My lighter vein is becoming lighter and lighter and fading into oblivion. Therefore this post.
This evening found me and a colleague in a conspiracy. We decided to window-eat ( a gourmand’s version of window shopping).. contrary to popular opinion against woodworms and termites, window-eating is a form of art. It requires culinary skills to identify the ingredients of a succulent sweet hidden under glazed paper and reject it for lack of cardamom. We are experts, believe me. 😉
Of course I am just playing around. The fact is that the evening found us craving for bajjis. Ah! Bajjis. Remember how the slices of potatoes, dipped in orange flour paste, falls into a simmering lake of oil. How they come out golden brown and gleaming, draped in a thin layer of soft and crisp flour, the potatoes slightly bland and fried. The teeth sink into the hot spongy outer layer and bites at the potato in the core. It is another art form altogether discovering what is hidden under the skin of a bajji. Would it be a heavenly potato flake, a succulent layer of onion or a bitter brinjal? You never know until you’re well into it – almost like a relationship. 😐
Therefore, my friend, lifesaver, and chocolate-provider invited me to Mylapore, the land of magical tradition coexisting with mini-skirts and ipods. We had to elude the mammoth lorries, the cluelessly-fast bikers and the U-turn-loving autos. I heard myself swearing at a car that overtook me from the left, landing my forewheel into a pot-hole and subsequently ourselves following suit. Thus, we were suitably absurdified so much so we felt at home. By the time we reached the land of banana leaves overflowing with bajjis and bondas, I had aggravated my neck pain and my friend’s bottom had lost it capacity for reacting to external stimuli — I knew of this purely by word-of-mouth.
When we parked my bike, we had the helpful onlooker popularly known as anukoola shatru — I don’t know how to translate this word. Someone else can help me out perhaps. This man asked us to push the bike a bit forward, and a bit towards the back, and then to the side and so on before he was convinced that it did not block him from crossing over to the opposite side of the road.
Now I went with her, completely trusting her in matters of food. Of course, if I had forgotten to mention earlier, she sits next to me at work. She was fattening me up with unobtainable food like like Kumbakonam Gulab Jamoons, banana chips — made from the fruit, home-made thenkozhal, and such until the management came thundering down upon us with an order that we should not feed our pet hamsters at our workstations. No rodents allowed and therefore no food allowed at workstation. I even had to forget my plan to put up a picture of Mickey mouse next to me.
Now I was led through alleys and by-lanes by my navigator. We stopped in front of a house where a fat man sat handing food out through the window. The shop next door was selling curious items like karukkaali, naayuruvi, vishwamitrar dharbai, vashishtar dharbai, iyengar kayaru, and samithu. I was completely bewildered. In my usual fashion, my mouth was opening and closing like a goldfish without the speech bubbles. My friend caught me with her ancient marinator eye. I responded with the eyes of terminator’s victim.
In a few minutes, we had hot steaming potato bajjis on our plates. I was gobbling them up with not a care in the world. Absolutely no complaints. My friend went on to eat a plate of bondas and me a plate of idlis, all of these carefully soaked in delectable sambar and coconut chutney. We packed a few bondas for the poor mortals at home. All of these cost us Rs. 34 wonlee.
The spice had begun to sink in on me. I was sounding like a pressure cooker now. Ssss… ssss…. ssss… I went on and on till my friend asked me if I wanted kesari. We ended up eating jangiris and gulab jamoons at Surya sweets. Finally I came home with a tummy full of happiness. 🙂