A mother’s love can be detrimental to any planned weight-loss programme, and a mother’s love, especially in Punjabi households, manifests itself as 8-inch diameter aloo parathas (potato stuffed parathas), served with dollops and dollops of butter.
A recent trip back to the national capital to call on the ageing matriarch saw me gaining at least 5 kilo inside of 4 days. How? Well, with each aloo paratha, was slicing off a 5mm thick bar of butter, that lasted only till half the paratha was finished, necessitating another chunk of a 5mm thick butter bar. Four parathas each morning – you do the math!
And not to forget the halwa and the laddoos – loaded as they are with sugar and cooked in desi ghee. On second thoughts, I think 5 kilo may be an understatement.
What was even more glaring – and very hurtful to the ego – was the realisation that no matter how well I thought or imagined I cooked for myself back in my lair in maximum city, the taste of matriarchal cooking was quite different. I tried to console the bruised ego – it’s only the novelty factor, of eating at one’s permanent address after a long time that makes the food taste, well, different. Okay, okay, taste a bit better than mine! I could still cook better than any damn housewife in this world, I tried to mollycoddle the ego, in vain.
My entire reasoning – that when men cook, they cook stress-free and so they cook better whereas women, when they cook, probably do so under duress to live up to some perception – flew right in my face for the entire extended weekend.
The paneer bhurji (home-made cottage cheese made a la scrambled eggs) that I made, and which I thought smelled heavenly, suddenly seemed like a chalk dish made in some distant nightmare. The chapatis/phulkas that I made back in my bachelor pad suddenly paled in comparison even to the ones made by the maid – now that was definitely a stab to the ego.
The only saving grace, as far as I was concerned, were the chana (black gram) – mine were definitely better and with the rice, they tasted heavenly (considering I cooked the chana in the pressure cooker for 45 minutes to soften them up, they do take a lot of time to become soft for eating). Besides, the tempering of finely diced onions, ginger, green chillies and the garnish of coriander….finger-lickin’ good, I say chaps! Finally, a dish that wasn’t bettered at home – some consolation for a pride that had been severely battered, unknown to the lady of the house.