Friday, February 11, 2005

The trouble with chapatis....

A long time back, I was invited for lunch at a school mate’s home for lunch. It was my first average UP lunch. Average in the same routine, normal, daily, 'rozmarra'. Simple tasty vegetarian food with chapatis served hot off the 'tawa'. Soft and hot. Her mother served us one by one. I just loved the idea. But that was not how it was at home. Us bengalis are rice eaters. Ofcourse now a days, many of them, us included have switched to the more healthy rotis for dinner, but alas our cook made them in advance and kept them in a casserole.

Things were different at my in-laws. They are long time residents of Delhi. Proverbial 'dilli wallas'. M-i-l made dinner in advance but rotis came hot off the 'tawa' during dinner. After I got married, it was my turn to make the rotis. I did state that I could make rotis. Very grandly at that. They even turn round when I roll them out. Is what I said. That proved to be my undoing. First of all I couldn’t roll them out quickly enough while one was on the tawa. I had to roll them all out in advance and then roast them. What took m-i-l 5 minutes, took me well over an hour to do.

But that lasted only during my brief visits to India.

When I returned for good last May, things really got serious. Every night was an ordeal, for me and for the rest of the family. I routinely turned out tough as leather, half burnt, half raw rotis. A and f-i-l bravely ate them but m-i-l was rather more vocal about it. Especially since she had a bad tooth. There I was every evening, sweat running over my forehead and into my eyes, in the terrible delhi heat, rolling out one horrible chapati after the other. My m-i-l was quite at her wits end how to teach me to do it. But after a while, even she gave up. It did seem that I was spoiling each and every roti on purpose and finding new ways to do it. The dough would stick to the rolling board, sometimes it would fall onto the floor. When I finished, there was atta all over the place. The tawa was burnt to cinders. And I was sweaty and hot and bothered and the family were chewing leather!

And then we shifted to our own place in Gurgaon, just A and me, believe it or not, the very first night, my rotis turned up light and fluffed up perfectly. And the sad part was there was no one to see them. I had to call A to witness this minor miracle. But obviously its not the same thing as his nonchalantly saying ‘Yes, yes, great’! Not content with that, my parathas turned out well too.

M-i-l understandably finds it hard to believe…

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