For me atleast, its the contentment which I look forward to when I eat something made at home - that kind of satiation is always missing when eating outside. Now, I don't go looking for that feeling when eating out, so why come and try to sell me something you don't have a hope of ever recreating?!
Like homemade masalas.....that taste is so unattainable that the manufacturers shouldn't even try to replicate it.
They start with a handicap - masalas made at home vary from family to family depending on their traditional recipe.....so even on the off chance that they do manage to satisfy one set of people, there's no way everyone is going to be happy!
Its been a very long time since I ground sambar masala at home - what with our packed schedules and work days, it just doesn't seem possible to make the effort to go through all that roasting and grinding.
I do make rasam powder since no one seems to come even close to what we look for in a rasam powder, but the sambar powder brand we were using seemed to be good.
Until l I went home this time and my mother made her sambhar powder specially for me and Dad packed it all up for me to take back. The delicious sambhar we have been making since then,has woken me up to what "homemade" is all about.
It's about the handpicked ingredients, where we know the quality of each of them - the coriander seeds, the red chilly variety, the proportion of dals.
Its about the care taken to make sure each one of them is roasted separately, for the right time till the kitchen is filled with the overpowering smell of spices each on giving out their own aroma and oil.
And then taking the mixture to the nearby mill, where it is ground under eagle eyes.....to just the right texture.Perfection.
Dry Red Chillies - 1/4 kg
Coriander seeds (Dhania) - 1/2 kg
Tuvar Dal (arhar dal or split pigeon pea lentils) - 150 gms
Chana Dal (Bengal gram lentil) - 75 gms
Raw Rice - 25 gms
Black peppercorns (milagu)- 10 gms
Fenugreek seeds (methi/vendhiyam) - 25 gms
Roast all the ingredients separately. The methi and pepper should be roasted very lightly.
Grind to a powder and store in a tightly lidded container.
The Makings of a delicious meal - mixed vegetables cut for avial, mochai,coriander and tomato for sambar and brinjal for a dry vegetable
Every meal I had at home was just perfect, whether it was the pudina thogayal, kootu, rasam and rice. Or Sambar, avial, kathirikai curry and curd rice. Or the chapati, dal and cabbage porial. Or the crisp adais with butter and jaggery. Now that's home cookin'.
The meals I cook at home don't come close to this, because my memories are made of what I have grown up eating for 25 years, not the past 10 years.
And as everyone knows, memories are stronger than imagination! :)