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Basmati Rice and Roti

Both dishes taught me the most important fundamental principle in Indian cuisine

Learning Indian cooking from my mother is… well… a challenge? It feels… impossible.

She doesn’t use measuring cups or recipe cards, she’s immersed in flow and acting instinctively. Conversely, I love logic and precision; and this makes it difficult to learn from her… and also quite humbling.

I decided to focus on rotis and basmati rice. Both serve as the bedrock for Indian cuisine and are hard to do properly. For instance, most recipes call for 15 minutes to cook basmati rice … my mom says it’s actually an hour if I wanted to do it “correctly”..

Sushi chefs in Japan spend YEARS mastering rice before they can cut fish. So, I embraced a similar mindset.

Reverse engineering my mother’s roti took a good six months to get to something acceptable. For basmati rice, it wasn’t until my sixth try where I sort of smiled. A tough journey but many lessons.

One of my first near perfect round rotis

To my surprise, both dishes taught me the most important fundamental principle in Indian cuisine. With all the intricate layering of ingredients, Indian cooking demands you to slow down and feel. Time is THE ingredient.

Once you get into rolling rotis, it’s a zen-like time dilated flow state that magically produces round rotis. Preparing and cooking rice over an hour creates perfectly long, flavourful and soft gains to hold the curry just so…

I still have a long way to go, but attaining my mother’s mastery finally seems possible… and it’s not cooking, it’s her patience as a mother.

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Bhavin Prajapati

Bhavin Prajapati

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