While Karelas are not everyone’s favorite vegetables, I have some amazing memories of my granny associated with these channa dal stuffed karelas.
The channa dal stuffed karelas are a labour of love, but trust me, this is one recipe which will make even a I-do-not-like-Karela person into a Oh-but-this-is-a-great-way-to-eat-them person 🙂
I have said it over here many times before that food is 50% nostalgia and everything else comes in the rest of the 50% and a huge part of that nostalgia comes from one’s childhood. A lot of foods we crave and like are the foods we have grown up eating. The foods we have made happy memories from, in our formative years. For me. personally, a lot of food nostalgia comes from the memories of my granny (mom’s mum), badi mummy as we used to call her. While growing up, badi mummy was just a hop skip and jump away and most days I would be found in her house rather than our own readily getting spoilt rotten among my aunts, uncles and grandparents. It only helped that I was the first grandchild of the family 😉 I was really really close to badi mummy and if I have to believe my jealous cousins, she also loved me the most. Its been a little over 11 yrs we lost her one tragic evening but her memories in my mind are fresh. The conversations I used to have with her, the hugs, the way she used to talk using abuses liberally and of course, the food she used to cook. Her aloo paranthas were thin but full with stuffing. I don’t think I have eaten better aloo paranthas. Mum makes it well, my mami makes it well and honestly even I make it well, but nothing comes close to hers.
Another fond food memory I have associated with badi mummy is of samosas and jalebis bought from the nearby shop. When I was very small, we used to live very close to our nani’s house and I virtually used to live there, like I just said. We were about five kids living there together including my sisters and my uncle’s children and during summer vacations that number used to increase to a lot more with other cousins visiting. Every evening, badi mummy used to give us 2 rupees to eat something and that used to be bliss. In summers, they were often spent eating the thappa walla kulfi! Do u guys remember it? Gosh we used to be so crazy on how many kulfis we get! Honestly, even if the number increased, no matter that the size of the kulfi got smaller, but at that point in life, it was the number of kulfis which mattered the most 🙂 At the other times, it used to be samosas and jalebis. Gosh! I am addicted to those even today, and whenever I see a samosa, my mind starts plotting how to get a jalebi and I can never eat the two without thinking of badi mummy and missing her a teeny bit.
Another very strong food memory I have of hers is that of the Karelas yumm, stuffed Karelas. I have never eaten karelas the way she used to cook them, she used to stuff them with channa dal and spices and despite of having that slight bitterness we would go on eating them, even as kids. What pained me was that, the dish, kind of died in our family along with her. No one learnt how to make them from her, not even my mom who is a brilliant cook and loves cooking. So sometime ago when I was craving for them badly and missing badi mummy to an extent of not being able to focus on any work, I tried to recreate the magic in my kitchen. From the vivid memories of the karelas that I last ate may be 12 yrs ago, I tried to recreate them. Though I won’t say what I made was exactly what she used to but it gave me this warm and fuzzy feeling as if she is sitting right next to me, passing me one of her cozy hugs after which all used to be better in this world.
Badi mummy I still miss you, always will.
This channa dal stuffed karelas taste awesome with the Dhabe wali Punjabi dal.
Recipe – Channa Dal and Raw Mango Stuffed Karelas.
Source – Memories of my granny.