Now that Chotu’s all grown up (in his words, not mine), cooking’s starting to get a bit more interesting. Gone are the days when he was happy with plain dal, rice, and cold curd right out of the fridge. He’s interested in more complex flavours now. He likes gravies and fries (poriyals!). Spices and flavours. Bhindi not Alu. He loves to try and eat by himself and he loves to watch what I’m cooking. I’ve been looking forward to this time since he was born.
I love good, simple, home cooked food. I love planning meals, being organized, getting into the zone and cooking for people I love. I love reading about nutrition and cooking balanced meals and making sure everyone gets their greens and their purples. I love hunting down fresh vegetables, feeling rice between my fingers, kneading dough to make parathas, and making crisp, golden dosas with just the right amount of oil.
I love the pleasure of watching my little child eat what I’ve cooked for him. I love it when he sits on my hip to watch me pour oil in the pan and put the vegetables in. I love serving him hot, hot food on a plate and watching his little eyes light up with pleasure at a dosa or a bowl of crispy bhindi.
I love packing myself lunch. Lunch is the highlight of my workday. I look forward to eating dal and rice or pulao with raita. I love unpacking my lunch with my lone lunchmate and digging into her box and have her taste my dish of the day. I love swapping recipes with her and saying, “Ah! Cooking! It takes just half an hour to make dal/sambar and subzi.” I’ll admit it, I’m a bit self righteous about my ability to cook well and cook quickly.
As an Indian mom, food is one way I express my love for my son. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Given I’m away from him for most of the day, it leaves me feeling satisfied when I cook him one very good meal each morning. As a modern mom, I look forward to teaching him how to cook. He already knows we do not cover the capsicum and the spinach when they’re cooking. He knows we put more oil in the subzi and very little in the dal. He also knows bhindi’s old if you hear a sound when you’re cutting it. Oh my little one’s growing up to be a foodie.
Food is so important, isn’t it? It’s not just about putting something in the stomach or about nutrition. Food is such an emotional thing. It makes us happy and sad, angry and calm. It soothes us, reassures us, reminds us of home (my theory why so many immigrants don’t let go of their local cuisine). It takes us to new places, opens us up to new ideas. Food fuels us – body, mind and soul. All it asks in return is that you think about it a little. Spend a little time. Put in a little effort. Make it a shared experience. Make it mindful. Make it personal. Make it yours. Don’t be afraid of it! Never be afraid.
All images from fdprn.com