“Chuckle, chuckle, tee… hee… giggle giggle… hahahahaHAHAHAHA… THUD… OUCH!” goes my eighteen-year old brother Arvind. It is a lazy Saturday afternoon and he’s lying in bed, or rather falling out of bed, engaged in his favourite occupation – one of Wodehouse’s books!
Cut to some twenty years later and I freeze – there are ghosts in the house! There are muffled giggles, preceded by muted teehees and followed by louder chuckles, culminating in belly-warming laughter! I shake myself off – there are NO such things as ghosts. It’s two in the afternoon, so I am pretty successful! Now, if it had been the witching hour, I’d have probably pulled the blankets over my head (in Madras? Really? Blankets? You buy that??!!) and shivered in a display of the utmost pusillanimity with no shame!
But, like I said, it is afternoon and armed with nothing more menacing than my sharpest knife in one hand and an open dabba of red chili powder in the other, I tiptoe to the bedroom… to find my daughter Archana, in an eerie re-enactment of my brother’s enjoyment of Wodehouse’s unmatched comedy, rolling on the bed, clutching her stomach as she tries to control her laughter!
Having started reading when she was short of five years old, we have never succeeded in (and to tell you the truth, having gone through the same thing in my own childhood, I never really tried very hard!) in separating Arch from a book for more than a few minutes at a time! The only punishments that I ever levied on her (and there weren’t too many of these!) were to withdraw reading privileges for a day or two depending on the seriousness of the infarction. These were always extremely painful – for both of us – she’d look at me as I read with such pleading in her eyes that I had to forgive her or put myself through the same punishment – of not reading! Both happened!
Now my little one, on the other hand, hated sitting down for longer than three minutes at a stretch and while she could read perfectly well by the time she was six, the agony of missing out on some game that was going on outside the window was too much to bear – the book was abandoned to its fate! The first time she finished reading a book – it was one of the Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton, she was about seven and the sense of achievement (she’d agonised over it for four months!) couldn’t be contained within her pores – as she danced, jumped on and off chairs, ran around the house and generally did a pretty decent imitation of an excitable monkey! Today, she is another bookworm – well and truly converted!
Obviously, such an achievement had to be celebrated – as we do with everything else in our lives! With this completely yummy, never-enough, sweet-sour-hot dish which is served at all Tamil weddings and other occasions…
(Recipe courtesy my mother-in-law)
- 2 cups mixed fruit – chopped – apple, mango, banana, grapes (these are left whole), pineapple
- Green chilies – sliced – 2
- Tamarind paste – 1 tsp
- Jaggery – 1.5 tsp
- Chili powder – 1/2 tsp
- Mustard powder or paste – scant half a tsp
- Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
- Red chili – 1 – broken
- Oil – 2 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
- Asafoetida – 1/8 tsp
- Curry leaves – 2 sprigs – i like to microwave these and crush them over the dish at the end
Heat the oil in a pan and add the tempering ingredients. Add the green chilies and fry. The urad dal must be fried till golden brown. Add the jaggery, salt, chili powder fruit, tamarind paste and a little water – about 1/2 a cup. Cover and cook for a few minutes till the fruits are tender but retain their shape a little. Some of the fruit will cook over and form a thick gravy – great!
Add the mustard powder and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes more. Switch off and serve as a side with a meal.
I just stick my fingers in and lick them off!
Perfect accompaniment to Wodehouse!
Pic: Courtesy internet