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How Matar-Paneer Connected Hearts Across Countries

Santosh Aunty had finally finished cleaning the house. Still smiling to herself, she couldn’t help but laugh when the pressure cooker whistled. 3 days had passed since Akash’s call from Toronto . Heading back into the kitchen, her mind went back to the conversation she had had with her son in the foreign land.
At 8 p.m. a shrill call rang through the Bhardwaj household. It was a Skype call from Anubhav. Aunty rushed to pick it up.
“Hello, Akash beta!?”
“Hi ma! Listen, I have an emergency.”

Santosh aunty prayed while she tried to keep the unimaginable out of her mind.
“What happened beta? Do you need money? We have a copy of your passport on your papa’s mail, do you want me to call him?”

“Oho, no ma, relax! It is not that type of emergency. Listen, I need you to teach me to make matar-paneer. It is very important Ma. I need to make it to impress my hostel-mate. ” Akash whined.
“But why do you want to impress your hostel mate, Akash?” Santosh aunty was very perplexed.
“Mummy, you won’t understand.”
“Just tell me, Akash.” Aunty’s voice made Akash realise that she was just about to lose her cool, so Akash quickly spilled the beans. “Ok Ok, don’t get angry. It’s just that, he made some amazing gajar ka halwa last night, and he says he won’t let me taste it or eat it if I do not cook something too. The other flat-mates made their share. Arjun made fried rice, and Saurabh had home-made laddoos, now I am the only one left. Please , mom, it has been forever since I had your home-cooked food. Please help me.” Santosh aunty controlled her giggle as Akash started whined like his 14 year old self.
“Fine, tell me do you have the ingredients?”
“Haan ma, I got all the ingredients needed from the net. But I want your recipe for it.”
“OK. I am sending you the recipe, follow it as I have sent it. Now just remember, while cooking make sure that the onion-tomato paste that you make will be cooked when the smell of onion becomes faint and the mixture starts separating from the oil. You will see this after 15-20 minutes. ”
After sending the recipe, Aunty sat down to watch her favourite show.

Close to 2 hours later she got another call. It was Akash again.
“Mom, I don’t know what happened. I think I have defective onions.”
“What do you mean?”
“I kept the mixture on heat, but the oil and the tomato-onion mixture remained mixed with the oil, and the smell of onions did not go. Now I’m left with some burnt-to-crisp paste and the room smells of onions.”
“He bhagwan! If you are using the onions, they will smell like onions you fool. I meant that the smell will become less pungent and you will be able to see the oil on the sides of the kadhai.”
Akash immediately shouted, “Kadhai? What Kadhai?! You never mentioned a kadhai. I put everything in the cooker!”

It took Santosh aunty at least 10 minutes to calm her laughter down to reply with an audible sound. While Akash’s roommates didn’t get the matar-paneer as promised, Akash did get a promise from his mother that every evening she will call him up to teach him the basics of cooking and Santosh aunty and Akash had discovered a new way to connect through the process.

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