From when I have memory, she has been a lightning force in my life. She took over the role of a mother when our parents travelled abroad, leaving us in her care. She was our ticket to the cinema, ice-cream treats and picnics at India gate.
Naanisaab has always been a key disciplinarian when it comes to all things life. Simple things like, “always leave the house with a prayer so god can sit on your shoulder and be your protector”, or a bhajan she wrote – “agar bhala kisi ka kar na sako toh bura kisi ka mat karna.” There’s a lot all us grandchildren have learnt from her.
I have heard stories of the 18 year old tomboy bride from the small city of Beawar in Rajasthan who learnt everything about family, life, relationships and cooking from her mother in law – a very strong and impressionable mentor to a school topper who suddenly took on the role of a new bride.
Kamla Yashwant can whip up vegetarian feasts without sweating an eyebrow ( I sometimes start sweating just at the thought of entertaining guests at home!)
For our big family Sunday lunches, I have heard her say this countless times, “I woke up at 5 and by 7:30 am I was done with all the preparation.” And to think the menu wasn’t just rajma chawal or chole puri. Usually, it would start with kalmi vada, one of her specialties, mattar or dal kachori with imli chutney. Lunch would be rassa aloo, kadhi, mooli ki sabzi and bhindi. All this, followed by paneer jalebi (you heard it right!) or badam barfi or chocolate fudge with walnuts.
She has always taught all her children to cook and clean along with pursuing the highest levels of education – something I am sure she wishes she could have done but it was a different era.
“However successful you are,” she said to me once, “if you come home from work and there’s nothing in the fridge, you should be able to make yourself a decent meal.” And that is the truth of life I live by.
Between her 5 children, their husbands and grandchildren, she has different requests every week. Sometimes SOS calls with just a few hours notice because one of us has an urgent craving! So many times have I called her with my hankering requests to make me dal chawal mandiya or dal dhokli, a Rajasthani meal in a bowl that has fond memories for my naanisaab. I can’t wait for you to try this special recipe – simple yet bursting with flavours!
Dal dhokli recipe
1 /2 cup moong dal
1 fistful chana dal
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp salt
Dough: 1 spoon besan; 2 spoons aata; 1 tsp Mirchi; 1 tsp Jeera; 1/4 tsp Haldi; Pinch of Hing; 1/2 tbsp Ghee
Tempering: 1 spoon ghee; 1 tsp rai; 1tsp jeera; Pinch of hing; 4 pieces laung; 1/4 tsp chilli powder; Lemon juice to taste; Coriander for garnish
For the dough, mix aata and besan. Add salt to taste, chilli, jeera, haldi, hing and add water. Put small quantities of water as the dough has to be stiff and not soft. Add water till you reach that consistency. Roll the dough into a thin disc and cut into small diamonds.
Wash the moong and chana dal, add water, little salt and turmeric and cook it on the pressure cooker till it whistles once. Open the pressure cooker and add the diamond discs. Put the pressure cooker back on the stove for 15 minutes.
For the tempering, add a spoon of ghee in a hot pan. Add rai, jeera, hing, laung and chilli powder. Add 2 tbsp of water once all the spices are cooked. It stops the masalas from burning and gives a darker tadka color.
Add the tadka to the dal. Sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with fresh coriander when serving.
Mansi Mehta is a Media & Marketing professional with over 18 years of experience. From a TV presenter at NDTV to marketing international luxury brands and heading PR and new business relations at global advertising major MediaMonks, her passion for telling stories and relatable content is the common thread through her different professional roles.
Translations and detailed descriptions are provided to give a better understanding of the story to people from different cultural backgrounds across the globe.