Warm some oil in a cooking pot and add two or three teaspoonfuls of ghee.
(The clear, clarified butter is called ghee.)
Add the appropriate amount of sugar.
Buy slender squash. Peel them, leaving a line of skin, like this.
For butternut squash with potatoes and fried coconut cubes, crack whole cardamom seeds.
Fry in deep fat.
Use enough oil.
Inside the fried coconut cube recipe,
where no one was looking, she wrote,
I wish you could have stayed a little longer though.
I also wish I had larger butternut squash to cook for you.
Set everything aside.
Lightly brown potatoes and cauliflower.
Fry a little portion at a time.
1/3 or ½ cup of oil.
(I hope that is the right amount.)
Translation: Are you listening?
Be careful about the cauliflower.
Translation: Are you listening?
Water will come out of the cabbage and will be enough to make it tender.
Translation: Don’t worry so much about everything.
It does not take too long to prepare.
Translation: Will you make this dish, after the stroke, when I need you to look after me?
Of course, you understand, I am guessing.
Translation: I’m not sure what you’re asking.
All the proportions.
I do not measure while cooking vegetables.
Translation: Will you cook these recipes,
when you’re so
far away from me?
In this dish only grated onions are used. No sliced onions, O.K.?
Translation: For my loving children, who are sloppy, sometimes, with onions.
I have high, medium high, medium low, simmer. I usually start in medium high.
Translation: Here is my stove. Do you have a stove?
Always go easy with your spices.
Translation: There are no Indian stores in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
May your spice containers be bottomless.
May your cupboards never be bare.
Always taste to see that salt and sugar is right.
My father cooks in a cloud of spices.
“She always under-spiced,” he told me.
“Where would she get more?
I,” he said, “have the opposite problem.”
Cook slowly and add potatoes after the meat could be separated or torn when pressed between fingers. Add ground cardamom and one teaspoon ghee, stir, and you will have a tasty dish.
inside the cauliflower, potatoes, and peas dish,
to a son in Connecticut, 563 miles away:
Next time, Bubla,
just watch me to cook.
It is a lot easier for you and me.
4. Love Letter
Choose a nice light eggplant. Cut it lengthwise. Put a little oil all over the skin side (do not pour but put your palm over the mouth of the oil bottle and get a little oil that way and put it all over the skin side then poke it with a knife two or three places. Keep the oven door open a little. The skin will be burnt crisp. You will smell it, though check it time to time. When done, take it out. Turn it over (carefully) and spoon it out of the skin in a bowl. It will come out clean, leaving the skin intact. Add salt and sugar and a tablespoon of oil. Mix it with a fork. (How about a little hot green pepper?) Another tasty dish. Eat with rice.
5. For Heartache
Translation: For grandchildren, who otherwise might not know anything.
1 cup of uncooked Mahatma Basmati rice
2 cups of water
Put both together in a pan. Cover and bring it to boil. When boiling, put it to simmer. If you add a little oil in the water after putting it to simmer, it won’t boil over so much. Check, when there some small holes appear or depressions on the surface and hardly any water could be seen, put off the stove, having the pot on the range. The rice will be done in a minute.
The thing is to watch time.
Now, cook fluffy rice and enjoy yourselves.
In fall 2017, Anjoli Roy received her PhD from the English Department at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she studied with Shawna Yang Ryan, Craig Santos Perez, and S. Shankar. Her recent work has appeared in Asian American Literary Review, Waxwing, Dămfīno, Hippocampus Magazine, Kore Press’s Poem of the Week, Kweli, River Teeth, and Spiral Orb. You can read more of her work at her website, www.anjoliroy.com.