Produce, Parenting, And Persistence Through A Pandemic.
Condé Nast Traveller India|February - March - April 2021
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi on finding produce, parenting, and persistence through a pandemic.
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

It started with an isolation erissery.

It was the morning of March 21st 2020 in Mumbai, four days before the official lockdown. I had a wan vegetable drawer with only one disco bhopla (pumpkin), and it was going cottony. Supplies were already scarce, unpredictable. Our part-time kitchen helper was already on paid furlough. Our three kids—the boy, four-and-a-half, the girls, two and two—needed lunch. They had soundly rejected Sindhi-style sweet and sour pumpkin sabzi the last three times I made it for them. Persisting, because it had paid off in the past, I decided to play with a recipe from Kerala. I boiled the pumpkin and smashed it, adding turmeric and a paste of fresh coconut, cumin, and one mild green chilli. I topped it with a ghee tadka of crunchy, fried coconut flakes, dried Kashmiri mirch, mustard seeds, a touch of hing, and the last of my curry leaves.

As an adult, I’d very slowly learned that all the vegetables I hated as a kid didn’t deserve my disdain. It wasn’t greens that were gross, it was just that my palate preferred them prepared differently. I love my turai (ridge gourd) slightly crunchy, skin on, certainly not slimy. I favour spinach with a bit of tang from tomatoes or lime. I’m partial to pumpkin with some texture and a ripple of heat. These are my preferences and in the recent years of parenting meal-prep, I’ve learned that kids come with their own. For weeks, I had persisted, in the face of rejection, serving them healthy food with minor tweaks until they let their guard down and sampled it. The eriserry was well liked, both in real life, and on the ‘gram.

Living in a nuclear family with three under three, it felt like I’d already been under semi-isolation for a couple of years. Moving around with multiple minis requires a mini war effort, and I barely ever left home without many very tiny people in the daytime. I’d gone from trying every new restaurant in town to carefully curating lists of the ones I most wanted to review and sneaking out for working dinners after bedtime. My interviews and meetings were almost all conducted on the phone, preZoom. With lockdown, my life, with all its unarguable privileges, didn’t seem much changed. We were still hopeful during the first few weeks of lockdown, even the first few months of the pandemic.

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