When I was expecting Henry, I hadn’t a notion what to do about childcare after the baby came along. I knew that on my meager wage my options were limited. I did have a quiet thought that I might like to be a stay-at-home mum for a few years.
I didn’t voice this pet plan. Tom would have laughed in my face as my not returning to work would be impossible on his meager wage. But privately I was thinking that it would be rather lovely to explore my hitherto undiscovered talents for crafts, grow vegetables and soak up Henry’s babyhood. About ten minutes into his babyhood I realized that I wasn’t cut out for stay-at-home motherhood and immediately started looking for the nearest exit.
Maternity leave wasn’t at all to my liking. I had thought it would be endless coffee mornings and swanning around while people admired my loin fruit. But in reality it was exhausting and at times lonely. As a freelancer my leave was pretty brief anyway.
When I started working again there was a period when I attempted to work with the baby suctioned on to my boob or in the bouncy chair but I soon found that the work wasn’t really getting done and that I needed a more permanent solution. Luckily I found the most fabulous, heaven-sent woman to mind the baby.
At the start, I was just so relieved to have a solution organised that I didn’t even mind when he really took to her. Just like that. No making strange or prolonged emotional goodbyes. He loved her instantly. We marvelled that the baby didn’t seem to notice that not only was this new woman not his mother but really he displayed no signs of loyalty towards us, his parents, at all.
I knew that I should be happy that he had taken to her so well, but naturally I began to become intensely jealous of them. Soon I was the one dragging out these painfully long goodbyes in the morning while Henry stared blankly at me or worse reached out his chubby little arms for his minder. I became increasingly fixated on this imagined rivalry between me and Henry’s minder.
Being Indian the minder’s house always smells of delicious spices so naturally one day I hit upon the idea to cook this Indian Dhal to try and win back the baby’s affections. Tom pronounced me unhinged, but the dhal was delicious.
You will need:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions
- 2 clove garlic
- 1 thumb ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 swede
- half a butternut squash
- 110g split yellow peas
- 110g red letils
- 1200ml low salt stock
- 4 handfuls of baby spinach
- Yoghurt and Flat-leaf parsley to serve
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Peel and finely dice the onions, the garlic and the ginger and add to the pot, frying until softened. Stir in the spices. Peel and dice the swede and squash and add these to the pot. Rinse the split peas and the lentils thoroughly before adding these. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for about an hour until the spilt peas are tender. Check the seasoning of the dhal, stir in the baby spinach and serve with yoghurt and fresh parsley.