I came to NY when I was five years old in March of 1977. Although many of the ways of my family differ from the recent immigrants to this country from Guyana, one tradition I retain is weekly consumption of dal and rice.
It is my favorite dish. From childhood, it superceded all other dishes my parents or other relatives cooked.
Now that I have children of my own it is important to me that they develop a taste for the dishes of my culture. West Indian food has a blend of spices that differ from those of the Indian subcontinent. When someone speaks of curry or dal he or she has eaten in a restaurant it is not what I consumed all my life.
My children are biracial- their father is Irish- and it makes me feel so good to pass on the most important part of my Guyanese tradition to them.
Growing up, my father cooked a pot of dal every week. As an adult, he now cooks even more dal so that he can bring it to my children. It is the most loving way that he shows me how much he cares about me and my children. I have tried many times to replicate the flavor of this very simple peas soup but have never been as successful as he consistently is. There is magic in his pot!
Dal and rice is home, family, and love.