“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feeding the family

1. Seer Masala
In the kitchen I make Seerfish curry for my son. Seer fish ( Neyymeen/Ayykoora in Malayalam) is the prima donna among the fish-eaters' favorites in Kerala. K is home and I had promised to make him a curry based on Melange's reciepe (http://www.desimelange.com/2011/02/nei-meen-vattichathu-seer-fish-in-thick.html). 

Buying fresh fish from the fishmongers at Pangode Market is an unclean experience; physically and mentally. One has to cross meters of slush that reek of fish and puddles created by the melting ice so as to reach the ladies who squat/sit there beneath the large muti-coloured umbrellas. However you may try, the bottom of your trousers would get soaked in the above said stinko. And the respectable ladies - whew! I am terrified of them and they scent my fear like baying hounds. I am torn in different directions by the calls and shouts of the ladies - by the time I get through, I am a nervous wreck and surrender myself before the most - uh - um - yes- most beautiful, most loving, most polite, most courteous, most generous ( Psst! One can never know, one of those fisherwoman might read this blog!) ladies and obediently buy whatever they may feel like offering and pay whatever they may deem to ask and accept whatever pittance of a discount they may grandly condescend to give, and rush out of the market and inhale a cigarette deeply and thank God for saving me.

At home, I take a printout of Melange's reciepe of 'Neyymeen Vattichathu' and check the fridge and meatsafe. For a change, everything, from Kashmiri chilly powder to coconut oil is available. I marinate as directed, keep it for an hour and cook the fish. Pleasant aroma fills the kitchen. Sancho looks at me expectantly and he gets the first piece of the fish curry. I take photographs, not good. K likes the curry, though for my taste it is still a bit bland; I like them searing  hot, burning my fingers and throat. I watch K, pouring the thick gravy over rice and eat the delicate, succulent fish.

Melange' has become a family member now; how curiously strange that a totally unknown person, known except through her fantastic reciepes and astute comments in the blogosphere could become familiar!


2. Peas Masala

 (courtsey: the net) 

Day before yesterday, our friend Christy and her son Aravind were with us in the evening. As dinner time came up, K volunteered to go out and buy food. Paththiri, Parantha, some chicken, some other chicken and yet some other chicken. K and Aravind come back swinging large packets. P asks - 'Ok,w hat have you bought for me?' Our faces blanch. It is the Navrathri season and P eats only vegetarian. 'Thats all right', she says, 'I will manage with lunch leftovers'. From the rich experience of 21years of wedded life, I know that it is not all right. We shall have to suffer its repercussions far into the future. So I offer to make her a curry. A quick scan of the fridge produce frozen peas, tomato, green chillies, ginger, curry and coriander leaves, Nambisan's Ghee. From the shelves I gather large onions, garlic, black pepper and homemade masala powder. Inside ten minutes, I defrost the peas, saute the Onion and chillies and curry leaves and rest of the spices ground, spalsh tomato sauce liberally, garnish with coriander leaves and lace it with the exquistely fragrant ghee. A pinch of sugar added and I serve it hot. Among the technicolor chicken, my Masala looks like a meek virgin. The curry is not as spicy and hot as I would like, because P likes it mild.

At the dining table, the non-vegetarians taste the Peas Masala and then abandon all the chicken curries in its favour and keep on uttering 'Yummmm... Yummmmm... Yummmm...'. P ends up getting only a small share of her rightful Masala, but is gratified and looks at me affectionately.

********** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 04-10-2011


  1. Mr B - i have started having a feeling that you are a much more evolved human than most others, who excels in every thing you practice, from the travel to the blog and the chefs attire for the loved ones.. cheers to all these passions of your life which makes you an excellent specimen to show cause mans intelligence and integrity and excellence :)

  2. I was drooling at the pictures and the preparations...

    The tomato lotus only adds to the appeal but your love for P tops it all!

  3. Preparing peas curry was thoughtful of you. Melange would be delighted to know that you tried her recipe.

    Yeah I endorse Ousu's views. :)

  4. Oh,that was beyond predictions.Thank you so much for trying out the recipe and the touching words there.

    But I caught you there why you enjoy smoking this much.The mere mention of pangode fish market,I am having sincere feelings for you.I didn't go inside ever.The surroundings itself say it all.Btw,Vazhuthakkadu roadside had some women fish vendors as well no ? or they are expelled from there as part of city beautification ?

    It's not the peas curry,the simple dedication gone into that would have made it divine.P's Navarathri rocks.Isn't it ?

    God Bless,

  5. Congrats on surviving the the horrors of a fish market... I used to fight with my Mom when she used to ask me to go with her to the Market (but of course i had but little options)...
    BTW the fish curry looks tasty...
    (It would have looked even more tastier if inside a "chatti"...) the photo seems to have carried some aroma as well.. My mouth is watering now... hehe...

  6. The tryst with peas masala- fear of the repercussions brought out the dish. In Chinese, the meaning for crisis is as in the Anglican language. But the sub character means "opportunity".

    So a dangerous repercussion has been turned around into an opportunity!

    Indeed Melange is now the name for taste buds.

  7. @Ousu: "But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads ?" -Albert Camus.

    Achieving harmony may not be a permanent state of mind for ordinary mortals like us; we are fortunate if we can catch a falling star once in a while. I am not fully what you said - like everyone else, maybe in parts...

    @NRI: It tasted so good that it was finished off at lunch itself! :-D

    @Insignia: Making Peas Masala was not a 'thoughtful' act; nor was it out of 'fear of repercussions' as Anil says; it was an instinctual act - one has to have love in one's heart.

    @Melange: Vazhuthacaud fish vendors are still there, but in the morning you get comparatively fresh fish at the Edapazhanji ( Pangode) market and cheaper also, so we believe! Thank you for that great treat of a recipe!

    @Rahul: We don't have a fish chatti at home! :-/ Because cooking fish is a very rare event! The curry was really good! :-)

    @Anil: Thank you for your informative comment!

  8. Balan, well read the word "fear" substituted as "foresight" and the comment in lighter vein .
    Hope that clarifies.


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