A 50 year old red-oxide floored kitchen; a huge bubbling baandli (kadai) sits on a gas stove next to a south facing window in the brightly lit corner of that kitchen. The white wall behind the stove turned somewhat brown is spattered with black-brown blotches. A middle aged saree clad lady stands facing the window vigorously stirring the contents of the kadai, her eyebrows cringing, her arms covered in a towel to avoid all the vicious spattering.
The King of South Indian Spice Mixes
This post has been languishing in the drafts for all of summer. I must have opened this post to edit at least two dozen times and closed it each time even before a few sentences trickled down. It just did not happen. A laid back recipe made of a generous handful of summer, a good measure of what is called ‘life’, a cup of lost mojo, a tablespoon of procrastination, a teaspoon of writer’s block beat the better of a pinch of my best intentions this past season. Given my liking for the dish, ideally, this should have been one of my first few posts on this blog. Nevertheless, in spite of a pot full of excuses I did manage to get the post together finally. Hope you’ll like it.
Bitter Gourd rings simmered in freshly ground coconut, black pepper, tamarind gravy
I think about this all the time.
An Apple Pie or a Tiramisu, say a Chocolate pots de crème – people need no introduction on any of these dishes, let alone ask for ingredients. A mention of the dish is pretty much enough to lure anyone to grab and taste. This is true for many of us, isn’t it? How often does someone totally new to a dish from another cuisine get drawn to and motivated to cook it without a clue about its taste, especially when it is a typical traditional dish never seen in any restaurant?
Green Beans and Carrot in a freshly ground South Indian coconut masala gravy
As a young girl, I was always curious about the goings-on in the kitchen. Hovering around my dear aunt, the then head chef in my grand dad’s kitchen was one of my favorite pastimes. Over the years, whether it was for my keen interest or my unsolicited opinions, somewhat naturally, I had earned a say in vital decisions such as the daily menu. Vegetables would be brought fresh for the next day, the evening before, in a green tarpaulin bag. Plastic had no place then. And in the morning, before leaving for school, I would dash to the kitchen to see what’s cooking for lunch. Whenever it was green beans, there were only two ways I would love them, either in a simple stir fry with freshly grated coconut or an elaborately prepared gravy in the form of this lip smacking traditional South Indian dish. This was the recipe I wanted to learn to make first, whenever I would start cooking on my own.