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