Even though I love to cook, I never cook with my kids. Why? It’s too messy for one thing. For another, the older kids have gotten minor cuts while chopping and that makes me nervous. Frankly, the kitchen is an excellent place to temporarily check out from parenting – I like the focused solitary activity. Besides, the work I do there is still in service of my family. If I’m acting escapist in hiding out and chopping, so what? When I’m done, we’ll have an excellent dinner. I don’t want to manage developing knife skills, cross-counter trails of sugar, or little hands sticky with raw eggs. (How awful it is to confess to that!) Moms are SO not supposed to admit to these kinds of feelings. Sigh. I’m not going to worry about it though. There are other things to do.
After I read Madhur Jaffrey’s autobiography Climbing the Mango Trees, I thought: I want that kind of childhood for my kids, those kinds of food memories, the tumult of food culture that shaped her life. I imagine her in long braids and a bright dress, banging through the kitchen door after school, welcomed by a round terra cotta bowl of creamy basmati rice pudding scented with cardamom and garnished with shattered toasted pistachios. Or waking to a winter breakfast of daulat ki chaat, whose ingredients include fresh whole milk, seafoam and dew. (Dew!?!) Ms. Jaffrey describes this “heavenly froth” as “the most ephemeral of fairy dishes”.
Ok, ok. I know I can’t collect dew on the roof of my house and come up with some magically memorable breakfast. I can’t even get raw milk very easily. (Anyway, think of the bacteria!) And sea-foam? Forget it. I’m imagining the looks on their little faces if I told them that no, we aren’t having waffles and bacon for breakfast, instead, how about milk with sea-foam and dew!?! I want them to be able to roll with it, but maybe not that much.
Still, I think there are things I can do if I want to give my kids incredible food memories. Imagine getting off the school bus in Seattle, rain running off the shoulders of your parka, and stepping into a warm kitchen. There on the counter, a clear pitcher of golden creamy mango lassi, drops of condensation glistening on the sides. Serve it cold. Listen for the delicate slurp as you pour it into a glass. Pay attention and catch that earthy lemon scent of cardamom. Isn’t it lucky Ataulfo mangoes are everywhere in late spring?! This has to be a step in the right direction.
- 1 cup mango, cut from 1 ataulfo mango
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 2 tbsp sugar
This couldn’t be any easier.
- Put all the ingredients in your blender and whizz for 2 minutes.
- Push the lassi through a sieve with a spatula or wooden spoon to remove the pulverized cardamom.
- Pour into a glass and drink.
The hard part could be figuring out how to get all the flesh off the mango. A friend from New Zealand taught me. Here’s how:
Like I said, I don’t usually bring the kids into the kitchen when I’m working. For lassis I can make an exception.