soya nuggets and vegetable pulao

Finally am rested and more than happy to be back in my “nest”! I had taken a more than long trip to India, and to top it things got unnecessarily delayed.
Dar welcomed me with dark clouds, a soothing cool breeze and a gentle drizzle. My travel woes were washed away with the rains and I couldn’t help but feel so alive. The night was sparkling with 3 big ships swaying gently in the sea and cool briny breeze soothed me to sleep. It was such a respite considering that I had very little sleep in my home in India. I love my sleep to death, and so was hating the fact that I had turned nocturnal, waking up every night religiously at around 2 am and not being able to do what I loved till the wee hours of morning, only to be woken up by upsetting sounds of nearby construction work.
It sounds so depressing – doesn’t it? And therefore, nothing felt better to see another girl hugging my man and he giving all the attention to her. My world was complete and I hadn’t felt so good in sometime.
The house felt so clean and welcoming, and my bed, oh what a joy it was to lay my weary back straight on that perfectly comfortable mattress.
People live in such a myth when they say “what’s there in Africa?” …..”is it safe?” – I ask them “how do you define safe?”. I walk around streets, I drive at night, I can stay alone in my house, I can talk to strangers…….
I love Africa and if God wills I could just settle down in Nairobi for good, despite my love affair with Cape Town.
I thank some wonderful lovely people who made my visit to India fun and worthwhile…..for making me laugh till I dropped and the memories that were created.
Delhi was disappointing than I ever expected, the saving grace being Ola Cabs (what a fab service!), Gol Guppas – every mouthful bursting with delight and the festive fervor of Diwali Melas sparkled my eyes.
Getting back into a closed home, and living a routine life just for a few days, is tougher than you can imagine. It feel like a waste to remove cobwebs from far away spots knowing they will be back the minute I put the locks on. Getting the water running seems tougher than anything else. Rummaging through knick knacks is more painful than anything you can think of. Vihas first jeans – I cant let go. A curio I brought from Hauz Khas is precious – I waited for it to be up on sale. Vihas first teddy which was bigger than her is now her baby. The clip attached to her navel with a piece of the umbilical cord, I will tell her one day what it really is. Her first anklets, her first bangles. The first shirt Rajeev brought me, I run my fingers over it feeling the silky suede, straighten it and and put it back. A diary full of dry roses he brought me on various occasions – I cant just chuck into the bin. Birthday and Valentine Cards, cards to say sorry, cards for anniversaries….our first piece of furniture…..its all too precious. I go through this ritual every time I visit my home, and I will never be able to give up on those things
A visit to mum’s house and I saw the old aluminium tea pan and a tea kettle she and Dad used to pour tea from. I know it was the first piece of utensil she purchased as a bride in her new home, far far away from her land. My eyes stuck on it – I know why she couldn’t throw them away…..she never will be able to, and nor will I.

In life, we have to decide what we need to hold on to, and what we need to give up. These decisions are tough, but they need to be made.

I am going to share a dish which means home to me. When I make it, I remember the aroma coming from my mom’s kitchen which was promising enough. It has something about it that makes everything come together, and is extremely gratifying. A simple pickle and raita to go along makes my day, and a roasted pappad is a bonus. Here’s the recipe for a wholesome soya nuggets and vegetable pulao.

2 cups soaked basmati rice
1 cup soaked and squeezed soya nuggets
1/4 cup green peas
1 big carrot diced
1/4 cup French beans chopped
1 big onion sliced finely
5-6 flakes of garlic minced
2 tomatoes pureed
4-5 clove sticks
1 stick cinnamon
3-4 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 tspn cumin / jeera seeds
1 tspn turmeric powder
1 tbspn coriander powder
1 tspn garam masala powder
1 tspn red chilli powder (optional)
1 tbspn of ghee (clarified butter)
1 tbspn butter (optional)
juice of half a lemon

In a pan add the ghee and when hot add the cumin seeds allowing to sputter.
Then add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and gently crushed cardamom pods and stir for a second or two.
Add the minced garlic and without burning them add the onions.
Cook on slow till pinkish brown.
Add the coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and stir after every addition.
Now add the tomato puree and 1/2 tspn of salt, and cook till the oil separates.
Now add the garam masala and stir
Add the nuggets and vegetables mixing well.
Now add the rice and stir well for about 2 minutes.
Add 4 and a half glasses of water (in the same glass you measured the rice), add enough salt and juice of half a lemon.
Allow to come to a boil and then lower the flame and cover and cook till rice is well done and water is absorbed,
Add in a handful of chopped coriander leaves, and if you feel generous a dollop of butter.
Mix well and cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes before you serve.

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