You got a cup, Dad? In praise of American toilets!!


Over a week in California and we’re feeling like we have been on a state visit (please note that we have now switched to the royal “We” to refer to ourselves!) We are also needing to be taken down a peg or two, we thinks! Also maybe to put our heads in a shrinking machine?!

Feeling like we’ve seen every corner of California but I am assured (hey, who put that shrinking machine on my head while i was sleeping?!!) that we’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg. We are coming back!

Long road trips – twelve hundred kilometres in two days, not counting the many shorter trips over the week and I feel like I’ve got wheels on my feet – not to mention needing a bladder stopper!

Have been blessing the American loos – plentiful, clean (in general) and just about everywhere! My mind goes back to the many dozens of road trips in India over the past thirty-odd years… we – husband and kids – love road trips – there is no rush to catch a train or a flight, there is no need to squash our belongings into suitcases which are always too small (wonder why – considering we possess every size of suitcase ever made!) and we can spread out – little bags and potlams (makeshift bags!) all over. Unfortunately, long road trips in India accompanied by small bladders do not a happy combination make! Frantic stops with a loo made of three shawls and a prayer for the fourth side (prayer that there was no one there!) were the norm!

Things have improved considerably with the toll plazas but it’s still a bit of a frantic business – as a friend – also with two daughters – all blessed with small capacities, realises!

Forty five minutes into the trip, the first stop is called. Designated driver (always the dad in this case), still in an obliging holiday mood, stops quite happily. Forty minutes and absolutely no liquid having been imbibed by anyone, the second stop is called!

His “But… but, we just… “ protests are overruled… he doesn’t know anything about it! Three hours and six stops later, he is bargaining for more driving time  – just another hundred kilometers more… (I admire this guy – having the guts to even try and stand up to three women with insistent plumbing!)… The littlest daughter ( all of ten years old, by the way) puts the matter firmly in perspective. “Okay, dad, we’ll wait, but, you got a cup?”! Dad pulls up – two kilometres away! The man has learnt his lesson – capitulation is the only possible course of action if he wants his car seat to last a year more!

With this dish, he’d probably have capitulated earlier!

UPPUDU PINDI/UPPINDI (Raw rice rava with moong dal upma)

  • Raw rice – 1.5 cups – wash and spread out to dry on newspaper or cloth for half an hour. Grind to a coarse rava – semolina like consistency. Resist the temptation to grind it finer – the uppindi will become pasty.
  • Moong dal/pesarapappu/green gram – 1/2 cup – soak for half an hour
  • Crushed peppers – 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera/cumin – crushed – NOT powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Green chili – minced – 1
  • Ginger – grated – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida – 1 large pinch
  • Turmeric – optional- 1 pinch
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Salt
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Ghee – 1 tsp
  • Hot water – 4 cups
  • Fried cashewnuts – optional but HIGHLY recommended!

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the jeera, pepper, curry leaves, ginger, green chili and asafoetida. Saute for a minute. Add turmeric if using.

Add the soaked dal and saute for 3 minutes.

Add the rice rava and saute for a couple of minutes more.

Pour in the hot water in a stream, stirring constantly.

Add salt.

Cover and cook for about 12- 15 minutes. Do NOT add more water – heed the lesson taught in the story!

Pour over the ghee and switch off. Cover and let it rest for 3-4 minutes before serving with avakai/pachi pulusu (blogged earlier)

Guaranteed rest stops for hours if you serve this!