What follows is a recipe for a perfect “Uruka” (with emphasis on the “perfect”), and for all the people who raise their eyebrows on the mention of the word perfect, well, I refute the fact that perfection does not exist. For me, perfection is a state of mind (more on that on later posts). And well, although I’ll try to keep it as generic as possible, this might have a tendency towards being overtly “Oxomiya-Oxomiya” (it being Uruka and all), and so anybody wanting to get into the specifics should get in touch with me. Well, here goes….
Preparation time: Could take years (check the list of ingredients and method of preparation to understand full meaning).
Cooking time: One whole evening and part of the night.
Ingredients: One family (whole, warm and close-knit), one family from the next door (the older the neighbor-ship, the better), loads of food (details mentioned again in the method of preparation), a fireside and most importantly, laughter (to taste, though I suggest loads of it).
Method of preparation:
- Take a “pretending-to-be-disgruntled-but-not-actually-disgruntled” Controller of Examinations of a Central University back from office tired with parts of his mind still working on the thoughts of the upcoming Convocation looming on his head, take one daughter back from an eight hour long journey at the end of her wits, take one mother who’s the ever beaming beacon of happiness and loud laughter whenever need be, and one grandmother who’s cool enough to go watch the cricket match between India and Sri Lanka after her job of making the makeshift “chulha” in the verandah is done. Keep the fire burning, and make sure the firewood is in one place. Put the father in the cook’s place in front of the “chulha”, and the initially grumbling daughter as the aide. Let the mother happily bubble in the kitchen with other things to do.
- While the CoE (the father, henceforth to be mentioned as the Cook of Event) fries the fish, let the daughter prepare everything else that the CoE needs to cook (this is to ensure that the place does not look like an aftermath of a battle once the cooking is done) and the mother run between the verandah and the kitchen providing stuff to both father and daughter.
- Add in now the constant babbling of the daughter (by this time she’s back to her form, and should be capable of not keeping her mouth shut a single minute), and slowly pour in the songs. Start with the latest hits from the daughter with the CoE going “daridadda” along with her (these fit in to any tune that’s sung afterall), and then pour in old favorites that invariably end up as family chorus.
- Now for the food (mind you this involves the actual chicken recipe typical to the CoE, so the ones not interested in the food bit may skip this step). Make the CoE heat oil in a frying pan balanced precariously over a tripod which in turn is balanced over the fire, and put in curry leaves, tender lemon leaves, chopped onions and green chilies. Then make him take chicken which is marinated in mustard oil, salt, turmeric powder, onion, garlic, ginger and a little cumin powder sprinkled in, and pour into hot oil. Let him keep frying it till completely dry (don’t forget that the faster the songs the faster the ladle moves). Once completely dry, make him pour hot water to let the chicken cook and simmer in it until desired consistency and taste is achieved. Finishing touch is a pinch of freshly ground pepper and garam masala. In the meantime, let the mother prepare typical Assamese fish “tenga” with tomato and freshly chopped coriander in the kitchen on the gas and yet another fish dish baked with grated coconut and mustard paste in the microwave (let the contrast be duly noted). And while the CoE keeps blowing at his increasingly burning hands, let the daughter coolly peel oranges for the salad.
- To complete the picture, let the only member of the family not physically present there (owing to her being married AND getting a new job in faraway Bangalore, keeping her away from her husband in Kolkata…tsk tsk tsk!) give a phone call at that very moment, and talk to the whole family. This is to ensure that nothing is left to be desired in the “perfect” Uruka. Let the cheery chat ensuing the phone call float in the air for some time.
- Add in a colorful salad (not at all relevant but I had to add it in, considering the effort I put into it) with everything grated, mixed with orange pulp and dressed with more chopped coriander, decorated in a glass bowl lined with cabbage leaves, to bring color to the by now loaded dining table, and now bring in the next door family.
- Arrange “murha”s around the fireside and toss in all the ingredients together (the food, the families, and the laughter). Perfect Uruka is ready. Serve with generous helpings of smiles, and humor on the side.