Toor-en and tattered!

It was that time of the month again when we had to push the carts and get home bagfuls of grocery that’ll last a month. For us, the list is always a savior. Not just does it give us a sense of direction, it also ensures that we for one, don’t forget anything, and two, we don’t buy anything unnecessary. Then comes the budget. Yes, we (the middle class) have budgets that we need to take seriously and Mr list also keeps us all leashed up.

However, in the past few months, the lists and the budgets have all started to go haywire. Why you ask? Every month, the dals have a new price, a higher one, to be specific. Therefore, as soon as one steps into the supermarket or kirana store by the corner, quantities are slashed, but the bills remain the same.

To add to that, the whole price spike has become a homemaker’s nightmare. With toor dal borderlining the monstrous 200 figure mark, there is a big question mark as to what to cook and serve so that the pockets don’t burn with rage.

We are very quick to blame the government for this plight of ours and why not. But the government is trying every trick in the book to keep a check on this unruly price rice. The fact of the matter is, the prices of dals have increased in the last few months due to a fall in domestic output by about 2 million tonnes (mt) to 17.20 mt in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) owing to deficient monsoon and unseasonal rains.

So, the next season when it rains, feel happy because it’ll amount to raining cash, in every sense of the term.

Picture this. The toor dal that’s selling at 200 per kilogram today could have been ours last year for just Rs 85. The urad that’s a proud kitchen possession today at Rs 170 was selling at Rs 98 last year. This spike has been a great blow to many people’s shoestring budgets and definitely a great hit to people who have to manage everyday cooking. This being the festive season doesn’t help one bit, as guests and obligations are a part and parcel of this season.

With the prices of the dals soaring no end, the days when a vegetarian would be able to chuckle have long gone. While for the non-vegetarians the budgets are always a bit more flexible and bigger thanks to non vegetarian food items being a few notches more expensive than the vegetarian fare, the tables have turned. It now looks like a vegetarian’s platter would be more expensive than the ones with chicken. mutton or fish. Sigh!

First it was the onion price that made us cry and now it’s the dals. Many people believe that the beef ban has caused this sorry state of affairs, but why should be blame beef for everything, I ask. Either ways, the acche din will arrive only when food becomes affordable.

For now, here are some tips to make use of your dals economically.

  • Mix some masoor dal with toor dal. Or simply replace the toor with masoor.
  • Add finely chopped pumpkins or carrots to your dal. They’ll give it volume and richness and you can then go slightly easy on the toor consumption.
  • Consume seasonal vegetables prepared with a lot of gravy. That way, on a few days, you can skip preparing the dal.
  • Instead of making dal and rice, opt for a nice khichdi. That way, you’ll consume less dal without compromising on the taste.
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