February 21, 2011

Things I Have Learned:

It feels good to be the one to shave your spouse’s head when her hair starts falling out in chemotherapy-induced clumps.  You’ll come up with (new) goofy little nicknames for her in her baldness, and—cliché as it is—you will find her as beautiful as ever.

It also feels good to go to the gym, or for a run, or for a bike ride.  These things will, in fact, seem like the very things keeping you sane, and for the power and ability of your body, you will be grateful.  After a particularly excellent workout, you may well feel like you can fly.

When you get up early Saturday morning in San Francisco while attending a work conference and go for a run from the condo you and your colleagues are renting to the waterfront where the seagulls squawk cheekily at you, the only folks you will encounter are pot-smoking bums and old Chinese ladies walking their poodles, plus a couple of fanny-pack-wearing tourists.  You’ll be able to smell the bean paste they’re making in Chinatown, to be stuffed into little balls of sesame-seed dotted and fried dough, like the ones you had the day before.

A friend will visit for the weekend and surprise you with a sonogram photograph so that you’ll squeal to wake the dead, serve her and the tiny one a big ole mess of breakfast and be so, so, so happy.

You will conclude over and over again that there isn’t any good language for anything.  Because you want to tell the people in your life just how much you love them and how much they make your life better, but you can’t really manage with language and you’re afraid you’ll freak them out with trying, so you offer hugs and hand-written notes instead.

All of your plans will be laid out as close to perfectly as possible, because hey!  You’re really good at planning, but then something like a low blood cell count will change all of your plans in an instant, but instead of that freaking you the heck out, like it normally would, you discover that it doesn’t really matter to you anymore.  You decide it must be a result of that thing called “perspective.”

Your mom is coming to town soon and you can’t wait to see her.  Because nothing will be more comforting than her presence and nothing will ever, ever taste as good as food that she makes.


Fairly straightforward but possibly my favorite way to consume kale.  We Indians know how to make vegetables taste good without a ton of added fat.  Go us!
2 bunches curly green kale
approx. 2 lb. red potatoes
a few sprinkles asafetida
1 tsp. whole cumin
1 tsp. each, ground cumin & coriander
pinch (or more, if you like) red pepper flakes
salt to taste
vegetable oil

Prep the kale by rinsing it and stripping the leafy parts off of the middle rib.  Chop the kale into small pieces.  Peel and chunk the potatoes.

Pour a good tablespoon or two of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, toss in the whole cumin seeds and let them sizzle a bit before sprinkling in the asafetida.

Swirl oil and spices around in the pot before tossing in the kale and potatoes—be careful, they will splatter!  Cover and let the kale wilt a bit before adding the rest of the spices: ground cumin & coriander, red pepper flakes, and a good teaspoon of salt.

Cook, covered, over medium heat until the potatoes are done.  Then uncover the pot and turn the heat down to medium-low in order to evaporate any water.  You want the sabji to be quite dry; it’s done when the vegetables begin to stick a bit to the bottom and sides of the pot.


  1. I loved this dish. Thank you for posting it my sweet Nishta. Love you.

    Comment by Sharon — February 21, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

  2. I just bought my first small container of asafetida and am anxious to use it in a recipe…this recipe, I’m sure!

    Comment by Dragana — February 21, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  3. and we learned that if you let them, people will surprise you with their capacity to love – way more than you ever expected.

    love you both TONS.

    Comment by mel — February 22, 2011 @ 6:18 am

  4. I love this post, and I love you. Fly on, friend.

    Comment by Jess — February 22, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  5. I just read Wikipedia’s article on asafetida – it has so many medical applications – antiviral, antimicrobial, aids in digestion and even good for balancing your vata dosha. I sure hope you’re putting it in everything you cook for your spouse. Anyway – can you tell me where I can buy some in Houston?

    Comment by Sue C. — February 22, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  6. I loved this post. And I’m bookmarking this recipe to make the next time I’m in the States — I can’t find kale in Mexico and always crave it anytime I’m in the EEUU.

    Comment by Lesley — February 22, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

  7. This sounds lovely. And you and Jill, through your struggle and your pain, you are lovely. And you are love. And you are loved.

    Comment by Joh — February 23, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

  8. Sharon–I love you, too. Lots!

    Dragana–oh, I’m excited for you! I think the taste of asafetida is so unique, one of those hard-to-place flavors you’ll miss once you know it. let me know what you end up doing with it.

    mel–you are absolutely right. we are inspired by the two of you!

    Jess–love you right back, lady.

    Sue–any local Indian grocery store will have asafetida, just ask! it usually comes in a small plastic container with a tight lid (it’s got a very pungent odor). I poke a hole in the top of the container so I can sprinkle easily, and then keep the whole thing in a plastic bag.

    Lesley–oh, I would miss kale (though I know there are a lot of things *you* can get that would make up for it!) and thank you for the compliment, means a great deal coming from you.

    Joh–takes lovely to know lovely. xo

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — February 25, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  9. Attention to the moderator (Nishta?)of this site….

    This is a response to the comment from Lesley on Feb. 22, who said ‘I can’t find kale in Mexico and always crave it anytime I’m in the EEUU’.

    You can forward her my email if it is possible. I live in Mexico (hopefully close by) and I have a garden full of some of the healthiest organically grown Kale that you can imagine. And there is no way I can consume all of it…..unfortunately most Mexicans don’t know what it is and are not interested in trying it either. I was just looking for a spanish translation for the work Kale and I came across her comment.

    By the way, I love Indian curries and flavors and cannot wait to try your recipe for Potato and Kale Sabji!

    Comment by Debra — February 26, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  10. Hi Nishta: Just wanted to let you know that I made this last night and it turned out great! Exactly what I wanted after a day of wandering around chilly (but balmy to New Yorkers) New York. I was too lazy to peel my potatoes, but next time I think I would, just so they’d break down more easily and get all soft and creamy.

    To commenter Debra: I live in Mexico City! Where do you live? (*Crossing fingers that Mexico City is your answer*)

    Comment by Lesley — March 14, 2011 @ 6:55 am

  11. Lesley–thank you so much for your comment. it’s wonderful to know that you tried the recipe and that you enjoyed it! enjoy your NYC wanderings–I hope we’ll see photographs on the blog when you’re back.

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — March 14, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

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