Julia Child in Delhi – Shubha Sinha Makes Her Jharkhand’s Dhuska, Mayur Vihar Phase I
The great chef’s life in Delhi.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla is told there was never a better time to be in Delhi than now — when it comes to the bustling restaurant scene. There’s a Mizo man running a cool college-campus like Mizo eatery in Safdarjung Enclave and an Italian man’s too-pricey Italian restaurant in Greater Kailash-I.
And Shahpur Jat has a cozy restaurant specialising in Bihari cuisine. But what about, say, the Jharkhand state?
I just can’t find a restaurant in this vast sprawling city that can serve us Jharkhand’s terrific dhuska. Made of rice and dal, the finished dish transcends its commonplace ingredients and tastes neither like dal, nor rice but something entirely different. Finally, in search for this dish, I ended up in Shubha Sinha’s duplex apartment in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar Phase 1.
In her fifties, Ms Sinha grew up in Ranchi, Jharkhand, before moving to Delhi following her marriage. She learned cooking the hard way. When she was still a school-going girl, her mother was diagnosed with tuberculosis and had to be sent to a sanatorium not far from the town. She and her brother would visit ”maai” once a week but her father, an accountant, would bicycle daily to deliver home-made food to the mother. “Papa would cook every morning before leaving for the office,” says Ms Sinha, reminiscing her childhood while sitting on her drawing room sofa.
The daughter herself would cook in the evening after returning from the school. “I knew nothing in the beginning but gradually became more comfortable.”
Ms Sinha’s mother returned home after two years. She was, however, too weak to work — one of her lungs was so damaged that it had to be removed. “But maai would often sit in the kitchen and talk to me while I would be cooking.”
She passed away many years ago. Ms Sinha is now a mother of two daughters. Today, she is making us dhuska. “It’s basically a dish of the Chhota Nagpur region… we usually make it on special occasions… I remember this was the first dish I’d made in Delhi for my husband.”
1 bowl uncooked rice
1/2 bowl chana dal
1/4 bowl urad dal
Garlic (5-6 cloves)
Red chilli powder
Black pepper corns
Mustard Oil for frying (userefined oil according to your preference)
Soak rice and dal in water for 6 hours.
Grind the dal in a mixer grinder along with zeera, garlic, red chilli powder, black pepper, green chillies and salt.
Grind the rice and mix it with the dal mixture. Make sure you grind it all into a smooth paste.
Heat oil for deep frying.
Scoop the batter in a ladle and slowly pour it into the hot oil. Fry till it is crispy on the outside.
Serve it with chutney (tomato or mint) or mutton /liver gravy.
Her Home’s heritage