Ma never enjoyed cooking and often wondered if her baby had been switched at birth as I spoke about my love for cooking, but she got very happy when I asked her about tips and tricks of a certain recipe. I was making panch mishali torkari (veg medley in Bengali way) this morning and I thought of her tip. “Jol dish na, shobjigulo nijer jol e sheddho hobe. Jol er chhite dite parish.’ (Don’t pour any water while cooking. The veggies will cook in their own juice. You can sprinkle a little water to prevent burning.)
She did cook a couple of dishes that I loved. One was dim kosha (egg curry) and begun diye tangra macher chocchori (a fish preparation with eggplant). Whenever I asked her to make those for me she beamed. She told Gouri to chop onions and whatever she needed. She would tell them with immense pride that I love those two dishes made by her. Sean loved a certain paneer dish that she cooked and praised her to high heavens everytime he ate it. “Ma, no one can make paneer like you.” And her rumbling laughter started in her face and flowed through her body.
I cooked all morning as I smiled at memory of cooking together with ma in our kitchen in USA and sharing all kinds of thoughts, laughter, gossip as we chopped, sautéed, cleaned. Those were special moments. I have a life time of memories to unfold and relive in my head.