05.01 salima's kitchen diary

so i've started 'cooking lessons' with my mom... kinda like wok with yan but it's more like karhai with mum.

i may be a bit biased, but my mom is the greatest cook ever. this is why i have learned everything from grilled cheese to lasagna, but have never studied the art of indian cooking. no matter how well i did any dish, my mother could always do it better. and without instructions.

so on my path to perfection, i've finally decided to learn from the master, mummy-ji! only thing, she's a terrible cooking instructor.

see, my mom does not believe that there are two parts to cooking: gathering/preparation and cooking/assembly. rather, a pot with oil goes on the stove, max heat. the cupboard opens, she calls out the name of an aromatic spice. i locate the appropriate jar. i must measure it from the jar into the palm of my hand, with each of the spices she calls, successively dumping each handful into the pot when they reach the perfect measurement... and regardless of whether it's a few cinnamon sticks or a few fists of jeera powder going in, she always says sweetly each time, "juuuust a peench!". so much for measurements!

spices jam together in the pot, heat still at max, the intoxicating smell filling my nostrils... there are no ingredients on the countertop. i must bring tomatoes and onions from the fridge, dice them in seconds flat and dump them in the pot, before the spices burn.

there is always a time when the cupboard opens, and more "pinches" of the same spices get added to the pot. further confounding any attempt at measurement.

next i'm asked to retrieve veggies from the fridge, wash them and cut them directly over the pot, pronto. "um. mum. should we turn this down?" "no, bettah, it's okay." so again i'm wondering how all this happens without anything burning. but somehow the stuff cooks nicely and tastes great. by the end of it, my notes look like grade 11 algebra class. i need to bring the video cam out to the next class.

so far, i know how to make a killer curried spinach, curried shrimp, and an amazing eggplant curry. i'm so-so with veggie pilau, and want to try my hand at roti.

it also helps to know what the names of things are. sometimes she'll ask me to get "rai" out of the cupboard... and i'll be like, "ok is that mustard seed?"....

i found a pretty decent glossary in mamta's kitchen diary;

a few chosen translations here:

English Hindi
Amaranth (leaves or grain) Chauli, Chaulai, Chavlerr, Chowli, Chowlai
Anise seeds Saunf, Patli
Aniseed (see also saunf) Vilayati saunf
Asafoetida Hing or Heeng
Basil Tulsi
Bay leaf Tej Patta or Tez PattaBetel leaf Pan or Paan
Betel nut Supari/Chali/Chalia
Black Cumin Seeds Kashmiri Jeera, Shahi Jeera, Kala Jeera
Camphor Kapoor or kapur
Caraway Siya jeera
Cardamom Green Choti or green Ilaichi/Ellaichi
Cardamom Large-Brown or Black Illaichi/Elaichi Bari/Badi
Carom seeds Ajwain
Cashew nuts Kaju
Chilli Mirch
Cilantro Dhania
Cinnamon Dalchini or Darchini
Clarified butter Ghee
Clove Lavang
Cobra saffron Nag-kesar
Coconut Nariyal, Copra, Kopra
Coconut oil Narial ka Tael
Coriander leaves Hara dhania
Coriander leaves (English word) Hara Dhania
Coriander, Cilantro Dhania, Kothamalli
Cumin Jeera
Curry Leaves Curry Patta, Meetha Neem, Kari Patta
Dried ginger powder Sonth
Fennel Saunf, Moti (Shatphool or Dodda jeera)
Fenugreek leaves, dry Kasoori methi
Fenugreek Seeds Methi dana
Garlic Lahsun
Ginger Adrak
Ginger Powder Sonth or Saunth
Green cardamom Choti Ilaichi or elaichi
Hemp Bhang
Honey Madhu
Indian ice-cream Kulfi
Indian Wok Karahi
Juice Ras
Lemon Nimbu or Neembu
Lime Nimbu or Neembu
Liquorice Mulahati or Mulethi
Mint Pudina
Mustard seeds Rai or Sarson
Nigella or Onion seeds Kalaunji
Nutmeg Zaiphal
Oil Tel
Onion Pyaz
Poppy seeds Khas khas
Rose Gulab
Safflower Kusam or Kusumbo
Saffron Kesar or Zafran
Saffron Coloured Kesari
Salt Nimak
Sesame Til
Star Anise Anas phal
Sugar Shakkar
Tamarind Imli
Thyme Hasha
Turmeric Haldi or Huldi
Vegetable (generic) Sabzi
White pepper Safed mirch
Wok Kadhai

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