I’ve been counting days with a sinking heart. Three months later is finally here. Mom and dad are leaving for India. These parents didn’t give birth to me, but as I keep telling them, they’ve given me re-birth, the chance at a new life.
Until recently, I was a mother who worked part time, working in snatched moments. My main focus was my children. It was necessary and important, but I did feel an occasional twinge. That my universe was not much larger than a family.
I’ve found better balance now, but it’s been like riding a bike on an unknown road. There’s also been a realization of how fragile and in the end, how short-lived, the past years have been.
“When will you return” I had asked my in-laws anxiously, when they left last year. “When you find a job,” my mother-in-law had replied confidently. When the time came, they were here all the way from Vizag, and just a phone-call later it seemed.
I’ve come home every evening in the last three months, found myself a plate, and heaped it full of home-cooked food from the kitchen. Spicy sautéed vegetables, yellow lentil and steaming rice with ghee. The food has just been cooked or it sizzles on the stove as I wander around, filling the air with a delicious scent. My belly gets filled, as does my heart.
I’m learning a thing or two about unconditional love.
Mom’s very green rice
I’ve named this dish for Mollie Katzen‘s Very Green Rice from The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without which sounded so much like this one. I love this dish because it’s so brightly green and because the taste of the fenugreek leaves adds an addictive earthy, leafy aroma to the rice. The bits of chickpea, green pea and cashew add texture and interest to the rice and make it a whole meal when combined with raita, which is a savory yogurt side with minced fresh vegetables. My father-in-law makes a fantastic raita with a mix of finely chopped onions, cucumber, de-seeded tomato, green pepper and on occasion, fiery bird’s eye chillies.
I especially like this dish, because the green paste can be made a day or two ahead in time and mixed into leftover rice. Alternatively the paste can be made while the rice is boiling. What takes a little time really is the washing and trimming of the gritty fenugreek leaves.
1 cup of white rice, boiled (yields about 3 cups)
1-2 green chillies, optional
2 cups of methi/fenugreek leaves, washed well and with just the leaves snipped off from the stems
2 cups of coriander leaves
OR 4 cups of spinach leaves, roughly chopped
2 whole green cardamom pods
1” piece of cinnamon stick
½ tsp cumin seeds
Additions to toss-in
1 cup of boiled chickpeas
½ – ¾ cup of cooked green peas
¼ – ½ cup of cashews, broken and toasted in a spot of ghee
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1. Cook the rice and keep aside to cool. When the rice is boiling, add the boiled chickpeas and fresh green peas towards the end such that everything cooks through with the rice.
2. While the rice is cooking, blend the coriander and fenugreek leaves along with salt and the green chillies, if using to make a thick paste. Now bring a tablespoon of oil to heat in a large pan. When the oil is hot, sputter the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Add the green paste and cook for several minutes until it becomes fairly dry and turns a bright green. Adjust salt if needed. Remove from flame.
3. Now add the rice, chickpeas, green peas and toasted cashews into the pan and toss gently until the green paste coats the rice.
4. Serve hot or at room temperature.