Rice and Daal

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

 In our Brooklyn apartment, my mom used to put uncooked rice out on the window sill for the pigeons to eat. Every morning, there was a line of pigeons waiting at the top of the building across the street. As soon as the first grains of rice had left my mom’s hand, they would all take off in the direction of the window. 

Rice is a staple of the Bengali diet. There are many different kinds of rice and ways to cook it. White rice is what we eat nearly every day, usually with daal, a stew made from lentil beans. It was the first thing my mom learned to cook.

Not until I was older, and I had to live without my family did I appreciate the food we’d eaten together. My mom usually packs me something that she makes and when I open the Tupperware container, it reminds me of her. My mom told me that she had a similar experience; not until she was older, and she had moved away from most of her family in 1992 did she appreciate the way they used to cook and eat together. Cooking rice and daal in the US made her homesick at first because it reminded her of her aunt who taught her to cook, and the kitchen where she learned. Emotionally, it was easier to make burgers at White Castle, where she worked for years. However, she said that after some time the pain faded. 

She learned to speak English, mostly through watching Channel 13, moved out of her parents’ apartment with her husband (my dad) and kids (me and my sister) and made a new home for herself where she taught her kids to make the same food her mom and aunt taught her to make.



Place(s): New York City, Bangladesh
Year: 1992

– Phariha Rahman

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant