Potatoes, Pickles & Grandma-Fairy dust
On some days, the moment I enter the gate of our apartments the aroma of food wafts in. Especially if it is lunch time. I can easily spot the Aroma from our kitchen because, well, I have known it for 27 years! My, until-then-quiet-&-happy stomach would start grumbling and the tap of my salivary gland would pop open.
My pace increases and I’ll ring the bell. When she opens the door, I’ll ask with excitement;
“What is on the stove? Is that Kaarakuttan?”
She’ll give a smile torn between astonishment, mischief & pride.
“Your nose is an evil thing!”
“It isn’t my nose! It is your gifted hands! I could get the smell from the gates!”
“Shut up! That must be from some other place.” she would pretend to not be affected by my compliments. 😛
I’d go straight to the kitchen, open the lid and inhale all the steam from the dish and Ammamma would smile, “Stop dipping your nose into the dish! Even your cousins have this habit.”
I’ll smile sheepishly and show my stomach the way to bliss 😀
We always say,
“Ammamma should go for all these cookery shows & competitions and she’ll be first everywhere.”
On second thoughts, I’d say,
“No! I don’t want anyone judging her! No one has the right to. No one is good enough to judge her! She is the best and there is no need to prove it. I do not like anyone telling her the food she makes has flaws because the flaw is in their taste buds. Ammamma’s cooking is just perfect!”
And that brings me to her Potato curry which is my all time favorite and tops my list. There are distant relatives who reminisce her potato curry and keep telling how yummy it was when they had it years back. She also makes this tangy Vendakka Pachhadi and Mulakoottal. I am a sucker for her Kaarakoottan; again so tangy and spicy that I finish almost half the quantity made for the entire family. Oh! And the avial! She makes cheera avial and the traditional Kerala Avial which I eat for lunch, snacks and dinner. Ya! She makes it in a pressure cooker up to the brim! She has spoilt our taste buds by cooking such yummy food that I just CANNOT have Vegan food from outside. There are always
something so many things amiss when the Vegan food is made by someone else. And hence I restrict myself to Paneer in Vegan restaurants. Always a safe bet.
Sometimes, I’ll be sitting with her and she’ll start narrating how certain dishes were made during ‘those days’. As she hops from one dish to another, she’ll describe the preparation of Lemon pickles. Listening to her description, my salivary glands salivate like broken taps!
“They soak these lemons in hot water so that the juice within loosens. They then dry all of them using a towel and make a cut through the centre in such a way that the pieces don’t fully detach. They grind Asafoetida, Fenugreek and dry red chillies; add salt and turmeric powder to the mixture. This mixture is then stuffed well inside these half cut lemons.”
“They then arrange these lemons inside huge Bharani (Ceramic jars used to store pickle). They arrange them tightly together. Now, they heat Gingelly oil and wait for it too cool down a bit. This is poured into the jar in such a way that the oil fully soaks the lemons. They seal the mouth of the jar using wax and leave it in the Garret for 10-15 days. Once in a while, someone would go up and stir the pickle.”
As I sit there imagining tantalising Lemons emerging from orangish-red pickle mixture dripping with oil, my tongue drowning in my saliva, she concludes;
“One tiny piece of this pickle would suffice for a meal!”
When the coffee we make do not come in par with hers, we’d say,
“Ammamma please tell us the last ingredient you use. You definitely do something else that you don’t tell us.”
“I don’t. This is all I do.”
And then, my sister & I discuss.
“Well, then we know what it is. It is her Kaipunyam (Similar to Gifted hands). It is as though there is this taste enhancer oozing from her palm.”
“I know! Maybe she just dips her finger inside the coffee, the taste enhancer enhances it. That must be it! There is no other explanation!”
Yeah! There is no other explanation! 😀
You can read the stories about Ammamma under the Category ‘Grandma Tales’ which you’ll find on the right side of this page. (Scroll down! Scroll down! ) If you don’t find it, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you love my ‘Grandma Tales’, again please leave a comment and I’ll be grinning ear to ear and replying!
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