Independance day sambar

 I am making the simple sambar

 simple to those who know how to

like the tamil cook from the vegetarian hotel

near my home

who can make sambar in his sleep

 The vegetables are a strange assortment

 You must put in ones that won’t

mind the presence of the others

 or at least will tolerate it

 The dal goes in at the bottom

 like the feeling of Indianess

 among Indians.

 The yams, the religiously itchy, tough ones

 must be tossed in first

 then the softer, easy -to- mash ones

 like carrots, beans ,eggplants

 potatoes and onions

 like unity, integrity, faith

brotherhood and beliefs

 all must be cut into similar shapes, sizes

 so that none can bully the others

 and all get cooked evenly

 like in our nice schools

 flavoured by salt and turmeric

that like patriotism must seep

 and mollify the jarring, individual tones

 finally the softest ones, okra and tomatoes

go in at the top

 if you want them to

 or die waiting in the refrigerator basket

 pretty much like decency and self-respect.

 The tamarind paste, undoubtedly a hallmark feature

 like the tanginess of bonglish, manglish, and

others we relish

The asafetida, the curry leaves, the sambar powder

 must be added as and when you please

 like our impeccable manners

when asked to stand in queues and wait.

 Then you must boil the holy hell out of

all these wholesome greens

 The humble sambar is now ready

 Come, dunk in your dosas and idlis

 and learn how to eat this country.

©Reena Prasad

15th August 2012


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