By Vin Somasundaram
A few weeks ago, our Hindi 203 class took a journey back to India to cook one of the tastiest dishes known to mankind: Vegetable Pulav (सब्ज़ी पुलाव) - a dish consisting of soft rice mixed with many vegetables. In previous semesters, our cooking days were filled with excitement. Our class would walk over together from west campus listening to some Bollywood music to get us into the festive mood. Walking into the kitchen at the John Hope Franklin Center, we’d smell a handful of aromas from chai to butter paneer. This year however, under these atypical circumstances, we had to adjust. Since we weren’t able to cook as a class, I decided to meet up with two of my classmates to cook together under COVID-safe conditions.
We split up buying the ingredients for our Vegetable Pulav (सब्ज़ी पुलाव) and Raita (रायता) - a yogurt-based dish mixed with onions and cucumbers. I brought the yogurt (दही) and the carrots. We laid out all our ingredients on Pallavi’s counter and set up a laptop to Zoom in with the rest of the class. Even though we weren’t all together in person, we were together in spirit!
Then, we began to cook. We decided to split up our work, with two of us making the Vegetable Pulav and the other making the Raita. It was my job to make the Raita, so I began by cutting up the cucumbers and the onions into small cubes. Then I took the vegetables and mixed them with multiple spoons of yogurt and some water to make it a little thinner. To flavor it, I added some salt and chat masala and mixed it thoroughly.
I finished making the Raita pretty quickly, so I decided to help cut up the vegetables for the Pulav. I cut up onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots to add to our rice. Then, Shiv mixed all the vegetables with the rice, added water, and set the dish in the microwave for 12 minutes.
As we waited excitedly for the food to come out, we cleaned up the counter and reminisced on our time together in our Hindi classes. From previous cooking classes, to hilarious skits, to dance sessions, we all made incredible memories connecting with Indian culture through this class. Although we weren’t able to all be together for this culminating cooking class, we were able to make the most of this experience.
Pulled out of our memories by the loud ding of the microwave, we jumped out of our seats to see what our final product looked like. Once Shiv pulled the dish out of the microwave, we placed the Pulav on our plates and served it with Raita. After taking a few pictures of our beautiful dish, we delved in and quickly devoured it.
This cooking class was a great experience for us to connect more with Indian culture, and it was a great lunch for us as well! Although COVID put us in a tough predicament, Kusum Ji did a great job organizing this cooking class so that we could make the most of our situation. I can’t wait to enjoy more experiences like this one in the near future!