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Friday, 26 August 2011

Desynchronosis-ized Cholè

I have jet-lag. Grave jet-lag.

I’ve never had it this bad before, but then I’ve never travelled this far before. So I suppose there is some justice in the world.

Still, I am new to grave jet-lag. I look it up on the trusty Wikipedia and this is what it tells me:

"Jet lag, medically referred to as desynchronosis, is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body's circadian rhythms; it is classified as one of the circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Jet lag results from rapid long-distance transmeridian (east–west or west–east) travel, as on a jet plane.”

Hmm. Yeah. Wonder who put that piece of genius together. On a separate note, I recently read that aerodrome is no longer a word. Man, my grandmother will be gutted.

Anyway, I digress.

So I am back home. And I am jet-lagged. Gravely so.

People tell me that I am “very brave,” running rampant all over the world with a baby. Really? Isn’t the world meant to be run rampant over, baby or no baby? It’s been no different than before, frankly. Just a LOT more fun. The only thing I can’t do anymore is dance naked on random bar tables. I miss that terribly you know. A baby changes everything.

But on a serious note (not that I was even remotely joking about dancing naked on random bar tables...) what takes courage - baby or no baby - is fighting this said “desynchronosis” which has seized and successfully taken control of our lives in its steel-like grip ever since we’ve been back.

We sleep all day and attempt to sleep all night. And so our days are dull and our nights? Ha – our nights would put the vampires to shame.  Circa 3am, I am in the kitchen stuffing my face, so ravenous that my stomach is about to eat itself; Sid is on the dining table, his nose deep in “paperwork,” sipping his coffee like it’s 10am on a Sunday morning; and poor old Ranbir is howling in bed, confounded that we’ve imprisoned him in his dark bedroom when it’s actually the exact time to roll round and round in the sand until his little body is virtually covered in the powdery, golden grains. Then he crawls like a little sand animal and sits down in-between my knees, waiting for the ocean to roll in gently and wash the sand clean off. Then of course, we repeat the exercise over and over again with the same heightened level of excitement and glee.

Do you blame the little guy for not wanting to sleep?

I’ve been telling him that the sun and the moon have got it all wrong; that they’re toying with him for kicks. Somehow he doesn’t seem to believe me.


Of course on the flip side, it’s nice to be home and attempt to sleep (attempt, being the operative word) on your own linen, albeit with its meager double-digit thread count. At least it’s your own. And London Cotton’s not so bad really. Anyway, it’s sweet to be home.  Hee!

And of course, the other classic post-holiday phenomenon is the intense craving for home food. The duller, the better.  Dull and tasty are not mutually exclusive by the way. Dull can be exceedingly tasty, it’s simply not exotic. But after weeks of exotic eating, dull is welcome. Verily so.

It also helps when one is gravely jet-lagged. Jet-lag (the grave kind) and exotic food don’t really happen, you see. But dull food is essential these days. It’s the stuff I stuff my face with when I’m stuffing it at 3am.

It’s Punjabi Cholè. My way. With secret ingredients and all. Here’s what you need:

- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- Fistful of channa dal (secret ingredient part one :)
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp Chili powder
- 2 tbsp Cholè masala (I use Badshah or MTR, you’ll find it in any Indian Store)
- 3 tbsp tamarind chutney (secret ingredient part deux :)
- 1 cardamom, the big, black kind
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Salt, to taste

Here’s how you do it:

Soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight.  Drain the water and place the soaked chickpeas and the channa dal in the pressure cooker. Add enough water in the cooker to completely submerge all the lentils. Now add the chopped onion (raw), cardamom and cinnamon sticks to the mix. It’s the combination of the onion and the channa dal that makes the “gravy” in the finished product, resulting in a thick, creamy, hearty dish. Cause really, there’s nothing worse than watery cholè. Nothing except “desynchronosis,” that is.

Anyway, bring the pressure cooker to 2 whistles on medium heat, and then continue to cook for about 30 minutes more on very low heat.  Allow all the steam to escape before opening the pressure cooker. You should be able to smell the fantastic warm aroma of the cinnamon/cardamom now. Check to make sure the chickpeas are fully cooked to a soft, buttery consistency. If so, add minced ginger, chili powder, chole masala and salt directly into the cooker and mix well. Finish off with adding the tamarind chutney – it’s my secret ingredient and gives a fantastic tart kick to the dish that works wonderfully with the heat of the dry chili and chole masalas. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes on low heat until all the flavours are as muddled up as my brain at the current moment, taking care to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.

I’m way too sleep deprived to be bothered this time, but please go ahead and garnish with a handful of cilantro (dhania) leaves, washed and chopped. Dhania, as you know, is magic.

That’s it. Cholè ready. It’s good stuff. Mind-numbingly dull. But oh so good. A comforting, wholesome, hearty, one-pot meal. And by the way, to all my size-zero friends who sent me emails moaning about how they gained 5kgs after making my butter chicken (I don’t kid), please note that I have used zero, zip, nada, fat in this recipe. Not one blooming drop of oil. Ha.

Try it, please.

So, yeah its midnight now (according to the clock, not my brain) and I’m so wide awake my eyes don’t fit in my face anymore. Sigh.

I go back to Wikipedia is see if it offers any more nuggets of wisdom on the topic, in a language I actually understand. I am happy to report that it does. I come away with hope in my heart.

“The condition of jet lag may last several days, and a recovery rate of one day per time zone crossed is a fair guideline…”

We crossed 1-2-3-4-5-6 time zones. It’s been 3 days. 3 to go. Halfway home. Zzzz.

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