Breadcrumbs

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live...

It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory...

Coming across Joy Harzo’s words in the midst of a pandemic almost seems prophetic. Maybe the world does end at the kitchen table. The bulk of the conversation at home is centered around the question: What tomorrow? Circling through recipes, mentally cataloging the ingredients we have, time elapsed since a dish was had, general cravings, sudden flourishes to try out a new recipe and simple lethargy to care anymore – that’s how the days go by. More often the last, the tedium of cooking rising more than my attempts at baking bread. But then that’s what happens when you self-impose a no eating from outside rule, for eight months no less.

It was truly exciting at the start. Not the dalgona coffee, but cooking everything from scratch, realizing it’s not so difficult to make that plum jam. Or chocolate cake, brownies and guava cheese. But bread…i yielded to active dry yeast for the better part of the year. The quick no-fuss no-yeast focaccia was a log, dripping oregano. The dinner rolls, clumpy masses, useful to throw during a lovers quarrel. The whole wheat flat as a pancake. As I watched videos and reels of people tucking their bread babies in, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why mine were stubborn children refusing to grow up. Especially the cursed whole wheat, which went into the bin more often than others with a slew of recipes I had bookmarked.

One went into our tummy, rather reluctantly. This second whole wheat was denser than me at parties, with no air pockets to help it breathe. But then I had already cut up the veggies and make the chicken, so the family had to gulp that down. We got through the day without any battles with the tummy, so I forgave myself rather quickly. And pretty much gave up on bread.

The oregano came out next because my sister, who was visiting had made some Afghani chicken and for the life of us we couldn’t figure out what to pair it with. The traditional tandoori rotis and naans were not forthcoming given our restaurant boycott. A rather long Google search yielded a flatbread recipe. It went by in a jiffy, leaving just crumbs behind. Sometimes that’s all you need. Now, the yeast brims right up to the top of the vessel more often than not. The focaccia spurs me to try on some art. The dinner rolls are soft and fluffy. Galettes and cakes have been ticked off, but not the whole wheat. The yeast still has its moods. It still holds the power to dash all my hopes and efforts. There is some activity though, it now acknowledges my presence like a sullen teenager. I’m yet to understand the signs, the temperature of the conversation, how much to stir the pot. Maybe someday we will become friends. Or I’ll finally find some instant yeast.

Ps: Do share a whole wheat recipe if it has worked for you. Also follow food trails on @shaheenskitchen on Instagram.

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