Hasini was doing subtraction the other day. She was puzzled and I impatient. She asked me if every time we borrowed, we borrowed only 1 and not more. I looked at her genuinely curious face. I felt sorry for being harsh. Yuvan meanwhile was singing “Dumka, A dumka, A dumka dumka dumka!” and writing the wrong spelling. The two giggled uncontrollably. I felt myself teetering between laughing and yelling. I couldn’t make up my mind which way to go. Many times I go berserk and hate myself for it.
I will never understand how after dropping the bournvita on the floor, colouring the eraser black, drenching the AC remote, plotting with the thatha paati to secretly eat ice cream, losing the 3rd water bottle in 2 months and stapling together the pages of their rough book, they can look as innocent as they do when they sleep. A wave of guilt and remorse washes over me as I watch their sleeping faces, yuvi sleeps with half closed eyes, Hasini with her mouth slightly open, her arms under his head, he hugging his cheetah, his legs kicking her back. They take turns waking up during the night, to go to the toilet, to complain about the snake, the tiger, the skeleton; I pat them back to sleep without opening my eyes promising to slay them all. They insist they have to go “chuchi” and pat me to sleep and go to the toilet. How and when do these little creatures grow up and what are the mothers to do then?
Cut to morning 7:35 am
I turn up the heat on the dal makhani, heat the dosa tawa and sprint to the fridge to get the dosai maavu (dosa batter) while Yuvan stands on the little stool in the kitchen tying his tie and asking what I am making for lunch. Hasini walks in with hair brush and hair bands in her hand for her ponytail, I ask her to wait, she stares out the kitchen door dreamily, Yuvan brings a bottle of milk from the fridge asking for a bournvita. He demands an answer, I tell him its Dal Makhani and Ghee rice, he kicks and screams that it is not what he wants, that it’s always Hasini’s favourites, I make a dosai, brush Hasini’s hair, take out the dosai, Hasini says it’s not her favourite either, I warn them both to stop complaining, he yells, I tie the ponytail, I yell back. It’s 7:43 am. 7 minutes before school van arrives. I make bournvita. They’re fighting over something. I ask him to drink his bournvita and Hasini to go get her ID car. I pack the ghee rice and dal makhani into the lunch boxes, dosai and podi into their breakfast boxes, tell them I’ll tell their teacher everything. 7:46. 4 minutes to go. I change from my nighty to a pajama and hobble out the door. We cross the road to the bus stand and wait in silence. The van turns the road. I try to make peace. I tell them I’ll make muttai kurma the next day. They climb into the bus. He looks at me but doesn’t wave. I wave, he ever so slightly lifts up his hand to acknowledge.
He runs up to me when I return from office. He complains about Hasini and Hasini about him. I ask them about lunch. He tells me he actually enjoyed the Dal Makhani but makes me promise I’ll make muttai kurma the next day. I promise; we’re friends again.
This Dal Makhani is creamy and deliciously comforting with Ghee rice or chappathi. I made it on a weekday morning amidst two little hardened skeptics who took a strong liking to it after eating it. Dal Makhani is my favourite dal to order at a restaurant. Squeeze a small wedge of lemon while serving. Add a few raw onion slices if desired. Make it today.
- Whole black urad dal – ½ cup (soaked overnight)
- Rajma – 1/8 cup (soaked overnight)
- Onion – 1 medium chopped fine
- Tomato – 1 medium chopped fine
- Ginger – 1 inch piece grated
- Green chillies – 3 slit lengthwise
- Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Cumin powder – ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Garam masala powder – ¼ tsp
- Kasoori methi – a couple of pinches
- Salt to taste
- Sugar – ¾ tsp (adjust as per taste)
- Ghee/Butter – 2 tsp
- Oil – 1 tsp
- Cream or Whole milk – ¼ cup
- Lemon juice – from a half a lemon (optional)
- Rinse the soaked lentils (whole urad dal and rajma) together and transfer to a pressure cooker. Add twice the volume in water and pressure cook for 15-20 minutes or till they are cooked soft. Switch off and let pressure subside.
- Heat a thick bottomed pan or kadai. Add oil and ghee/butter to the pan. When the oil turns hot, add grated ginger, slit green chillies and chopped onions and sauté for a 2-3 minutes or till onions start turning golden around the edges.
- Add in chopped tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes turn mushy. Add in the spice powders and salt and mix well.
- Lightly mash the pressure cooked lentils. Pour the cooked lentils into the pan. Pour a cup of water and mix well. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, turn heat to medium low and cook for about 8-10 minutes to let the flavours meld and the dal thicken.
- Open lid, stir well, sprinkle in the kasoori methi and sugar and mix well. Turn heat to low and stir in the cream/whole milk. Switch off.
- Serve with roti or ghee rice. Squeeze lemon juice while serving.