Friday, December 17

Dal, Not Boring

Vir Sanghvi's Rude Food is part of my reading staple most weekends. To get to it is not always a cakewalk though: one has to negotiate other HT Brunch features that are often hopelessly inane. Of course, Shri Sanghvi himself, his broad repertoire on his sleeve, is capable of giving any self-respecting foodie more than enough cud to chew. Frequently, his fare is extravagantly esoteric in choice of subject and idiom, more daunting than delectable for the average seasoned traveler. Yet, when confining himself to playing patron vs patronizing, his entrée does justice to his vaunted gourmand credentials - even the pungency of his strong opinions tickles the buds and makes for mild intellectual exercise appropriate for Sunday mornings. In either case, the studiedly exclusivist stance is unmistakable.

This week though, Rude Food was positively brilliant. It swung the spotlight on humble, ubiquitous Dal, justly extolling its virtues as the quintessential Indian dish. As Singhvi points out, though content to play second fiddle to other offerings, the Dal does not suffer from lack in variety. All forms of Indian cuisine profess a version and each civilization coming into contact with it has added to options. At one level it is in fact quite interesting how hard put you would be to find Dal oriented eateries when you think how every household carries its individual specimen; and even the occasional cook's experiments have enriched its pantheon. (My mother for instance, not much given to adventurism in the kitchen, still cooks a memorable Dal, and so one would suspect for assorted mothers, spouses and chefs of varying culinary expertise across the Nation!)

However, there is one facet that Shri Singhvi barely scratches the surface on - owing perhaps to his proclivity for intellectual snobbery, or simply his relative munificence. This is the continued spiral of rising Dal prices and its clearly deleterious consequences on household budgets (one speaks from personal experience of course). In fact, this has worried no less than the RBI, going by the commentary in its Q2 FY11 Monetary Policy Review. Well merited as it may be, it is too early in the weekend to attempt this fuller discussion tonight! Let me therefore leave that for later – perhaps tomorrow, after being fortified with my ritual Sat khichdi lunch :)


Anonymous said...

Loved this one, dude -- and I have a good mind to send the link to my mum especially as you talk of the pull of ma-ki-dal -- though she will ask me to pack up and come back home immediately :)

The inflation bit in your post(s) is no doubt important too -- I just continue to be amazed at the rebound in desi real estate prices -- perhaps you should put that Economicswala wit to figure out how much of that is 'real' next!