Story of the Pulao

A female member of my extended family, who hails from a different community, has never made bones about her dislike for this side of the family. I had the misfortune of being at her place, when a senior member of the family departed for her heavenly abode.

This lady is blessed with wealth and a lot of domestic help. But Scrooge was put to shame that afternoon. Despite the huge bags of Basmati (a variety of fragrant, long-grained rice) stored in her attic, she ordered her servant to go buy some cheap rice for the ‘minions’ from this family (her in-laws).

Here started the story of the Pulao (a type of pilaff cooked with fragrant whole spices and vegetables). I casually mentioned that there were some tasty leftovers in the fridge, which could be served as accompaniments to the pulao.

“No”, was the diktat. “Only pulao.”

The pulao was served on the table in disposable plates with plastic spoons. The fragrance of clarified butter and whole spices permeated the room, as everyone dug into their plates after a busy morning. Alas, the cheap, tasteless rice was a let-down with the grains sticking to each other. The plastic cutlery battled the journey of morsels to the mouth, and a few pieces cracked up in embarrassment. People left the table on some pretext or another. The cook who had followed all the right procedures stood red-faced in a corner.

Her negativity had permeated every morsel of food on the table. I knew why a guru had recommended that the best food cooked in the world is by yourself, your mother and then your partner, in that order. Wholesomeness needs every ingredient to be right, including the love poured into cooking.


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