Let’s play a game: “Name That… That Thing-Thing.”

Let’s play a game: “Name That… That Thing-Thing.”

I made moong dal last night. I’ve just been looking up Indian recipes online and doing the best I can on my own self-instruction. Sometimes I have trouble when I go to the market because I’m trying to find ingredients by only the English name (cuz that’s what the recipe has) and I don’t know what the Hindi name is, or what the ingredient itself looks like. For the record, tamarind pulp is “imli,” and it looks kind of like dried dates in a big hard clump. I’m sure it’s available in Canada, I’ve just never had occasion to use it. Or try to find it.

I’ve started writing down the English and Hindi names, but they seem sort of variable sometimes, like not necessarily describing the same thing at all times, or the pronunciations I find online are totally different. Oh, I found garlic! Rejoice! Anyway, back to last night: so most of these recipes use pressure cookers. I’ve never seen one of these in Canada, let alone used one, but thanks to the genius of iPad and FaceTime, I took my mum on a tour of my kitchen and she identified a pressure cooker for me. I tried to look up instructions for it online, but couldn’t really find anything specific for mine and couldn’t identify the parts since the models weren’t the same as mine. Decided to wing it. [don’t make that face at me!]

So I didn’t take a picture of the resulting mess, but suffice it to say that there was no whistling of this cooker, dal just started spraying out of the top… thing (vent? Valve? Whistle hole? I don’t know). I turned off the heat and managed not to burn myself, let it depressurize on its own, and the dal was actually ok. I don’t have a blender, so the texture isn’t “correct,” but it was cooked, anyway. I tried to make rice in what sort of looked like a rice pot thing to me, it’s the insulated one in the picture, but it wasn’t heating at all and with the plastic handles, I’m not even convinced it’s for stovetop use (though based on the melted plastic and charred bottom, it’s definitely been used that way). So I put the rice in the flat bottomed wok-thingie and cooked it that way and it was fine.  If anyone can name that other pot-type contraption with the weird lid, and advise me on the correct use of ANY of these things, I would be much appreciative!

I also can’t figure out how to use the washing machine. It doesn’t seem like it should be difficult, but I wonder if the water is controlled somewhere else… or something. Nothing happens when I try, and I’ve reset the outlet (they all have on-off switches). And there’s no plugs or stoppers for any of the sinks, which has made washing dishes difficult, and handwashing clothes impossible so far. My old place had a bucket, but this one doesn’t. I guess it’s just expected that the maid does the laundry….? There isn’t even a broom in here, she must bring one from the other unit. I spent the morning washing most of the dishes in the cupboards and cleaning the cupboards themselves, as some things were put away dirty by the last tenant (yeah, gross) and there was that grungy oil + dust mixture and spilled masala on everything and I already have ants so I need to keep it a little cleaner – if that will even help. Where are those geckos when I need ‘em?

You know how you never miss something until it’s gone? I didn’t think I used my oven at home all that much, but now that I don’t have one here, I really find myself wanting to bake cookies or something. On a side note, did you know that the term “care package” was actually coined by CARE, the NGO I’m working for here in India? Just after WWII, they formed their organization based on hunger needs and started sending boxes of food to war-torn Europe.

I’m sure you brilliant people have already put all this together and I don’t need to spell it out for you any further. My address is as follows:

Melinda Platte

R-249, Greater Kailash-I

New Delhi, Delhi, India


No pressure. GET IT??! Hehehe…..


10 responses »

  1. Congratulations on not ending up with 3rd degree burns. A sign of pressure-cooker success, I say! I have bought tamarind here before, however the packaging is a little more appealing and less….how shall I say it…”feces-in-a-bag” looking.

  2. Both pots on the left look like pressure cookers, just with different locking mechanisms. The pot shouldn’t boil, you put your food in, cook it a bit, then lock the lid on. The heat should be on the lower end so the weight in the centre of the pot rocks gently. The thing at the back of the second pot (I can’t see it on the first one) is a release valve, if the pressure builds up too much, it is supposed to blow to release the pressure (and everything else in the pot – voice of experience). You can run cold water over the edge of the lid or put the pot in a sink of cold water (since you don’t have any plugs (or cold water if I remember correctly) this may not be possible) to cool if down quicker. Don’t try to remove the lid if the release valve is up because the contents are pressurized until it goes down. Have fun cooking. I’m really enjoying your posts, they’re the next best thing to being there.

  3. Hey Melinda! I am enjoying your adventures. Please be careful withthe pressure cookers. My Mom warned my sister and I often that ” pressure cookers can kill you” . Then she wondered why neither of us would take her cooker when she wanted to downsize her kitchen! It’s the one kitchen appliance I don’t have! Take care, Mary

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