If you were not aware already, I document evidence of my kitchen experiments here. Yesterday SLK left a comment that had me smiling. And thinking! If you haven’t hopped over to see the actual comment, the gist of it is that most South Indians specially after moving away from home tend to pick up global (read Hindi) words for rice, lentils and vegetables.
Reading the comment a couple of times, I smiled and then realized how true it was. At least for me. Growing up in Kovai or Madras, I hardly knew the equivalents for rice, dhal and such in Hindi let alone use them. When I moved to Bangalore and eventually rented an apartment and started cooking on my own is when I started shopping for groceries and probably encountered different terms for the same vegetable in different languages. I pride myself on picking up the local lingua and often show it off too. With a roommate from Andra I found Telugu equivalents for ghee and such.
Moving to the U.S. I was blessed with neighbors from Orissa and UP. As we spent lazy afternoons chatting and making chai or sharing recipes, I learnt to say adhrak for ginger kali mirch for black pepper and lahsun for garlic as much as they picked up kootu, sambar and rasam. Eager to impress my new found friends, I dusted off my ‘kitabi’ Hindi and attempted to speak Hindi the way they spoke it. Given my ability to imbibe the characteristics of whom ever I am with at the time, I came up to speed pretty quickly. I have not looked back since. My recipes are replete with references to urad dhal, lahsun, panch puran, hing and much more.
SLK set me thinking. Why do I do it? One obvious reason is the wider reach that urad dhal has over ulutham paruppu. But beyond that, has it got something to do with my awe at all Hindi speaking, stylish people I have envied in my past? Is it a way of saying I have arrived too? Is there some deep seated complex showing up in the way I use dhal, chawal and subzi with ease? I have no idea.
What do you think? :-p