Sunday, September 04, 2011

A Recipe

The last 5 weeks of enforced eating at home has resulted in the (re)discovery of possibly the tastiest dish in the world. Recipe follows.

Prepare, order or get invited to a proper South Indian meal. It doesn't matter which state it is from, I have verified that the AP, TN and Kerala versions all suffice, and unless our Kannadiga brethren and cistern are children of a different culinary god, their version should work too.

The meal should contain (roughly): some form of podi + ghee, an oily curry of some sort (brinjal etc.), a dry-ish coconut based thing, an isotope of pulusu/kozhambu/what have you, sambar, rasam, curd, pickles, pappadam/appadam and so on. The usual stuff. Just make sure there's enough variety. A degree of license is permitted, depending on your genetics and proclivities. The Mallu may not countenance the oily brinjal curry that warms the cockles of Reddygaru's heart, but she can easily prepare this dish with a kaaLan, olan, puLi inji type of mishmash.

Having consumed all this in the order and manner prescribed by the relevant shastras, at the last moment, one is to refuse the paayasam in the plate/leaf (only for a brief while).

If you tilt your head downwards and examine the receptacle for a moment, you will find a an oily, viscous sludge. It behaves somewhat like mercury, flows sluggishly, has enough surface tension to form globules, which merge easily enough to form larger globules under the sweeping action of a palm across the plate/leaf. Bits of rice and coconut will interrupt this otherwise homogeneous medium, but do not detract from the overall effect we are questing for.

If you have done everything right, the whole sludge thing will look as though it is meant to be fused with glass and poured into stainless steel containers, later to be disposed off at Yucca Mountain type places.

But appearances are deceptive. This goo, my friends, is the Holy Grail. Slurp some of it up before it trickles down your palm and see how your mind explodes with taste and texture and memories and many other things besides. It is home, it is the world, it is tactile, it is ineffable, it is nostalgia, it is promise, it is It.


Anonymous said...

very moving post.

I was, literally, moved 2 blocks to the local Udupi, to get myself a South Indian Thali. Mit payasam. and I can attest that the Karnataka brethren and cistern, have the force with them as well.


Sheetal said...

payasam! how to get now? short of making it oneself, I mean. I once went to a payasam festival in Tiruvanthapuram, you know. Some six kinds of heaven stirred in jaggery. which would just about hit the spot now. sigh.

Ludwig said...

[Snake] Wonders will never cease, it has made you comment on blog post. Thanks for the update on the brethren and cistern, we knew they would not fail us.

Onasadya arrangements complete?

[SheetalamShyaamalam] So you do exist? Well, well. According to my cousin there are 4 lakh Malayalis in the greater Hyderabad area. Sign up at some association and walk into the relevant Onam sadya, I say. It's that time of the year.

This will not help you in anyway, but just last week I was in Cochin where my aunt fed me one hitherto untasted jackfruit and jaggery concoction. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. God, it was good...

Space Bar said...

bm: what the man said. where have you been hiding?!

sheetal: (psst. you can come home! payasam gets made here everytime people don't drink up their quota of milk).

M said...

this is torturous. my next kalayanam-pandhal saapadu is six months off. grim.

Ludwig said...

[M] Ah. But then I don't even know if/when my next fish and chips and haggis are coming. All said and done, you're doing pretty well.

Sheetal said...

Ludo, yes indeed I do although I'm trying not to.

you are most evil to mention jackfruit payasam, which is a sone pe suhaaga kind of event. The last time I acquired jackfruit, I made sambar from the seeds. Now I shall aim for this sheera.

Space Bar: just sent you mail. I will try my damnedest!

varali said...

Said jackfruit+jaggery concoction has a name. Chakka pradhaman. As you have correctly identified, it is the food of the gods.
I should know. I just downed half a bucket of the stuff.

tris said...

chee what type of mallu you are -- did not know the existence of chakka pradhaman before?