| She masters the
One night, I snuck
with Madhu to her quarters just before dinner and we watched
her mother prepare chapattis. She squatted in front of
a fire outside and patted flour and water into a tortilla,
making a rhythmic and lulling sound. When she looked at
me and smiled I felt a wave of warmth and love sweep through
me. I was moved by her radiant beauty. She said something
in Hindi and handed me a clump of the mixture and showed
me what to do. The smell was wonderful and the white flour
on my hands felt great. I was in Heaven.
As I slowly began
to master the art of making a good chapatti, dusk became
night and stars appeared over us. Madhu's mother looked
over at my expression and smiled again, saying something
to her daughter that caused her daughter to smile as well.
It was a warm night and I think it was the first time
I noticed what it was like to embrace the Natural cycle
of daylight and darkness. We were all outside without
electricity. And by not illuminating our surroundings
with artificial light, there was a sense of connectedness
I hadn't yet experienced. It was pure and natural. It
After that first incident,
I snuck back to Madhu's quarters for my pre-dinner chapattis
on a semi-regular basis. The butler would ring a bell
for us outside when it was dinner time, and I'd run around
the back of the quarters, trying to make it look like
I was coming from somewhere else. One night, when I had
eaten too many chapattis and had no appetite for dinner,
my mother casually mentioned that I might not eat elsewhere
first. She knew! And she hadn't said anything. I loved
her for that.
never forgot her...
Just before we
left New Delhi, I found out that Madhu's parents were
negotiating an arranged marriage for her. I was in shock
and in despair. I asked her if she knew the boy in question.
She shook her head "no." I asked her if she was scared.
She nodded "yes." I got angry. I told her that marriage
in the West involved loving someone first. I tried to
offer another point of view. I didn't realize she had
no option. And thinking back on it, maybe I made things
cried when we drove away for the last time, wondering
what would become of her life. I think about Madhu a
lot. I think about a picture my father took of the two
of us on our bikes in the driveway. And I think about
what an amazing experience that was, sharing myself
with someone I would otherwise never have known. I think
about the magic we brought to each other's lives.
I hope she's well
and that she's happy. I wonder, did she ever come to
love her husband? How many children did she have? And
I imagine her making chapattis over a hot fire, just
like her mother did, only this time in her very own
| Mmmm, Chapattis!
Join Johanna and
Madhu in their love for real, homemade chapattis. Try
out the following tasty recipe!
- 8 oz/225 g chappati flour
-or-4 oz/115 g wheatmeal flour mixed with 4 oz/115
g plain flour
- additional flour for dusting
- 8 fl oz of water (or less)
Put the flour in
a bowl. Slowly add enough water so that you will be
able to gather the flour together and make a soft dough.
You may need about 21/2 tbs. less than 8 fl oz water.
Knead the dough for 7 to 8 minutes or until it is smooth.
Make a ball and put it inside a bowl. Cover the bowl
with a damp cloth and set it aside for half an hour.
If the dough looks
very runny, flour your hands and knead for another few
minutes. Form twelve equal balls and dust each with
a little flour. Keep them covered.
Set a cast-iron
griddle or frying pan to heat over a medium-low flame.
Allow at least 5 minutes for that. Keep about a cup
of dusting flour near you. Remove a ball of dough and
flatten it between the palms of your hands. Dust it
on both sides with flour. Roll it out as thinly and
evenly as you can, aiming for 51/2 inch/14-cm round.
When the griddle is hot, slap the chapatti on to its
heated surface. Cook for about a minute or until soft
bubbles begin to form. Turn the chapatti over. (Most
Indians use their hands to do this.) Cook for half a
minute on the second side. If you have a gas cooker,
light a second burner on a medium flame and put the
chapatti directly on it. Using tongs with rounded ends,
rotate the chapatti so that all areas are exposed to
the shooting flames. Take 5 seconds to do this. Turn
the chapatti over and repeat for about 3 seconds. The
chapatti should puff up. Put the chapatti on a plate
and cover with a clean tea towel. If you have an electric
stove, place the griddle and chapatti under a grill
for a few seconds until the chapatti puffs up. Serve
hot. Makes 12.
cooks eastern veggie...
above recipe was taken from Madhur Jaffrey's delicious
book entitled Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. Jaffrey, a
famous British food guru, is also a travellin' woman.
Although an expert in Indian cuisine, Jaffrey's research
has taken her all over the world. She's collected recipes
from the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, Japan,
Thailand, and more.
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