Every week after we pick up the grocery I sit down with my red sticky notepad to plan meals for the following week. Between providing a healthy balanced food for every meal and catering to the house inmate’s (the husband) preferences, it is always a delicate balancing act.
A doting Indian mother who keeps away all hideous looking vegetables with appalling shades and ensures that every meal served has a favorite item of her darling child, not only gains a place in heaven but also in her child’s heart (which sentimentally speaking is equivalent to swarg for her).
Following tradition, the husband refuses to eat beets, rolls his eyes at papaya and recoils with disgust at the sight of an innocuous vegetable like lauki (bottle gourd) which is famously known as eyesore in our household. So it’s not a surprise that the final list takes a good 30-45 minutes to be ready and go up on the refrigerator door.
Yesterday we got a decent haul of fresh vegetables. It was a Monday evening, but the advantage of dropping into the Asian market on a late weekday evening are one too many.
It means less chances of being pushed around by the carts, more browsing time and no maze to negotiate. I am not exaggerating about the crowd that storms the store on a regular weekend. Most often my challenge lies in the pile of green beans. It is common knowledge that there are always more than enough broken or cut beans hiding in the pile. To weed out the bad one and select the sturdy good ones needs time. Something which the person standing next to you clearly is running short of and looks impatient as you guiltily turn over the pile in hope of finding some good ones. Phew!
Quite a few times I had to make trips mid-week when I failed to score a spot at the green beans counter and it was Hakka noodles on the dinner menu.
After preparing a meal of pui saag chochori (a medley of malabar spinach, pumpkin, radish and potato), korola r torkari ( sauteed mix of bitter gourd, brinjal and carrot) – both of which are highly rated and approved by the husband – I had a challenge at hand. Last night I was unable to come up with a dish to incorporate the innocuous jhinga or ridge gourd. An alu jhinge posto (potato and ridge in a spiced poppy seed based sauce) is always an option but the Bangali in me refuses to share anything that has posto. So I decided to go back to an old favorite of mine. Not prepared by my mother or grandmother, but introduced by good old hostel canteen. A creamy, mildly spiced kootu. As an outsider to the south Indian cuisine, I would describe kootu as vegetables in a coconut lentil based sauce. Its healthy, vegan, vegetarian and delicious.
After that final tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves, I was literally transported back to Chennai. My close friends know the immense love I have for kootu. Recreating this in the space of my kitchen left me feeling happy and satisfied. Food has this strange powerful effect on me. Recipe sourced from old reliable Google.
I plan to serve it with hot rotis for dinner. Will await for the husband’s verdict on this one.