Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jai Hindh!

Photo from the Washington Post

India celebrates 60 years of independence today. Whee! Viva India! It's hard to believe that a country as ancient as India has only been free from colonial power, running on her own steam, for 60 years. I mean, my dad is older than 60. I'm sure a bunch of you have parents who are 60+!

That concept of time made me think. We so often only think of right NOW, or dream of our future. But when you look back, that sense of perspective is so shocking! For example, African-Americans only earned the right to vote 40 years ago. WHAT? We think that we are such a different people now, that we've progressed so much, that we're in such a different place, where that kind of discrimination doesn't happen, where cries of "that's racist!" are brushed under the carpet and labelled inflammatory... FOURTY YEARS people. I'm nearly thirty for goodness' sake. And then Don Imus gets his radio show back, and people wonder why other people are pissed about it. "Progress".

Here's a list of things that were happening around the same time as India was fighting for her independence (according to Wiki. Sorry, I am a laaazy historian):

- Pearl Harbor (1941)
- World War II ending (1945)
- The United Nations established (1945)
- The Arab-Israeli war (1948)
- The republic of Ireland came into being (1948)
- The Soviets tested their first nuclear bomb, which some see as the beginning of the Cold War (1949)

Ugh. The 40s sound fun, huh?

Anyway, back to a hopefully happier future! In addition to India's independence day, today also marks Elizabeth's 4th wedding anniversary (yeah Eli and Thomas!), and the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, a Catholic Day of Obligation. It's a big day in the Sequeira household!

To celebrate, I tackled a down-home favorite that I have dreaded trying: Whole dried chickpeas with coconut, jaggery and tamarind.

This one is a bit of a doozy because you have to buy these special chickpeas (Kala Channa, literally black chickpeas) from the Indian market, in addition to the jaggery (hardened cane sugar or palm sugar), the tamarind and the coconut. You have to soak the channa overnight, then boil it... you have to extract the pulp from the tamarind, and you have to figure out how sweet the jaggery is.

That last part I must admit was the easiest and most enjoyable because, um, you just eat it. And I haven't had jaggery in years... it made me feel like a little fat kid again, sneaking into the kitchen in search of something sweet around 4 in the afternoon while everyone was sleeping. Mum didn't buy any biscuits/cookies for us, because I was such a fattie so I would snack on the jaggery and get a wonderful smile on my face. :) PURE SUGAR GOODNESS!! Take that ma! ;)

Just kidding... I know she meant well. And whenever she DID buy biscuits, ooh boy did I inhale those suckas quick.

Ok, anyway, so I made the channa... and I must say that I am quite impressed with myself! Especially for figuring out a lot of the techniques on my own! I followed mum's recipe, but as my sisters can attest, mum's not very specific in her recipe-writing. There's a lot of "just boil the channa until it's cooked", and "take a small ball of tamarind" (small by whose standards?!)... and of course there's the joy of the surprise ingredient showing up in the instructions but not the ingredient list. It's funny though because I find myself falling into that same pattern now when I recite recipes... right Kuv?

I think it turned out deliciously, almost as good as mum makes it. Almost. Sigh.


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