Mama what is new, there for lunch today? My little one was still cribbing , seeing Dal, roti, rice and curd displayed on the dining table. I was lost in retrospect , after all you could not comply with everybody’s demands especially the kids of today, who have no dearth of choices , and so henceforth home made food is least appetising for them.
Yes I could not make everyone happy , after all I’m not kadi-chawal, yes a simple yet relishing dish which Amma made with so much ease, and all of us , the coterie of cousins ,were left fingerlicking and wanting for more. It acted as a chicken soup for hungry souls, which would make even a toothless geriatric to salivate.
But now , it was a herculean task , to break the monotony of everyday home food ,for the kids of today.
Or was it the taste that mattered, well of course , a simple pakora Kadhi and basmati rice ( cooked once in a while) tasted heavenly.
Though I have attempted to make it number of times but nothing successful has been achieved so far.
The luxurious lunch of childhood , the generous dollops of ghee, the flavours taking control of my taste buds and the table burgeoning under the weight of delicacies with steaming aroma was spread all across the ancestral home but a distant dream now.
How painstakingly she cooked for the entire family, the bout of nostalgia always hits me, when ever I attempt my most favorite dish, but not even my mother could be anywhere close to what Amma cooked.
A little perplexed, I confronted my relatives including Ma and mausis, as I felt cheated with the recepies handed over to us by Amma. As something was a miss, what ever theoretical in form of hand written recepies and practically performed on the hearth was not upto mark, the result and end product was no where close to what lip smacking delicacies were made by Amma.
Was it a peculiar case of a closely guarded secret, had she intentionally omitted a few ingredients here or there to keep her legendary stuff intact.
The magic of her home cooked meals, her culinary prowess to suit palates was something we all were lacking .
Her tried and tested recepies were doing
us no good, may be the specifications for spices and condiments to be used as ground or roasted were not revealed by Amma, may be she wanted her progeny to conduct their own experiments and discover for themselves. Or was it done intentionally, so that we all in search of that perfect taste kept asking and bumping into each other.
Was it to keep the family bonds intact , so that siblings could keep meeting each-other x, through these old age recepies.
Or was it in accordance with the Legendary stories, where in old times, daughters of the royal families were forbidden from entering the kitchens of their household, as they would spill the beans of these ancient recepies, once they got married. Therefore, by hiding one or two significant ingredients, they shielded their royal recepies.
May be she had given us incomplete recepies, in bits and pieces, to put the jigsaw puzzle together , for a perfect dish , for which an amalgamation of family was required.
Yes she was a ‘ mistress of spices ‘, but we are still struggling for that treasure box, the hunt is still on. Was it her magic wand or her ammunition box or that steel container which was the answer to the magic potion created by her and made cooking less intimidating.
May be answer lies in her spice box, with all ingredients , ranging from powdered spices to Kadha masalas to condiments ,she knew the secret recepie of a successful dish, which implied a right mix of all ingredients, a simple yet honest cooking and garnished with generosity.
For sure these were her secret spices to successful cooking and food served with oodles of love, where the whole family came together for meals, and like last supper believed in sharing and eating together. Simple yet appetising kadi-chawal was relished and became a vital source of Ammas love, keeping everyone content and happy.