As a child, there were always some benefits in falling sick. While my daadu (grandfather) and father gave me extra cuddles, my brother was not supposed to trouble me and Ma made special meals help restore my fading appetite. The one thing I very clearly recollect that she always made was plain rice with yellow moong dal topped with a generous quantity of Ghee (because Ghee makes everything better) with a Chaunk (tempering) of Jeera (cumin seeds), Hing (asafoetida) and a lonely green chilli. As a treat, I would also get a small helping of mango pickle and Curd to go with it. Of course, my daadu had to feed me because I would ensure that I milked my illness to all its glory by demanding to be fed.
Over the years, this meal became a catharsis for not just my state of health but also my mind. And with the amount of kitchen sickness I have felt over the past few weeks, making moong dal was imperative tonight. I craved for not just home cooked food, but I was aching for familiarity, something warm, something that could remind me of engulfing hugs and gentle kisses on my forehead.
Even though my new kitchen is yet to be my own and most of my stuff is depressingly packed away in boxes, I came home after work and rummaged through them to rescue my beloved pressure cooker and a packet of dal. So dinner tonight was as simple as simple can get. No spices, no fancy ingredients, just memories in a bowl. At one stage, I could almost smell my dead and my Mother with every whistle that was released from the pressure cooker.
Various Dal recipes can be found here on my blog for Dal lovers like me.