It is amazing how food can evoke some very powerful emotions. Some of my most cherished childhood memories revolve around food - particularly that made by my Nani(maternal grandmother). If you are a Punjabi foodie like me you will understand what I mean. The inspiration to write this article came while preparing this beloved dish for my family.
For the uninitiated, Choori is basically a hot paratha mashed with generous amounts of ghee and sugar to make a mouthwatering dessert. You have missed something in life if you haven't had it. Yes it is VERY unhealthy - probably worse than a halwa, but who cares, it's Choori!
So here I am, making Choori in the kitchen, infusing it with love, ghee and sugar, all the time missing my Nani so much. This happens every time I prepare the dish - for she was the one who would make it for me and my siblings, roll it into nice, round laddoos and give one to each one of us. It was the highlight of our trips to her house. And if she would come to meet us, all of us would be eyeing the tiffin boxes in her hand - looking for our ladoos. She never came empty handed- ever. As you must have already guessed, she was a superb cook. She made the most awesome vegetarian Punjabi food, and there was always enough for anyone who wished to eat. Even on the day she died, she had hosted a lunch for all the daughters of the family and their husbands, knowing fully well that this was probably the last meal she would feed everyone.
My Nani was the most badass woman I know. There was nothing she couldn't do. She could weave, sew, embroider, crochet, knit, cook, pray, wash, clean, read palms, sing, dance, invest, save, small talk, empathise, advise - everything done to perfection and in time. She broke social norms and was the first woman in her clan to ditch the purdah and take bold social and financial decisions at a time when her family needed it the most. From the meagre salary of a teacher husband, she managed to make both her kids doctors. She had two kids, which is commendable considering that it was at a time when people couldn't remember how many they had. She was not very educated but had wisdom no school can teach. She was much ahead of her times and yet firmly rooted in tradition. Two qualities that endeared her to all and made her the best guide to go to in time of need.
She was also the most spiritually enlightened woman I know. You could feel it the moment you were in her vicinity. Her aura was so pious. She herself confessed, had she not gotten married, she would have spent her life doing Bhakti. Though she belonged to a Hindu family, and got married into a Sikh one, she was equally proficient with both types of prayers. She would be up at 5 am, and then everything she did was a prayer. Work and worship amalgamated, and it was visible in every aspect of her life. Such was her tuning with the Universe, that whatever she uttered would turn out to be true. To me it was magical and awe inspiring!
The last most commendable thing about her was her ability to stay happy in every situation. No matter what life brought, she would find the opportunity in it and turn it around. She battled severe illness for many years before her death, but never complained. Whenever asked, she would always say she was feeling great!
My Nani led an exemplary life which was an inspiration to everyone. She touched the life of anyone who ever came in contact with her. The sheer number of people present on her funeral was a testimony to this fact. She was a pillar of strength for everyone. It is true that life goes on but some voids are impossible to fill and shoes too large to fit in. She is missed each and every day but her legacy lives on. Through every life she touched and through everything we learnt from her. We carry her in our hearts. So next time you have Choori made by me, you know there's a part of my Nani's love in there. Feel like having some? Bon appetit! :)