I am making hakka noodles for dinner. I am not a big fan of Chinese cuisine and neither is my younger son. But my elder son loves food, all kinds of spreads: Chinese, Mexican, Italian, North Indian, South Indian with Italian cuisine topping the list. So it was him who insisted that I make hakka noodles with manchurian for dinner. I started rummaging the fridge to get out all the different veggies: pale green and deeper greens, leafy and non leafy.
As I assemble the veggies on my table, I start to wonder, how in the world do the chinese digest so many veggies in one meal and for vegetarians like me, would have to have them in the next meal too!! I give a small giggle and continue with the long task of chopping the vegetables, some small and some bigger in size, others in ground form. Yes!! it is task when you do not want to go the short-cut way. What is the short-cut way? you ask. Well you go to the departmental store, buy pre-cut veggies, buy pre made manchurian packs, and all you are left to do is mix all of them together in a pan. In a few minutes the meal is ready to serve and the taste is as good as a restaurant. only you don’t know what went into the taste maker pack.
Phew!! With all the ingredients ready, I start with the most difficult part of preparing the manchurian balls with the sauces and spices, me tasting it all the time to get the taste right.Lastly I start the preparation of hakka noodles, and my mind starts its chatter ‘ the noodles shouldn’t be overdone, the veggies should be a bit less then cooked, the taste should be….. I mean…. Chinese, I giggle again.
After a good two hours, with everything ready, I go to arrange the dining table. All the Chinese styled crockery comes out, the Chinese bowls, chopsticks, plates that has a Chinese design and look. A lotus candle stand with lotus table mats, which actually gives a zen look more than Chinese!! But everything together… it works.
My mother in law watches me slog with the table arrangements probably wondering as to what is it about the whole thing, why in the world am I giving so much time and attention when there is no birthday or an anniversary in the house. But she refrains from asking me as she knows I like to take each day as precious. why wait for a special occasion to celebrate!
We all sit together happily to relish what I cooked with love for my family. My loved ones dig into the food, I confess, the manchurians and noodles were not anything like how kit tastes in restaurant’s. Nevertheless, mid way to the meal, I am showered with praises and smiles from my husband and both the sons. My elder son goes the more elaborate way, he says, ” Mom, the best part of your food is the authencity of it all. You will not give up on your family’s health by maybe putting more oil or Taste enhancing seasonings just so that the dish is perfect. You always keep our health in mind and do not compromise it for anything and that is the reason I like all what you make. And also there is this additional ‘ Ma ka pyar’ (mother’s love) which can’t be found anywhere in the world”.
My heart is filled with so much love; all the hard work has paid off with so much love. Well, for me this is happiness, being able to eat your meals with your loved and being loved back by them.
No wealth and monetary fortune can even get any closer to this.