Andaza: roughly translated to mean “just about” or “loose estimate”
About eight years ago when I first got married I showed up to my new apartment thousands of miles from family and friends with a handful of pots and no idea how to use them. After we spent a few days dining out, the time came that someone was going to expect me to cook something. The only slight complication was I didn’t know how to cook. Now granted K couldn’t cook either, but being as I was home the responsibility fairly fell on me. I went to the store and bought things I remembered my mom buying when she made aloo gobee and then proceeded to call my mother in a state of panic.
Me: Aloo Gobee? Gah. How?
Mom: It’s the easiest thing beta. Sautee an onion, add some spices, chop up the aloo gobee and. .
Me: Wait. How many onions?
Me: What spices?
Mom: Hmm, salt, chili, coriander. . .
Me: Wait, how much?
Mom: Bus, andaza se
Me: Andaza? How much? A teaspoon? A tablespoon?
Mom: Silence. You know, I never thought about it. I just used andaza.
Over the next few weeks my mom and I began cooking over the phone. She made a dish and we talked on the phone, me jotting down the recipe as she quantified her andazaas. Well, she would say, it looks like the chili I use is about a quarter teaspoon for this quantity. And I would proceed to cook it according to the exact measurements she provided.
A few weeks ago while my family visited I decided to make a brunch of omelets, pancakes, toast, and hashbrowns. The hash browns were a big hit and I made them two days in a row. After the second morning my mother approached me.
Mom: Your abu likes the hashbrowns, how do you make it?
Me: It’s the easiest thing ami! Chop the potatoes, add salt, pepper, cinnamon. . .
Mom: Wait. How many potatoes? How much salt?
Me: Silence. Um, I don’t know, just you know, andaza se.
Wow how tables turn. It feels just like yesterday that those words, andaza se felt as foreign as cooking itself.