There are different varieties of Indian Flatbreads such as Chapattis, Rotis, Fulkas, Parathas, open oven baked naans, kulchas and endless list of Indian breads varying based on regions in India. I come from a South Indian family where Idlies and sambar rice are the given. But surprisingly, my parents had in their initial married life had settled in the North for a while, so their children are a beautiful cusp of the north and the south.
“Life is always been a joy” – would be a true social media lie. Life at home was topsy-turvy all the time, but our craziness makes us the best in the world for me. I come from a huge family whose first half of my father’s siblings were Nagpurian ideologically but with Triplicane, Chennai Big Street Puliyar visiting people in religious outlook and while the second half was completely conservative South-Indian siblings. My father is the centerpiece in his list of siblings. Above him he had two elder brothers and his elder sister and below him he had three younger brothers.
When you watch the entire family get together for my grandfather’s anniversary it used to be so spectacular to meet the groups of liberals and conservative minds with healthy arguments and disagreements. I loved playing the catalyst sometimes to ask them questions which would begin the interesting conversation that would heighten my awareness of life generally. I enjoyed those dialogues and the way they would split the tasks and be sincere in their homage to their father’s spirit and later when grandmother passed away it was another experience. That said let us get back to flatbreads, shall we!
Flatbreads Were Srivatsam Specialty
In our house making flatbreads started with Parathas. Though surprisingly once or twice we experimented with stuffed parathas, but then, we dropped back to our flatbreads regular as usual! There was such joy in the making of flatbreads.
For me flatbreads meant falling in love and raising to greatness non-parallel. The smells that generates from the kitchen in the making of the flatbreads are exceptional and truly spiritual for me. I would soak up the warmth of the stove, the smells, the texture, the conversations, and the whole works.
For me flatbreads would always be amma and appa. During my college days I began helping out in the kitchen, until I got to 30 plus, back then, my mother would always be a presence in the kitchen even though she agreed that I make the one dish (breakfast or tiffin or one-dish dinner). Initial days, I used to help with making rotis, chapattis, fulkas and parathas along with amma.
First Task That I Got in Amma’s Kitchen
Amma will not relinquish her command on the kitchen for anyone, that was a known fact for all. So, getting tasks assigned as mine was rare opportunity. I used to make the dough for the flatbreads. I learned to make dough that my mother liked and later years she experimented with my style dough and praised me for nailing it. I live for people to appreciate my handy work, but then, sometimes, if you see a person hungrily polish off the dish and ask for a second helping, that is the right give back for the love I put in the dish.
So, in slow process I learned to make dhall fry and appa’s jal walah subzi with cauliflowers, onions and potatoes, carrots, bean, peas, and ginger-garlics. It used to be cooked in low flames and it used to really hone everyone’s appetite until I would pronounce it as done. No wonder, the herd was famished for the roties (Geez! Evil!)
For Me Cooking Is an ENT Roundup of Love!
Cooking is never just about making food, it was about texture, smells, sounds, touch, and feeling the love rise with the puffing flatbreads. The very smell of cooking flatbreads used to fill me up and I would need an hour to get my appetite back.
I have made flatbreads with so many of them. I was lucky to make flatbreads with my amma, appa, Raman, Mala, Jo, and communally at Bunny’s home. Making flatbreads were not about having a competition. It was about making love that fed all and it was an exceptional feeling of warm motherhood of nurturing. Every Individual with whom I have made flatbreads are linked in my life permanently.
I fear the kitchen and frightened of people who are exceptionally good at it. For me, I need to revive up my mental engine to work in a kitchen. Even the most familiar kitchen would look like a war zone. I need to wait until the inner determination gets affirmed then I will walk in confidently into the kitchen, until then, I suffer from starting trouble and images of being at war with the kitchen. Once I conquer the kitchen’s images then it is a matter of linking up my spirit and then it is genuine love, while making the food for family.
Making Flatbreads and Connecting Spiritually
Every time that I made flatbreads with everyone it was different. But I have only made flatbreads with family and no strangers so far. Somehow did not get the opportunity for it. I am usually a chatter bug when I am rolling flatbreads and I am quieter when I am tossing the flatbreads on the tawa. So, I am different with each task. But at all time, I am spiritually alert.
I believe that the kitchen is where you can make relationship and built on them. I think you can bond well when you are cooking. I would highly recommend cooking together. It does not mean you are in the same room, but you contribute to the finally brought out dishes.
My Dream Cooking Partner Is My Cousin Jo
I do not know, if Jo even remembers this incident. But I had visited her in Sunnyvale home where she was planning a weekend date with her friends and there was a last-minute request for another side-dish. A raincheck happened on the available veggies and dish was scrambled together. There appeared the wonderful experience of love-cooking. We made a dish of gobi-aloo subzi. Mind you I was super nervous on that day because I had just arrived at her home and I did not get to acclimatize myself in her kitchen. I did not even know how to switch on the stove, OMG!
We made the dish between the two of us. So we made a rough split of tasks and decided on who did what as the dish progressed. So, whenever I missed out in the addition of the masala, Jo would add them. If we faced a moment when the fire was high, Jo would quickly fix heat level of the stove to low or high based on need.
We managed to make the dish and it was so magically done, that I thought, I was having a déjà vu of my entire dream of the perfect life-partner concept. I was so caught up in the magic that I feared that if I might turn around and give my cousin a tight hug for the experience of such soul moving connection, by the way, which is so not done!
In the confusion of the moment I blinked my eyes twice or thrice while Jo boxed the dish to travel. I kept telling myself this is not happening to me! I remember telling Jo also about it. So now these days I try to work with different people in their or my kitchen and understand the human dynamics of relationship.
Remember, my dream husband would have been someone who would tango with me in the kitchen and cook together seamlessly. It never happened in my real marriage, but it happened when I was cooking with my cousin. That is the specialty of the Srivatsam cousins, I tell you we can tango like it is no one’s business for making the best dishes coming out from our kitchens.
I feel the best way to get to know a person or if anyone wishes to know you, then my suggestion is to try out cooking in the kitchen together while trying to make a single dish together. All the differences come upon the desk and the emotional and personal preferences, pressures of life and challenges are all under the heat from the stove and the sizzling masalas makes everything the real presence of how life will be together. Great learning can be experienced.
How to Have the Best Kitchen Manners?
I learned the best kitchen manners with amma and appa. They always knew which task belonged to which person and our joint efforts were beautiful tasty dishes made together. The key operating word here would be to cook together not to show-off by ousting your partner. That is the best way to cook with love at heart and it is definite to show up in the dish cooked for the family.
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