So… the other day, I was at my regular supermarket checking out stuff. Most of the sales and counter staff know me by sight as I shop there every week almost. She checks in some item and then pulls out a Kitkat bar from a basket, shows it to me and says, “Ma’am, this is free with… (some other product that I’ve forgotten now – I am an advertiser’s nightmare – never remembering what comes free with what. I might remember the free thing but I cannot, for the life of me, ever remember what it came free with – thereby defeating the whole point of the ad campaign!!) And if certain advertising industry pals of mine are reading this, you can pay me for a free tutorial on brand recall, advertsing effectiveness and so on… 😉
Back to my story… so I say thank you very nicely (having been brought up with proper manners and so on). Then I notice that she is looking rather bloated and has a load of bangles on each arm. She’s also looking rather hungry – it is lunchtime almost… and so… i put two and two together (like any good MBA would) and come up with… forty four (also like any good MBA would). Remembering my own very long ago pregnancies, the seemantam bangles and the almost insatiable hunger I used to feel while doing my sales calls, waiting for lunchtime, then snack time, then tea time… was inspired…
So I hold out the Kitkat to her, tell her my whole family is off chocolate (lie!), so why don’t you have it instead? She protests a bit, then accepts it shyly. Billing is done. My bags are loaded. And by way of goodbye, I ask her casually, “So when are you due?” (You can skip this bit if you’re Indian – you’ll understand! But for everyone else, that is an Indian’s unobtrusive way of asking, when is your baby due?) She looks puzzled. “What, ma’am?”
No one ever accused me of being slow on the uptake. “Oh”, I wave airily. “You know. When is your summer break due?”
Then before she latches on to just how lame a save that was, give her my bestest and most brilliant smile and walk off – pretending to be jauntily unconcerned! I don’t fool her for a minute!
Come back home and relate this edifying tale to my family. Hubby, of course, sighs the defeated sigh of a long suffering husband with a wife who, according to him, takes one foot out of her mouth – only to put the other foot in! “But she did look pregnant,” I protest weakly…. my daughter very kindly points out to me that since this is the fourth time I’ve done this (in her memory and god alone knows how many times before that!), maybe I should contain my friendliness to sales girls. Even weaker protest from me… (daughters have that effect on one, you know!)… “she looked hungry… soooo… ” and then decide that it is better to beat a dignified (as dignified as I can muster under the circumstances, that is!) retreat… then I’ll live to fight another day! To ruminate on favourite pregnancy foods…
One of which was this…
- Basmati rice – 1 cup – wash well and soak in 2 cups water for half an hour at least. Cook till almost but not quite done.
FOR MASALA PASTE
- Ripe tomatoes – 4 large – chunked
- Ginger – 1/2 “piece
- Dhaniya powder – 1/2 tsp
- Jeera powder – 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
- Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Grind tomatoes and all the powders togther to a knobbly puree. Set aside.
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Cardamom – crushed – 1
- Cinnamon – 1 ” stick
- Cloves – 2
- Bay leaf – 1
- Sugar – 1 scant tsp
- Onion 1 large – sliced fine
- Green chilis – sliced
- Pepper – 1/2 tsp
Boiled peas – 1 cup
Heat the ghee and oil. Add sugar. Let it caramelise. Add the whole spices and the onions and fry till onions are golden brown. Add the tomato paste and cook for about ten minutes till reduced to a thick paste. Add the rice, boiled peas, salt and pepper and mix gently together. Cover and cook for five minutes more till rice is tender.
I serve this with nothing except a cucumber salad and plain yogurt and if you’re felling in the mood for some calories – potato chips!
And when you put this is your mouth, you’ll have to take both your feet out!