They come in all kinds.
And whatever the kind, you love them.
You can do nothing otherwise. They endear themselves to you by just being themselves.
And by loving you ... just the way you are.
No expectations. No rancour.
One Sunday morning, three months back I got a call from my best friend from childhood C.
For those who came in late, you will know about C here.
I was very ill; confined to bed and in tremendous pain.
We had come back to the city to get treated by my old orthopaedic. Trying to settle into a bare house with minimum facilities was driving me crazy. Pain and invalidity were driving me towards self sympathy.
Days and nights were passing in a blur.
And then came the call.
I had just woken and the pain wakes up along with me; till I get to take the first painkiller of the day.
Groggy, I slowly moved to pick up the phone .... willing it to stop ringing by the time I reached it.
It did not. Went on persistantly.
I picked it up without looking at the screen.
"S?! How are you?!! Are you alright?!!!"
C's voice was urgent. Just hearing her voice put a wonderful cheer into me immediately.
But the questions put me off. I did not want to discuss my illness right now. Not with her; not so early in the morning.
"Hey! How are you?! What a surprise.", I said.
"Tell me first ... are you alright?"
"Of course I am! What's wrong?"
"I don't know. I have a feeling you are not well".
I take a breath. I had not told my parents back home about my illness then; not yet... I had kept telling myself.
How did C know then? "How did you know?"
"Know what?", she asked.
"That I am ill." ... I was convinced she meant it as a joke.
"I don't know! Which is why I'm asking you."
So I told her I was not well. She listened quietly.
Then she said "I dreamt last night that you are very ill. So had to call you as soon as it was morning.
I am coming down."
Cholar dal usually when I don't have any other dishes on the side.
Or when I have plans for only dal and rice for dinner or lunch.
Actually it is B's recipe. He loves to add tremendous amounts of onions and ginger to dals ... which personally I do not like.
Give me a simple dal anyday.
But this dal is perfect for a rainy day lunch or a light dinner on a cold, winter night.
Presently I am on a draft clearing mission ... all photographs languishing in my drafts folder are going to see the light of these bright, sunny, wintery days.
Chana dal / Bengal gram - 1 cup, washed
Cloves - 3
Green cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 1 small stick
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Ginger - 1", chopped
Garlic - 6 cloves - chopped
Green chillies - 2, chopped
Tomatoes - 2, medium sized, chopped
Turmeric / Haldi powder - ½ tsp
Red chilli powder - ½ tsp
Garam masala powder -1 tsp ( I sometimes add a pinch of Biryani masala instead )
Roasted Jeera /Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - ½ tsp
Fresh Coriander leaves - chopped
How to :
Pressure cook the dal with 2 cups of water, turmeric powder and a little salt for 2 whistles on low heat.
The dal should be cooked but not all mashed up and gooey.
Heat a little oil in a kadahi / wok.
Add the jeera. When it starts to splutter add the cloves+green cardamom+cinnamon.
Now add the chopped onions and fry till translucent.
Add the garlic , ginger and the green chillies.
If too thick, add enough water.
Check for salt. Add sugar.
Simmer for 10 minutes, check that it does not settle and burn at the bottom of the kadahi.
Remove from heat.
Sprinkle the roasted jeera powder and chopped coriander leaves on it.
This dal is slightly thickish and gravylike. Goes great with rotis or rice.
Add some salad on the side for a light, complete meal.