Oh, the advantages of being pregnant! When you’ve loaded your shopping basket with as many fruit and vegies as you possibly could carry and join the queue at the payment counter, the people in magnanimously make way for you to move right to the front. Even the tottering white-haired uncle in front you insists you take the counter before him. How sweet is that!
Then, the odd day when your hubby has an important meeting and the Ola and Uber apps on your phone are down and you have to necessarily take an auto to your son’s school to discuss something with his teacher and all you need to do is to walk to the road and any auto is willing to take you to your destination without the customary haggling over the payment. “Neenga ipdi irukeenga…evlo correcta thonardho kudunga madam,” says the auto driver (You’re pregnant…pay me whatever seems right to you).
And when you meet the teacher, she looks at you and exclaims, “Oh! Why did you come? We could have discussed this over phone!” And when the discussion is over, she quickly scribbles a small sloka on a piece of paper and hands it over to you saying, “Say this sloka often, it will keep your unborn child and you safe always.”
Suddenly, the whole world is really concerned about you. Everyone has some bit of advice to offer, in a good-natured way. Even that usually rude aunty in your apartment complex smiles a warm, genuine smile at you and enquires about your health. The whole world really is this caring and understanding community meant to nurture you and the being within you. Enjoy while this lasts!
But then, there is this other side to pregnancy too. Your mum’s taught you to make the most awesome rajma without onion or garlic and you want to take a picture of it, but you’re dead tired by the time you haul the dish and all the props to the backyard to set it up for the mandatory picture-for-the-blog. You somehow manage to set the stage and then find that it is impossible to bend to the right angle to get the shot you had in mind – your bigger-than-the-biggest-football tummy reminding you every minute to be careful! Perfect angle be damned – you’re so hungry and tired by the time the 30-odd minute ‘photo shoot’ is over, you’ve quickly shot whatever you can manage with your phone camera (as luck would have it, your SLR is under repair) and settle down right there to chomp down on the yummy rajma-chawal. After all, isn’t the rajma-chawal better off in your tummy than being a virtual temptation for the rest of the world?
Rajma – no onion, no garlic
Dried rajma (red kidney beans) – 250 gm
Bay leaf – 1
Cinnamon stick – 2 inch piece
Tomatoes – 4 large
Green cardamom – 1
Ginger – 2 inch piece
Red chillies – 2
Cloves – 1-2
Jeera – 1 tsp + ½ tsp
Garam masala – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Oil – 3 tsp
Chopped coriander leaves -1 tsp (for garnish)
Salt, to taste
Soak the kidney beans in water overnight or for 6 hours at least
Drain the water and pressure-cook the kidney beans with the bay leaf and cinnamon stick in enough water to cover the beans by an inch. It normally takes three or four cooker whistles plus another ten minutes on simmer for the beans to cook. Let cool before removing from the cooker. The beans should be soft and turn mushy when squeezed between your fingers
Puree the tomatoes along with the ginger, red chillies, cardamom, cloves and 1 tsp jeera
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed kadhai/pan and add 1/2 tsp jeera
Add the garam masala and turmeric powder into the oil and immediately add the tomato puree
Let the puree cook till it leaves the sides of the pan, say fifteen minutes
Add the cooked beans at this stage along with some of the cooking water and salt and cook till it comes to a boil
Reduce the heat to a simmer, add additional water as required (the water from cooking the beans, if left) and cook till the gravy is thick enough and homogeneous
Remove from heat. Add chopped coriander and serve