Chapter 11 – Khushka-qurma

“While Sundays are usually reserved for preparation of elaborate lunches in other homes, most Muslim homes chose Fridays. Friday was the day when women deliberated about cooking something special. Tahera usually made biryani on Fridays because it had seemed simplest but her heart lurched at the thought of making biryani now. If the food they ate were to reflect her state of mind, she would have made tasteless, bland dal every day.”

 

For the rice – Khushka

Onion – 1, sliced thinly

Whole garam masalas

Mint leaves

Thinly sliced carrots and beans or peas

Ginger garlic paste – 1/2 tsp

Oil

Rice – 2 cups

Salt – to taste

Water – 4 1/2 cups

 

Wash the rice and soak it in water for a while. In a deep bottomed vessel, heat the oil, add the whole garam masalas and then the sliced onions. Keep stirring until they turn translucent. Once they’re starting to brown, add the ginger garlic paste and then stir in the vegetables and the mint leaves. Continuing sauteeing for a little more while. Add the water and once it starts boiling, add the rice. Let it cook uncovered until the rice grains start puffing up. Once they’re almost cooked, lower the flame and cook covered until steam rises from the rice. Keep aside.

 

Qurma

Mutton- 1/2 kg

Onions  – 2 medium sized, chopped

Tomatoes  – 3 large, pureed

Whole garam masalas

Potatoes – 2 peeled and cut into chunks

Yoghurt – 2 tbsp

Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Salt – to taste

Coriander leaves – a handful

Oil

Coconut paste – 1 1/2 tbsp

 

Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add the whole garam masalas and the chopped onions. Stir until they start turning translucent. When they begin to brown, add the ginger garlic paste and stir well. Add the cleaned and washed mutton pieces and stir a bit. Add the red chilli powder, the salt and the yoghurt. Allow the mutton to be seared in the masalas. Keep stirring. When the mutton has lost its raw pinkness, add the pureed tomatoes and mix well. Add the potatoes and cook until oil starts leaving the sides of the cooker. Add the coconut paste an the chopped coriander leaves and mix well. Add water to adjust the thickness and close the lid of the pressure cooker. After around 3 or 4 whistles, switch off the gas. Open the cooker and stir the qurma. Serve with the khushka.

 

 

Tahera’s epiphany that life has to go on even without the love and presence of her husband, comes to her much after she has alienated her daughter. Many readers have expressed to me that they find Tahera’s attitude towards Zubi, heartless and cold. But I do entreat them to understand that Tahera refused to see herself as a mother first. She put her own feelings and emotions above those of her children and seriously, why is that hard to understand? Tahera knows her responsibilities as a mother but her feelings as a woman take precedence. And why shouldn’t they? Motherhood is amazing, and is often deified, but let’s not forget that before she became a mother, she was a woman, who loved a man. A man who is no more. Chapter 11, with both Tahera and Zubi in the kitchen as they make khuskha-qurma for a Friday lunch, shows Tahera taking the first steps towards normalcy and even bonding with her daughter. 

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