On a video call with Mom, I told her that I am making Sambhar, something that never really turns out the way I wish it would. I am accustomed to having Mom's version of the Sambhar since childhood. It's taste is imprinted in places where I have no access to. The tongue knows when something is off.
Sambhar is a complex dish. It is not like a plum cake or a bread, or even Avial, where, eventually, the grated coconut and coconut oil evens out all the other tastes and brings them to a consensus. Sambhar is complex. The ladies fingers have to be slightly sauteed, else they disintegrate into the ocean that is Sambhar, and you can see that they existed once in the little seeds twinkling here and there. The Drum Sticks have to be just right, else they stand out. Drum sticks have to bend to the will of the greater cause that is Sambhar, but not break. Then there is the coriander powder and the Fenugreek Powder, and the asafoetida chunks that should melt entirely, else they raise hell in the mouth and are absent in the dish! In a good Sambhar, every ingredient retains its partial identity but work together to create a great customer experience. It is like they give up a bit of themselves for something much bigger than themselves. I think I will die trying, but never experience that kind of love in this life time. I give away too little and expect too much I guess! :-)
My mind has a natural dislike for complex things. But I still end up trying to cook up my Mom-like Sambhar. Maybe it is the worry that once she is no longer there, like grandmother is now no longer there, a lot of tastes that I once knew will get lost into the ocean of losses that is life.