Ramadan Day 3 & 4

Remembering is not easy.

Yesterday was the first day I had time to cook a full meal for iftar.

After wrapping up teaching Saturday classes, I headed home with a strong craving for piyaju for iftari.

But I couldn’t remember how to exactly make it.

I could visualize the colors I would see in my mixing bowl. I could imagine the taste and smell. I remember there was an ingredient, if there was too much or too little of it, it would mess up the texture. I remember the movements. Wash. Chop. Blend. Pour. Sprinkle. Toss. Mix. Fry. Flip.

I didn’t need exact measurements; I usually don’t cook with them. I eyeball. Add a little bit of this. A lot of that. Taste.

It’s why I don’t make fancy desserts. I don’t have the discipline or patience.

I called my mom. I needed affirmation that what I did remember was indeed true. She offered:

Soak the lentils. Blend. Not too much water. A little cumin. A little cayenne. A little turmeric. Salt. Cilantro. Onions. Green chilis. Not too much flour. Fry.

I could see it all in my mind’s eye.

After getting off the phone, I went to my bookshelf. I found my khayamiya print notebook of iftar recipes and journal entries from 2010. It was the first year since preschool I was not a student and unemployed; the first year of my marriage.

My notes also did not include measurements. Just add a little bit of this. A lot of that. Taste.

I got to work. Once all the colors I visualized were in my mixing bowl, my forearms and hands took over. I wasn’t sure how many piyaju would come out of the mix, but I wasn’t worried.

After returning home with groceries, my brother watched. He asked why I used a fork and spoon. He remembered seeing our mom use her hands and fingers to place palmful portions of the mixture in the fry pan.

I had accidentally burned my hand on the stove a few minutes before. Otherwise, it’s also how I remember it done.

The small circular rounds slowly turned from orange to red. I could hear the crunch when I tapped the tops with my fork.

It was as if the story of piyaju was tucked away somewhere between my imagination and muscle memory.

And the resulting piyaju were just perfect.

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