I remember the fiery smell of garlic and chillies wafting through house that day. I remember the checkered blue apron she wore. A new beginning for both of us. Far away from home, my mum and I were in a new house. Just her and I, with nothing left to say. The living room was filled with brown boxes, Labelled and packed tight, all our memories bundled together with brown tape. Amongst the brown, that day, we found our old pressure cooker. This ‘cooker’ had seen as many days as me, perhaps even more, and on it that day, we discovered a recipe book. Flipping through its yellowed pages, we found ‘Murg Musallam’. I cannot remember why we decided to give it a try. Perhaps it was fate or perhaps it was the enticing statement which proclaimed ‘Pressure Cooking time – 5 mins’. She gathered all the ingredients, removed her gold bangles, and tied her hair up into a bun and then, we began.
I peeled the garlic cloves slowly while she chopped up the onions with vigour. The chicken was bathed in the marinade of curd and loads of chilli. And then we had to wait. So, we took glasses of orange juice, sat on the dining table and did something which felt so foreign to us. We talked. We talked about how the chicken would turn out, we talked about what we would eat it with and we talked all the way back into the kitchen. The entire meal took four hours of labour and gave back four hours of laughter. When the whistle of the cooker finally went off, we plopped on the sofa and gave a sigh of relief. I am sure we smelled like Murgh Musallam too. But when it was time and we broke a piece of the crispy roti, dipped it in the piping hot masala and took a bite, we knew that it was worth it all. It was like a piece of heaven. As I sit down now and think of that day, I realise that Murg Musallam was more than just a meal. It was a connection. I had known my mum for years before, but it was that day that I found her.