Of Dhal, Chawal, Subzi.

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

12 comments

  1. :–) I use the hindi words bcos I dont know the tamil equivalents. You see I learnt cooking properly only after coming to the US. Ulutham paruppu and all I can never associate.
    Why is Hindi considered hip? But you are right, it does reach a wider audience.

  2. Now I am hungry early in the morning for some adais looking at your cooking page! :–)) Will try them out over the weekend.

  3. All Hindi speaking stylish people ???Are you sterotyping them by saying everyone who speaks hindi are stylish and we are not?
    Come on,even after looking at Lallos and Mayawatis

  4. May be you didn’t say Ulutham paruppu in that recipe, because if I were a novice and printed out your recipe and went over to the local Indian store to buy the ingredients, I would walk right past Urad Dal and hunt all over the store and come back thinking whatever Ulutham paruppu was, it was a rare thing unavailable at Indian stores in my area.
    Enna na solradhu? Correct thaanae?

  5. @SK: Hindi is not hip. My perception of hindi speaking, nice dressed people is. πŸ™‚ Sorry to make you hungry early morning. 😦
    @Villageboy: Truth is – I am not and most people I know north of the Vindhyas are. πŸ™‚ I guess I am *stereotyping*. πŸ™‚
    @Rekha: Sariya sonne!

  6. Rombha over-a think pannadha laksh….Be comfy in the shoes you wear πŸ˜‰ Or wasnt that one of your earlier posts?

  7. Wow, I leave a comment yesterday and today I see a post about it. Thanks! I am from South India too. The day I first went to the grocery store in the US, I was confused with what kind of dal I should buy. All looked yellow and white to me. Then from next time onwards, I used to make a mental match of which paruppu is which dal.

  8. ‘kitabi’ Hindi is ‘the’ perfect expression.

    I think it is the global reach, words that unify us outside the country inspite of our regional and cultural differences. Am I getting too ‘kitabi’ or what?

  9. He he. Its been other way round for me! I look at people speaking Tamil with such ease and i don’t think I’ll ever get that accent!

  10. I have to use hindi for my blog too, as my dear husband says that people will understand it more. :} Having said that I do like the high class or proper hindi, it is so poetic and romantic.

  11. @Arch: It sure was. I thought it was interesting how some complexes are so deep rooted. At least for me. πŸ™‚
    @slk: I understand. Thankfully I was cooking even before I moved here and was open to different names for the same paruppus in different languages. And yes! you are right about language unifying us rather than dividing.
    @Shalu: haha! you don’t want an accent lady.
    @Kiran: That is true though. I enjoy posts on local dishes using local names too.
    @Mads: We should talk over phone and perhaps I can impress you with my hindi speaking abilities? ;p

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