Thatha’s garlic love

Did you notice today’s date? Its 20th May, yeah! But if you write it like May 20, 2020, it looks and sounds so magical. I have this thing for looking for numbers that repeat or those numbers that make a rhythmic sound when pronounced. Maybe it is a genetic trait from appa. He always looks at numbers and finds rhythms in them. That was something he did as a natural and no wonder, the Telephones department where he worked, found him to be irreplaceable.

The month of May always reminds me of my thatha (paternal). I just don’t remember my thatha’s birthday but the day he left this world is something that I cannot forget. This May 13th was his 25th death anniversary. He was always there with me from the day I was born and I never wondered about his birthdate. But one fine day, he was no more and that date is stuck with me forever.

Thatha’s presence was always there at home. Starting from deciding on the menu for lunch to dinner, planning to go out, temple trip, tv program schedules, vegetable shopping – anything and everything had thatha in it in some form. He will have a request for everyone, a word for everything that went on in the house.

He was an expert on naming people, including my appa also!

If there is one thing which he loved the most it was garlic and he had done well by passing on those garlic love to all his lineage. My amma stood at the opposite pole of thatha when it came to garlic. She wouldn’t even touch it with her hands. But she cooked all the garlic dishes so well, especially the poondu kuzhambu is something out of the world.

This is precisely the reason why thatha used to have a say in the menu of the day; he decides the days when garlic can be cooked. Since he used to fast on Mondays and Amavasya, he made sure that garlic is not cooked even for us – the children of the house. He just didn’t want to miss eating garlic!

Sometimes, we use to pester amma to make poondu kuzhambu (garlic kuzhambu) and if it happens to collide with thatha’s fasting days, she will hesitate.  But we will pester even more and she will eventually agree to cook the delicious kuzhambu.

When the smell of frying garlic wafted through the rooms to that sharp nose of thatha, his loud voice will suddenly boom through the house make an announcement “today’s fasting cancelled”! Ha ha…everyone at home laughed out loud about how garlic ruled his heart and other things like fasting took a backseat.

Dear thatha, if you are alive today, you would have cherished the poondu kuzhambu which I cook! Always in love with you and with the enormous simplicity of your love for me!

My “go to spot” at home!

This is the view from my kitchen window, which faces the western sky!
And this is my favorite spot at home!

I stand here, watching the clouds swim by while I wash vessels.
I occasionally take my cutting board with vegetables and stand near the window!
I stand there to sip coffee.
I try to fill bottles with drinking water standing and staring at the blue sky!
I watch the moving clouds as I drink water.
I try to take my calls in my kitchen, where I sit on the kitchen top and still can watch the clouds.
I stand there to feel the gentle breeze on me.
I don’t need any reason to stand in my favorite spot but I guess I like making up the reasons 😃

Pal Kozhakattai

Whenever amma made kalandha sevai (rice vermicelli mixed with coconut or lemon), it was an arduous task. She used to make the processed rice flour, then make a dough with hot water. And then cook them again in boiling water and transfer it to the sevai nazhi (sevai making machine) which was hand-pressed. The arduous task eases down and joy overrides when the strands of sevai fall seamlessly from the sevai nazhi. The long strands of sevai were thoroughly enjoyed when we eat them. A slightly similar comparison will be the noodles that the kids slurp in one go.

The best part is always for the last. After making the sevai, there will be leftover rice dough which will be then rolled into small round balls and cooked gently. Jaggery will be added and crushed cardamom will be sprinkled. Coconut milk will be poured and mixed. And that is the definition of home-made heaven, which is called the pal kozhakattai. The simple and delicious dessert to be eaten after the sumptuous meal of coconut and lemon sevai.

Making pal kozhakattai is like a nostalgic journey into the kitchen of my patti and amma, sitting there next to them in my pavadai sattai (Long skirt and blouse), helping in the pressing of the sevai nazhi, waiting impatiently for the sevai process to be done so that patti will start making pal kozhakattai.

A dish as simple as this reminds me of my patti’s soft hands and the way she will smile at me for making my favourite dish.

A dish that is reminiscent of my petite patti and the way she does magic in the kitchen!

The taste of Pal kozhakattai in my mouth just takes me back to the times when I am still a little girl lying on the lap of my paati – the sweetest part of my childhood!

And here it is paati, this is for you, made by me in my kitchen!