I don't really consider myself a good cook, but I like to think I am a decent one. Today, I was disturbed to find that I was ignorant of three essential recipes - Sheera, Khichdi, Pulao. I have never heard of Sheera and never tasted Khichdi though I have heard of it. (Maybe that is because I am a South Indian, but hey, don't we all believe in Mile sur mera tumhara?) Pulao - Is it pulao or biryani or vegetable rice that I usually make? What exactly is the difference? In the interest of national integration, I decided to give them all a try immediately. I discovered that Sheera was similar to the South Indian kesari. That doesn't help me because I don't know how to make the South Indian kesari. I found a Tarla Dalal recipe and modified it by reducing the ghee to a minimum and adding in some pineapple I had on hand. My tinkering messed up something and I had to stand there forever, stirring in extra ghee and water. Ugh, at least I didn't burn it. Next Khichdi. Again Tarla Dalal to the rescue. This time, I decided to follow the recipe to a T. But her recipe serves four and I only wanted half a serving. Now, how was I to divide the cooking time by 8?? Anyway, I got on with it. Midway, I saw the 1/16th cup of mung dal sitting on the counter. Witsend I switched off the pressure cooker, let the pressure go down, transferred the contents to another pan, boiled the dal for exactly the same time, let the pressure go down and then mixed everything together. Wait - I had forgotten the salt as well, but at least, I caught that in time. But - I was out of salt! At this point, I was tempted to substitute the salt with my tears. I checked the saline content of tears online. Nope, tears were not going to work. It was late, I wasn't going to go to the grocery store; I hunted desperately and finally found the kosher salt that I got last year for some forgotten purpose. But I shed some more tears in the process because my already disorganized kitchen was now upside down. Well, semi-solid Khichdi ready. On to Pulao. The simplest Pulao that existed on earth (or internet). Done. But what was I to do with Pulao? Where is the gravy that accompanies the Pulao? Three hours of effort and I was very disappointed in myself, forget about impressing an authority figure in a hypothetical situation. I cried some more. Finally I convinced myself that a Pulao side dish was not a part of the assignment; raita will have to do. No chance of being called a proper Indian DIL(oops) now. I had a headache and found Zandu balm in the medical cabinet, but it had expired 7 years ago! More tears. Finally I had my dinner. I want to say that they all tasted okay, but what do I know? My pillow is soaked and I must sign off. PS: I am exaggerating of course, no pillows were harmed in the making of Sheera, Khichdi, Pulao.