First Cold and Comfort

Sassi fell ill two nights ago with her first cold ever. I am typing this out with tears in my eyes as she’s latched on to me, suckling in her sleep. I can hear her breathing.

Sickness always summons the need for comfort. So I rummaged through memories just for that.


Okay all of the above was typed over a week ago. Needless to say I’ve not only been juggling an unwell child with the rest of my life, I ended up catching it myself as well as cooked up a storm (okay half a storm) for our annul Christmas Lunch* that I have proudly resumed post the advent of Sassi!

However in addition to Christmas…

This past week was sponsored by multiple bottles of Norsaline P, the high and mighty Nose Frida, the good old Zyrtec and the fresh off the boat packing a punch Jardin P (or was it D?).

She is finally feeling a little better only after successfully giving it all to both Faisal and I.

Now let me be very clear here. In this household there are two people who get the “Man Flu”. The Man. And The Woman. I think our child was the most patient survivor of cold I could’ve imagined. Everything (even the two hourly snot-sucking marathons for days at end) paled in comparison to what Faisal and I do. We are not just lifeless on a couch, we also whine to powers unknown. Our (unwell) child looking at us quizzically aa she continued playing and dancing through sickness.

Romping through memory lane, jarred by her first PROPER illness and my umpteenth one all crashing down on me together I was wading in the dark for something to lean on, when comfort came back to me as Tehri. It is a North Indian dish (also known as Tahiri) with turmeric stained rice and potatoes. Different versions flaunt different inclusions. I’ve also been exposed to fancier versions loaded with tiny meatballs (moti koftas quite literally meaning pearl meatballs) and sliced soft boiled eggs as a garnish. Some also add peas to the mix.

However the very basic version has my heart in a fist and comfort at the tip of my tongue.

It is quite simply one with only potatoes, complemented by green chutney (coriander and mint) topped with a dollop of pure ghee (clarifies butter).

Over the years I do most of it by eyeballing the proportions but I’ll give this a try.

One tablespoon each of ground ginger and garlic, plus one medium sized onion and 2 tomatoes. Grind it to a paste in the blender.

Fry a finely chopped small- medium sized onion and once it browns a bit, add 3-4 medium sized potatoes (chopped preferably large) and fry it for a bit until they change colour.

Now add the blended Tomato paste to it. Add half a teaspoon turmeric (yes we are heavy handed like that) and half a teaspoon red chilli powder (yeah we are quite floozies like that).

Keep cooking it till the aromatics release and the oil surfaces.

Add half kg rice (approximately) and cook a bit before adding water.

Once rice changes colour and gets a tad toasty, now just add enough water for it to soften. Place two green chillies and add some salt to taste.

Cover it and leave over a low flame for 15-20 minutes until the rice and potatoes are done.

The Coriander and Mint chutney technically has green chillies in it too. I skip those because of Faisal. Take a bunch of coriander and equal amounts of mint. Add a dollop of ground garlic or half a garlic properly pealed and cleaned. Also add some Black salt and dry toasted and finely ground cumin. Add some normal salt to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice. Whirr it in the blender. Add some water if it refuses to budge but not too much. You don’t want it too runny.

One bite and I was transported to Ammi’s lap. The recurring fevers and sore throats. All soothed by piping hot Tehri and a lot of tough love for don’t ever be mistaken. My grandma wasn’t one for mollycoddling.

Darn I miss you Ammi. I can’t believe Sassi missed seeing you by just a few years. Maybe you’re back AS her. Since she pronounces “Fan” as “fine”. Yup. I think it’s you.

I love you.

*The Christmas lunch deserves a separate post altogether but let’s just say, I managed to off load most of the food prep to one of our latest favourite home based caterers and just kept a few things to myself. It was still a super hit but won’t take too much away from it’s own dedicated post.


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