B had a business meeting with his team that had come all the way from the US, in Bangalore. And insisted I tag along.
I wasn't too sure at first. But the thought of spending a full week all alone got to me.
Earlier I was never this wimpy kind. But the experiences of the last few months still have not let go of me altogether and I do have difficulties facing some days in whole and others, in part.
Evenings are especially disturbing.
So, I tagged along ... the cost of an extra person in a five star notwithstanding.
And I am so glad I did.
This break did me wonders.
Not only did I get to spend time on my own, with nothing looming in the horizon, but also I got to meet some very fabulous people too.
The people from B's team are wonderful. While I had known about them all the while, I could now put faces and characters to those names finally.
Spent some wonderful evenings with them, after they returned from a hard day's work in this sweltering B'lore heat.
I also got to meet some good friends that I had made while we were staying in Bangalore a few years back. When I was leaving Bangalore the last time, I was very ill. And some of them had helped us in every possible way.
I was so glad I could go back and thank them personally.
She had got her daughter along too and it was wonderful catching up with her over an extended lunch of more than 3 hours , about all the time that has passed by and all that has happened in our lives.
Both were surprised at the other's change.
She, the ever delicate and sheltered girl, is now a full fledged business woman, handling her Dad's industry smoothly.And bringing up a child too. But she is just as quiet as she was earlier.
I, on the other hand, have changed and am more talkative and opinionated now.
Not as delicate as before and yes, I have learnt to cross the road and buy stuff from shops on my own.
It was time well spent, laughing at our sheltered childhood.
Another thing that I did was spend some good time, and money of course, at an ayurvedic spa.
Also, I had taken my crochet along. Spend a few lazy afternoons knitting and watching the tv, when it was a roaring 41 degrees outside.
And the cherry on this wonderful cake was getting to buy a bunch of Pui shaak ( the Malabar spinach ) before I left Bangalore.
It is my favourite leafy green and very unfortunately do not get it in Pune. But I knew where I could buy this in Bangalore and had kept the morning of our last day for this.
Since the team had already left, B had that one day for me ... or half the day as we flew back in the evening. So booked a cab, went all the way to HAL market and bought two huge bunches of this glorious green.
This trip has been the best ever, in a very long time.
Now to today's recipe.
I cook the Lauki or the Lau or the bottle gourd with the Chana dal or the Bengal gram in numerous ways.
At times I cook it with the Masoor dal too, in the liquid form. And at times I cook it in the dryish form too.
But my favourite is the slightly dryish variety that can be eaten with both rotis as well as rice.
The Chana dal, when not very cooked and mushy, is great for this kind of dishes.
Well cooked but still retaining its form, it complements the lauki pieces well.
I also cook this combination in two different ways and more. Sometimes the Bengali way, with the Paanch phoron or the Radhuni as the tempering. And the Rajasthani or the North Indian way at other times, with jeera and sometimes hing as the tempering.
And then there are the versions using onion, onion + ginger or even with garlic.
Whatever way, it is one of our favourite vegetarian dishes.
Ingredients needed to cook Chana dal with Lauki :
Chana dal / Bengal gram - 1 cup
Lauki / Lau / Bottle gourd - 1 medium, diced into medium pieces
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida - a pinch
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp + 1 tsp
Mirchi / Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Dhaniya / Coriander powder - 1½ tbsp
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Fresh corainder leaves - chopped
Salt - to taste
Water - to cook the dal
Chilli flakes ( optional )
Lemon - cut into half
How to cook :
Cook the chana dal with 1 tsp haldi + salt + 5 cups of water for 2 whistles on low heat.
The dal should be just done and not mushy.
Remove and cool.
Heat oil in a kadahi.
Add the jeera + hing.
Add the lauki pieces and toss on medium high heat for a good while.
Add haldi + salt.
Cover and cook till almost done.
Remove cover and add the dal.
Check seasoning. Adjust water.
Cover and boil for some more time.
Remove cover and add dhaniya powder + red chilli powder.
Cover and simmer.
Remove cover, add dhaniya leaves, chilli flakes and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Switch off heat and cover and let it stand for five minutes.
I add chopped dhaniya stems too.
Enjoy with roti or rice.