Passing down vanishing skills during Thanksgiving

I think I probably speak for many of us second generation South Asian Americans when I say that Thanksgiving, as much as it is a holiday for spending time with family, has also become a race-against-time once-a-year cooking clinic. There are a great many tasty dishes and culinary techniques that are disappearing in diaspora communities at the same rate as endangered species and languages. Packaged foods, restaurants, and fusion creations are replacing good old-world home cooking. There are a number of techniques I recommend to combat this trend. First, get a Google Voice account. Ask your mom or dad to call the Google Voice number and hit the digit “4” to record. That way, when they tell you that recipe for the 100th time, you won’t have to worry about forgetting it. If you are at home this Thanksgiving then you can also set up one of those simple, pocket-sized digital movie cameras and record what is going on in the kitchen (like your mom telling you that you are rolling the velan incorrectly). Finally, PRACTICE. You might mess it up 10 times but on that 11th try hit the sweet spot and trigger a flood of memories.

I took my own advice and set up a video camera in our kitchen yesterday. I learned to roll parathas and then flipped them to my brother to cook up.



8 thoughts on “Passing down vanishing skills during Thanksgiving

  1. I like how he rolls out the chappati in one action. Then a “no look” throw with a boy casually walking under it. Only in America. 🙂

  2. Abhi: Wait just a minute. I saw the “parathas” you rolled. They were neither round, nor triangle, nor any shape or form. To make them triangle, I saw you pulling edges by hand. All things considered, in the end it’s the taste that matters not the shape. I seriously doubt if you can get a job at this place shown in the video. Thanks for using the video I sent you anyway;-)

  3. Only in America. 🙂

    pretty sure its not America, but somewhere near Chennai…. And its not chappati, its paROta!!! yum!!

  4. We keep trying different frozen roti/parathas packets, but none of them come anything close to mom’s roti. It’s depressing.

  5. Roll baby roll – i dont think you meant “role” the joys of a wordprocessor 🙂

  6. it is called thattukada in south india. you can see such thattukadas on either side of main roads in south india during the is porotta in south india

  7. If I spent Thanksgiving with my parents, either at their house or mine, there would be no time for cooking lessons before The Big Meal. My mom would be too busy cooking a crazy variety of yummy things, which she would have started either the day before or at the crack of dawn. We’ll end up with enough food to feed our entire neighborhood even though only 4.5 of us will be actually sitting down for dinner together. 🙂

    Email works better for recipes, though my mom (so sweet!) had to take the time to figure out what the amounts were since she doesn’t measure anything. And her instructions to ‘add it until it tastes right’ or ‘add until it looks right’ are totally lost on me.

    And yeah, none of the frozen rotis/parathas are that good, though I still get a kick out of seeing the Pillsbury doughboy on a roti package 🙂