The pain and loss are heartrending. An entire community exiled in its own country. The anguish and the hurt, but no mention of this chapter of our recent history. Of brutality and savageness inflicted on Kashmiri Pandits whose only fault was, there was nothing to fault in them. Of human and political callousness at its worst. Targeted and hounded as infidels. Our Moon Has Blood Clots is shocking. It is the true story of Rahul Pandita, now a renowned journalist, the Kashmiri Pandit community, his parents, extended family and his cousin Ravi, his hero.
History forgotten is bound to be repeated, and Rahul Pandita is brave in his writing. His father is my hero. In the toughest of situations in his childhood he guided the author to stay on the right path. His mother is brave, struggling on a daily basis to keep the family going, when they are driven out of their huge home that her husband built with every penny of his savings, and have to live as refugees, shunted from room to room. Her health deteriorates. There is so much trauma. In happier times she used to hum a lovely song from the film Awaara where Nargis wishes that the moon would turn its face away so that she could love Raj Kapoor.
I’m posting a recipe of Chana ki dal from Krishna Prasad Dar’s book Kashmiri Cooking. He is the father of cartoonist Sudhir Dar. They are Kashmiri Pandits too.
Krishna Prasad Dar writes, Kashmiri Pandits prefer to use asafoetida and curd in their cooking as opposed to onions and garlic. But with outside influences, people today do use onion and garlic too. In this recipe he keeps the onion optional, but I did add an onion to my dal and it tasted very good. Have this dal with a vegetable dish, Indian breads, a curd dish and a sweetmeat to make a full meal. The Kashmiri Pandits, although they are Brahmins are great meat eaters.
Here is the recipe for Yellow Split Lentils or Bengal Gram or Chana ki Dal
Chana ki Dal or Bengal Gram Dal
- 150 gms bengal gram or chana dal
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, crushed
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 10-15 gms ghee or clarified butter
- 1 onion finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 tspn sauf or fennel seeds
- 2 cloves
- A pinch of asafoetida
- Some fresh or dried mint leaves, finely chopped if fresh
- A little jaggery
- Salt to taste
- Soak the bengal gram dal in water for an hour or two.
- Drain the water from the dal and put it in a pressure cooker. Add salt to taste and pressure cook for two to three whistles. When you open the cooker the dal should still have grains but they should be soft. Most of the water should have evaporated.
- Add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water to the dal. Add the turmeric powder, crushed fresh ginger and ginger powder and slow cook for a few minutes.
- In a frying pan, heat the ghee. Add the chopped onions and fry till golden brown. Add the cloves, asafoetida and fennel seeds. Fry for a few seconds.
- Overturn the fried onions with the ghee and spice tadka onto the dal. Sprinkle the mint leaves and add a little jaggery. Stir the dal. Serve hot.
There are many versions of the song Imagine but this particular version by Eva Cassidy strikes a heart touching chord.