How many of you can remember your patti’s kaipakkuvum? I come from a joint family system where uncles, aunts and galore of cousin team up to make an experience well worth it. A brahmin household is teamed with specific food items which are exclusive to that community.
Our signature food items come in a set. Like Vetrikuzhumbu with Parruppu Thovaiyal, Sutappalam with tomato rasam seasoned in ghee and spluttered mustard, Adai with Avaiyal and Idli with Milagaipodi.
Ah! When I think of Milagaipodi, I am reminded of my mother, I learned the making this side-dish from her. When she religiously makes it and the visitors praise her effort, I think my mother felt great pride in her cooking.
Since the making of podi quantity was for a larger audience, so, I felt it was easier to buy them for just a single user. I have been searching for that specific amma’s brand of milgaipodi and have been sadly disappointed. Since even the Sharada Stores ones also was not close to Amma’s style. About a few days back one of my new friends suggested that I try Idlies an outlet of all Brahmin cuisine to check out the Podi.
I was nervous but then, I knew I am being guided by the authentic source. When I tried the Podi this past Saturday, I was lost in thoughts and missed my mom the most. I felt sentimental and remembered how my grandmother used to have idles, podi and curd combo.
There are some stylistic preferences that one would almost remember WB Yeats’ poem A Prayer for My Daughter, where he explains how girls eat crazy salads. In many ways, life is about food and various unique ways that people have it. Like for instance, having curd rice with mixture or omapodi. There are some really weird combos and I have such preferences too.
The interesting part was the fact that Podi’s package had one of the best themes and the color combo was simply fantastic. The touch of color scheme and the caricature of grandmom with the little girl in the kitchen was such a wonderful design theme.
But I am more used to the Meenakshi Ammal “Cook And See” the every new bride’s mother’s gift to her daughter. I tell you, Meenakshi Ammal used words that were hard to understand. She spoke about how to cook rice on Vengalapanai. Of course, she would describe how to do the scare thing of draining excess water.
But there was much that I learned from cooking various dishes. My mother taught me a few signature dishes which I kept repeating but I would experiment too sometimes. There are days when I feel like cooking up a storm and there are days when I would not move my being to even boil water.
But there are days, when I feel truly inspired to create a most complicated dish I take all efforts. Pappaji loved my subzi and amma didn’t like Northern spices. So I had to strike a balance for both of them. Among the many things, there is a certain food that reminds me of specific people in my family.
Food always brings the family together and binds us in a common understanding of people who you love-hate and everything in between. Podi reminded me of three people when I tasted with my idlies. My athai who passed away recently and she was a rock of Gibraltar in the kitchen. The food preparation was a joint effort of all the brothers, daughters-in-law and athai. Athai used to be the main cook with my mother making sure she gets the ingredients that are needed. So when my athai makes Podi it is wonderful to taste.
The brahmin household is never bereft of this ingredient. It is a quick breakfast side-dish solution. If you are pressed for time and cannot make the chutney, use the Podi, the all-purpose side-dish for Idly and Dosa. If the hunger factor is beyond a bearable point, pull a plate, make some quick swish Dosas and have it with podi. The countless joy of having that podi was to refresh the mind of past memories of my childhood.