Singapore Adventure

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Trading For Idlis
by venitha

Inspired by the red paper clip guy, I used hardball negotiation tactics ("I have a gift for Rohit. May I stop by sometime to drop it off?") to trade a wonderful child's drawing book for a fabulous Indian lunch of fresh idlis and savory sambar, made extra spicy just for me. Is it any wonder I love Deepali's cooking?

Idlis are small round patties made from a batter of rice and lentils, and Deepali cooked them on the stove in a clever double-layer idli steamer. Served immediately, they are warm and soft, striking the Goldilocks balance of not-too-dry and not-too-moist but just right for soaking up loads of sambar. An Indian version of chili, sambar has a spicy tamarind base. Deepali added some veggies and of course some lentils and of course her own special signature spice blend, consisting of a number of gorgeously colored spices she doesn't know the English words for and a whole lot of love.

Rohit happily demonstrated the appropriate idli eating method, dipping his idlis in his sambar. I am unfortunately far less skilled than any Indian, including this four-year-old, in eating with my hands, and anyway, I wanted to slurp the scumptious sambar by the spoonful and then lick the bowl. I opted to plop down idli islands in my fiery sambar sea and to slowly erode them with my spoon.

For dessert, Deepali served up irresistible gulab jamuns, similar to softly soggy donut holes and drenched in a tooth-achingly sweet syrup. I admit I had two bowls - they are, after all, irresistible - completely sabotaging my strict pre-Bali-trip diet. Good thing I worked them off playing with Rohit.

Popular Jim puts my swap to shame, for he's managed to trade his mere presence for a home-cooked supper of our Indian favorites, chole and . I married wisely, so I get to tag along.

I wonder what I have worth trading for the honor of being invited early for a cooking lesson. Anyone want a blue paperclip?