“Turn your face towards me and sleep!”
“No, me! Last night she slept with her face turned to you – it’s my turn today!”
“No, it was Akka’s turn last night and yours before that so it’s mine today!”
And the argument goes on till the eldest in question – Akka – gives up in disgust and announces that she is going to sleep on a mat on the floor!
The arguers are my younger daughter Kanchana and my nephew – her cousin, Adarsh, who is spending the summer with us. Born within a year or so of each other, equally self-willed, their fights are legendary and often involve us separating the two by sheer physical strength! I have on one memorable occasion emptied a mug of water over the two!
We had only one bedroom which was air-conditioned and in the Madras summer, it was inevitable that everyone piled in there – any which way. Hubby being away much of the time, three kids and I would sleep on the extra-large bed. Bedtime was always fun because it was storytelling time.
The kids used to take turns to sleep on either side of me so they could watch me closely while I told them stories – and thus began the arguments – my turn, no, mine ad infinitum! My protests were unheard – after all, I was known to be forgetful and couldn’t be trusted to keep track of whose turn it was correctly! No Shylock could have been as jealous of guarding their privileges as these two were! Arch, my peace-loving older daughter, removed herself from the stakes very early in the game!
If we couldn’t get the argument settled early enough, the fight would erupt on the bed and spill over on to the floor, with the two wildcat protagonists rolling over and over and trying to pull each other’s hair off!
Finally settled, I would start the stories and god forbid I change one word from the previous version! Since most of these came out of my imagination combined with a really poor memory, these kids who loved everything to be just the same, must have suffered agonies with the number of different versions they had to hear – of the same story!
Before they went to sleep though, very often I was the one who went off to the land of nod and had the extremely unpleasant experience of having two bony (both of them!) little kids, digging their elbows into my sides, gently (by their reckoning!) prising apart my eyelids to ask me, in very concerned whispers, “Are you asleep?” Duh, no, Santa just sewed my eyelids together!
Loads of food experimentation was the other thing they – and I – loved and continue to love… like this recently discovered dish from Maharashtra… the crunchily delicious…
BISCUIT PURI/Masala puri recipe adapted from the original by Pratibha Rao of the Indian Food Court
FOR THE PURI COVERING
- Bajre ka atta – 1/2 cup
- Makki ka atta – 1/2 cup
- Kambu puttu flour – 1/2 cup
- Plain atta – whole wheat flour – 1/2 cup
- Maida / plain flour – 1/2 cup
- Buttermilk – about 1 – 1.5 cups
- Ghee – 1 tsp
- Oil – 1 tsp
Knead all these into a not-too-soft dough. Cover and set aside for an hour
- Fine semolina/rava – 1 cup – roast for 5 minutes till you get a nutty aroma. Do not let it brown.
- Sambar powder – 1 tsp
- Chili powder – 1/2 tsp
- Dhaniya/coriander pwd – 1/2 tsp
- Jeera/cumin pwd – 1/2 tsp
- Asafoetida – 1/8 tsp
- Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
- Curry leaves – 3 sprigs – microwave for 2 minutes till crisp
- Copra/dry coconut – grated – 2 tbsp
- Jaggery grated or sugar – 1 tsp
- Amchoor powder – 1/2 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Ghee – 1 tsp
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add all the powders and the copra. Roast for a few minutes. Add the rava, jaggery, salt and curry leaves. Mix well with your fingers to a fine breadcrumb consistency.
Oil to deep fry. Divide the dough into lime sized balls. Roll out into puris. Drop 1 heaped tsp of the masala powder in the centre and gather the edges to make a bundle. Flatten and roll out again to discs of about 2 mm thickness, using a little flour to dust. Roll very carefully as the dough can develop holes and the stuffing leak out.
The original recipe calls for a plain four (maida) dough but these are healthier and tastier and absorb very little oil.
Heat the oil and slip in the puris. Fry till golden brown and crisp – it will take about two minutes for each puri.
These puris stay crisp for several hours – ideal to make ahead and keep. Serve with mint chutney or plain – they are quite yummy with nothing at all – sort of self-saucing!