Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mothering or Smothering

It's true that one can learn from children. I knew about this 4 years ago when Ananya was born. I learnt to recognise when she was still hungry (even after a 20 minute feed-time limit prescribed by my doc) and when she was full after 8 minutes too. And she was the perfect baby- nursed well, slept well, played well.

So, why is it that 3 years later I am wondering what went wrong? Why is it that I am obsessed about her eating each meal well at the right time? And when am I going to be able to let go and let her start learn the meaning of hunger and learn to eat by herself? Because its high time she started, given that neither of us has the time to spend 4 hours a day feeding her.

So what if a couple of meals that she hasn't eaten well translate to an immediate and obvious loss of weight. Yes, I know I needn't worry if she is active and cheerful. Why am I still feeling guilty each time I try to enforce the "eat by yourself" rule?

And why is it that a lot of kids her age are still being fed by parents/grandparents/nannies? I sit because we don't know how to change eating habits of our children or is it something we do to pass time so we can justify to ourselves about how caring/busy we are? Isn't it time we really started living for ourselves and not for our children?

And how on earth can we expect them to learn how to eat by themselves if we don't let go? Didn't you let go of your baby when he or she was starting to crawl, walk, run, go to school? It is heartbreaking to see your baby stumble, fall and cry. But its equally heartwarming to see her tears dry up in a minute and start all over again.

I think I feel clearly now, that I really want Ananya to be independent and not have to worry about her food habits. Its time I let go of her so she can start her new activity and learn by herself. So sweetheart, its time for your new lesson. You have no idea how difficult it is going to be for me not to spoon up your lunch and feed it to you, when you return tired and sleepy from school. But I am going to persevere. And I know you are going to learn really well, lovely child, that you are.

And this is also a lesson for me. To let go. And to live for myself.

Its Ganesh Chaturthi today and I am planning on making kozhakattai now. If it turns out well, will post the results. Jinny, Ananya and I went around our neighbourhood looking for some Ganesha idols in the morning and picked a nice clay idol. We decided its time we started celebrating some important festivals given that we have settled down in our current home, for now.

I am sharing one of Ananya's favourite meals, which I plan to make for dinner tonight.

Puri and Aloo (potato) gravy

Aloo gravy

This is one of my dad's favourite side dishes, but when we were growing up, my sister and I didn't quite appreciate it. But it's one of the easiest dishes to make, especially when you don't have must time and it can be served with puris, rotis and hot rice.

4-5 medium sized potatoes boiled, peeled and cubed
1 cup ripe tomatoes chopped fine
1/2 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds
1 tbsp dhania jeera powder (see below for recipe)
1 tsp haldi (turmeric) powder
1 tsp ground chilli powder
salt, oil
finely chopped coriander for garnish

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, fry jeera seeds, add the dhania jeera powder and fry for half a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes on a medium flame. Add the haldi and chilli powder, mix well. Then add the potatoes, half a cup of water (based on required consistency of gravy). Cook for another 5-7 minutes on a low flame. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Dhania-Jeera powder

1 measure dhania (coriander) seeds
1 measure jeera (cumin) seeds

Dry roast each separately till they just begin to turn colour. Cool and grind them to a coarse/fine powder and store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. I use this to flavour quite a few simple side dishes and my cook Seema makes it every week.


1 cup wheat flour
warm water
1/2 tsp salt
Oil to fry

Knead the flour with salt and warm water, add 1 tbsp hot oil, and knead to make a soft but still ball of dough. Keep aside covered with a mildly damp cloth for 10 minutes. Make small lemon sized balls, and roll out each to 2 inch diameter. Heat oil is a deep pan (kadai). Once you have rolled out about 7-8 of them, fry the puris till cooked and keep them on some paper towels to reduce the oil content in them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Third time lucky?

I have been trying to get started with a blog for quite some time. The first time was a year ago, with my sis urging me to start writing again. I gave in, not realising that what seemed easy 15 years back, became quite daunting now. So after I enthusiastically set it up and worked on my template for a long while, just to get that perfect look.... I let go, quite easily, I must say.

The second one, I began a few months ago, with my sister-in-law. This was supposed to be a collaborative project with anyone in the family contributing. Or so, thought Srid and me. 2 months down the line, there is just the one entry by Srid, borrowed from Steve Jobs. Thanks Steve.

So, we start again. So what should I write about? Should I restrict myself to a topic or two? Or let loose anything that comes to my mind. (note to myself: definitely not a good idea, given the randomness of my thoughts and inability to concentrate on any one topic at a time!)

While I ponder on that, let me go check on the milk boiling on the stove, on my way to open the door... maybe I should quickly check on whats happening with the cars at Chennai, did I check with Jin about when his flight lands? Should I get a pedicure done today?

Till I figure that out, I am going to post my mom's recipe for Idli Milagai podi... that I keep forgetting and end up having to ask her for every month. This way, I can always refer to it online.

Idli Milagai podi

1 tbsp white sesame seeds (til)
3 tbsp chana dal
3 tbsp urad dal
1 small piece hing
10-15 dried red chillies ( I usually use a mix of the ones we get in Bangalore that are great for colour and the spicy kashmiri chilli)
Coconut oil

Dry roast the til seeds till they just start turning red. Keep aside. Add 1 tsp of coconut oil and fry the hing. Keep aside, then adding a little more oil if required, roast separately the other ingredients. Cool and grind coarsely all, except til. Add til and salt and grind till you get the texture you desire. I personally, like it a little coarse.

Spice up your idli, dosai with a little powder and sesame oil. It probably even tastes good mixed with hot rice and ghee, have'nt tried that though.