroastrians, but came to city a little later, in the late 19th or early 20th century. And when they came, they brought with them these little cafes that dot the city. I am no expert on Irani chai cafes. And I can't tell you whether Yazdani Bakery will provide you the best experience or Kyani's. But I can tell you a few things you need to ignore when you get there. Appearances don't matter; so ignore the fact that the marble/glass top tables and the wooden chairs look a bit dilapidated. Also ignore the rundown look the place sports. Instead, get yourself settled. And order a bun muska. This one's familiar to you as a first cousin of the soft hamburger bun. It's similar, but just a tad bit sweeter. Maska, of course, is the generous dollop o

Kadhi Chawal

I just can't think of what to write today. That's what my absolute favorite meal does to me, I just want to stop talking and dig right in. So I won't ramble and go straight on the recipe for kadhi. First, make the pakoras that would go in the kadhi. Slice an onion lengthwise. Make a batter with 1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan), salt, red chilli powder and water. Dip onions in this batter and deep fry until crisp. Keep aside. Now blend 1 cup yogurt and 1/3 cup besan into a paste. Add 3-4 cups water to make a very thin blend. Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan. Add a tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ajwain (carom seeds) and methre (fenugreek seeds). Let splutter for a few seconds. Now add a large onion, cut lengthwise into thin slices and cook until browned lightly. Pour in the yogurt/besan mix and add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp red chilli powder. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for at least half an hour. You have to stir this occasio