As I stood in the kitchen being mom, my young son asked, “Who’s the matriarch in our family?” That’s a big query and deserves a thoughtful response and, to answer that question, I had to first unravel the role of a matriarch.

The role is of great significance — old school wisdom balanced with an understanding and appreciation of contemporary lives being lived by the descendants. Conviction seeped in customs, traditions, culture and religious thought. A sane weighted voice willing to understand, appreciate and explain the higher reasoning behind the unfolding of events, and their corresponding consequences.

Someone who can answer simple and complicated questions, and is willing to listen from a place of humility acquired over time. A life lived in layered lessons, strength, winning, losing and all else that comes with experiencing the heights of love, passion, pain, loss, victory, defeat, happiness, achievement and suffering. A life that respects, inspires, teaches and nurtures, because that is its nature.

Comfort foods that can satisfy the hunger of the young ones and their appetite for asking difficult to answer questions

I thought for a moment and wondered how to answer my son’s question. With grandmothers dearly departed on both his paternal and maternal side, my son does not know the joys of having grandmothers, hence I felt it best not to remind him of the denied pleasures and instead answered: “A matriarch is someone who makes paratha, pulao, biryani, kebab or whatever it is the kids in the family want to eat.”

That being said, I’m nowhere close to taking the matriarchal role on, but I can cook whatever the little man’s heart desires and, for now, that is enough. Guess what he requested? Brownies and paratha. So here it is, from my kitchen to yours.

Brownie

Ingredients

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sifted cocoa powder

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup canola oil or extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an eight-by-eight-inch baking pan, or line with butter parchment paper. In a bowl combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chocolate chips and salt. In another bowl whisk eggs, oil, water, and vanilla essence. Sprinkle the dry mix over the wet mix and stir until just about combined (do not over mix). Pour batter into pan, use spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing. Enjoy with chai, coffee, ice cream or cream.

Blondie

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 eggs plus one yolk at room temperature

2 ¼ cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon cornstarch

½ teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

Method

Preheat the oven at 350 F. Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl, add eggs, yolk and vanilla extract, and combine well together.

Next sift all dry ingredients (except walnuts and white chocolate chips), add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and, once combined, fold in chips and walnuts. Transfer into a 13-by-9-inch buttered pan (or pan lined with buttered parchment paper), bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out dry.

Cool on the counter, cut into blondie bites and enjoy with chai, coffee, ice cream or whipped cream.

Cheeni Paratha

Ingredients

16oz whole wheat atta

Lukewarm water

Salt to taste (optional)

Oil

Sugar to taste

Method

Combine flour and salt, adding warm water until soft dough is formed. Knead dough until smooth. Cover and let it rest for an hour. Heat tawa, knead dough again and make dough balls. Dust work surface with flour and, with rolling pin, form discs with the dough balls. Spread sugar, fold in circumstance and form ball again, and roll into large discs with rolling pin, dusting with flour as needed. Put oil on one side of paratha, and place on hot tawa. Spin and press the paratha around as you cook. Pour evenly a tablespoon or two of oil on the top surface of the paratha, flip over and cook. The paratha is cooked when both sides are a beautiful golden brown. Enjoy with chai, coffee or cream.

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Published in Dawn, EOS, February 7th, 2021


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