Two days off writing and I’m feeling like a junkie who hasn’t had a ‘fix’ in a while! Lying awake at night with my head buzzing with stories – all of which disappear into zero memory space in daylight! Ah well, there are always more fish in the sea that those came from!
Saw this hilarious picture this morning in one of the food sites I subscribe to – see pics above – dividing the world into two types of people – depending on how they chew their drumsticks – no, I’m not talking about the ones that come out of chickens – but the long, hard bean so beloved in the south of India and the sambar of which makes most South Indians come surging back from near-death experiences even! (Well, I don’t know about any recorded case but it would make me come back!)
Ah, but i was forgetting – the types of people depend on how they chew their murungai (munagakaada in Telugu, sahjan in Hindi – a word which I didn’t know earlier and wiki just told me) are of two types. The ones that break the individual two-inch pieces longitudinally into three segments and draw out the flesh by using their front teeth – neatly and cleanly removing the flesh and spitting out three clean-looking sticks in one designated corner of the plate – the Ambi mamas of this world, in fact! The other type who put the whole two-inch piece inside and chew and chew to extract every last possible microgram of juice from it and then spit it out in one unsightly lump – anywhere on the plate – the Raj Kirans or the Gabbar Singhs of this world, in fact!
Much like how we live life – extracting every last possible ounce out of it – the yummy, fleshy part along with the tough, fibrous parts or carefully following the middle path and getting just enough but not all – of the juice out of it! The other weird thing is that the former type always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and the latter look on the former with something akin to horror bordered with just a hint of longing!
Moringa oleifera (the name deriving from the Tamil murungai) is one of the commonest backyard trees in most kitchen gardens – in the days that we had kitchen gardens, that is… and even today, walk down any street in Chennai and you’ll see a few dozen of these trees lining the road, the long, slim fruit swaying in the breeze and begging to be plucked!
One of the most bountiful plants in the world, it gives you everything from iron (leaves), to minerals and vitamins( the flesh) to oil (seeds) and… would you believe it – soap! Yep, from the leaf powder! To top it all, it even gives you an aromatic oil – which Body Shop uses in their Moringa line of products – in fact, except for the bark (skin), everything else is useful – beauty is definitely not skin-deep in this case!
And here’s an unusual fat-free curry from Kerala – which takes about ten minutes to make.
DRUMSTICK AND POTATO CURRY
- Drumsticks – 2 large – cut into 2″ pieces
- Potatoes – 2 large – sliced into fingers
- Asafoetida – 1 pinch
To grind together:
- Fresh coconut – 2 tbsp
- Jeera/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
- Red chili – 3-4
- Spring onions/shallots – a handful
- Tomato – 1 large – chunked
Pulse these together in the mixie for a few seconds – it is a very rough, knobly paste.
Cook the drumsticks with 3 tbsp of water and the turmeric. When they are half cooked, add the potatoes, salt and the masala paste. Cover and cook till vegetables are tender – about 7 minutes.Add a little more water for the gravy.
No tempering needed. This is a superb accompaniment to plain dal and rice.
And as you eat, figure out whether you are the type who chews the daylights out of life or the sober and sensible Ambi maama!