My Dad is about to get up for tahajjud.
The day was rather "bitter-sweet".
I made karelay (bitter melon) for the first time in my life. My Dad had been "mentioning" it for days. Apparently, its a food that's used to control sugar, and that's the primary reason why he was after me to make it someday.
That day was today.
I went out and drove to the sabzi wala - brought 1/2 kg karelay. Then, came back and waited for electricity to come back so that I could hunt up a recipe for cooking it. This was 12 ish am. Light came back late :(. Khair, hunted for the recipe. Found it. Set about to peel the karelay and er, clean them. Then they had to be salted and kept away for 20 minutes, so that they would um, shoo away the bitterness.
Sigh sigh sigh. Cutting them and cleaning them was no easy task. Next time I saw the clock, I was wet through and through (it was a hot day), and it showed me : 12.45. Which meant, I had stood in the kitchen for 45 minutes, just using a knife/potatoe peeler and my nails. If only somebody had told me that cleaning karelas does NOT mean, trying to pick out the seeds individually and prying them out with your nails.
Anyway, finally they were cleaned. I set them aside for 20 minutes, and hurriedly put on rice, and daal too (my backup in case karelas failed, which seemed a lil likely at the point).
After 20 minutes, I washed them and put them under the fan (to no effect). If only somebody had told me that we're supposed to squeeze them with our hands to get all the water out.
I browned the onions till then, added masala, and tomatoes and then hesitantly put the karelas in. Well, mixed the whole thing together, and then added a little water for the karelas to cook. Meanwhile, rice and daal were made. Then had to make brownies for some guests who were coming today.
Allll that (and a good 2.5 hours) later, our domestic servant came and she sat down to drink tea. I served her some karelay and asked her nervously, what should be improved in it. She couldn't swallow it !!
Er, she really tried. And she really tried to be nice about it. And what was my halat when I saw her struggling-to-be-gentle-about-the-bitter-karelay face?
Anyway, I dolefully took the plate of uneaten karelay back to the pot, and then gave her a brownie. She loved it!
Later, when Dad came, and I served lunch, I mentioned casually: You know what Dad? I made karelay today.
Him *all excited*: Wowww! Wheree?? **looking expectantly around the table**
Me: *trying not to make my voice wobble*: Actually, it's a tragedy. They didn't turn out well.
Him: Whaat? How? Who said?
Me: *told whole sad tale*
Him: *very kindly*: Okay, just bring some and let me try it.
I tried to dissuade him. I really really did. He just wouldn't listen. So I brought some karelay out on a bowl and gave that to him.
Now, he took a bite. I looked anxiously on. And then he said: It's amazing!
Me: *gave him a stop-trying-to-be-nice-to-me-look*
Him: It really really is. There is always some bitter taste in karelas. That's why they're karelas!! And you know, they're really good for sugar control!
*started eating karelas araam se*
At the moment, I was like:
It was real. He wasn't faking it. My karelas weren't a huge failure after all!!
Then, in the evening, after my much-needed afternoon nap, Mum came into my room (she had been out for the morning). She said: Those karelas are awesome. You know, my family relative [forgot who] used to cook like that.
Me: *stunned again*.
Later on. Chotpo was like: These karelas are really really good. Have some daal and some karelay and you won't even feel an ounce of bitterness in this.
Finally, I tasted them. Lolz. They really weren't that bad. I guess cooking them for a loooong time paid off. Poor domestic servant.
So the end was actually sweet of the whole "bitter experience" :D
1. When you got nothing to do in life, make karelay. Perfect ones.
2. Don't take just one opinion on your work.
3. Don't get too dejected on just one opinion on your work.
4. Believe in the power of the mind, the stove and the.. salt.
5. Keep a backup. Always.
6. Thank Allah for the blessings we have - and for the food on our tables.
So long folks!