Sunday, August 30, 2009

A forgotten taste from a lunch box…..

A forgotten taste from a lunch box…..that’s exactly what came to my mind , two weeks back when I was enjoying that plate of Aval Nanachathu. As I sat there and savored each bite, a murky memory of a similar snack wrapped me up, taking me back to those days when I looked forward to my friend M opening her lunch box during the break after three hours of lectures in the morning. If her rectangle box in red, was stuffed with white dampened beaten rice with flecks of yellow here and there, I had to get atleast a couple spoonfuls before she could satiate her hunger….I clearly remember how that natural sweetness of grated coconut gelled beautifully with the plump and white beaten rice and how moist it was even though her mother packed it early in the morning itself…..and the simplicity of the dish was further augmented by the natural sweetness from the tiny bits of our naadan nenthrappazham, a variety of ripe plantains available in Kerala. My taste-buds loved it though I generally preferred something very spicy for lunch time.

The visuals of my friend’s face and the taste memories she gifted me from her lunch box kept playing at the back of my mind for the last two weeks. Though I lost touch with my friend long back, I had never forgotten her, especially her mother. Both of them had a special place in my conversations with CJJ whenever I tried to paint a picture of those people who touched my heart and left their handprints on me. M’s mother was one of those unfortunate ones who had to confine herself to the four walls of her home because of a medical mishap that happened due to the carelessness of a medical practioner while conducting a surgery on her……..carelessness from the fraction of a second and she was a prisoner for a lifetime of infections and ill-health … imprisonment in her own house because of someone’s mistake!!

I met this woman personally only once at their place and it was hard for me to believe that she had been suffering physically all those years……though a frail and pale figure, with crevices beginning to form around her eyes, her face still beamed with a poised and warm smile ….and the ‘pottu’ , the red dot on her forehead gave a glow to her face and that day she made this snack one more time for me, knowing very well that I was quite fond of it.

As I was chewing on this slice from the past, I was also reminded of an incident M once shared with me. One evening when she reached home from college, a group of wage workers, transported from the neighbouring states, were concreting the street in front of their house and a bunch of their kids were playing around. To M’s sheer surprise, she noticed that all those kids were wearing frocks and shots in a very familiar fabric……the same fabric her mother had recently used for stitching a salwar kurta for M and it seems since she had some more fabric left from that, she made use of her leisure time and got some frocks and shirts and shots stitched for those kids!!!

The same woman who had so much of health issues and illness, spent hours in front of the sewing machine stitching clothes for a bunch of kids whom she had not seen until two days ago!! A selfless deed that brought smile on the faces of those innocent kids and a note of gratefulness & happiness on their parents’ faces……and the pleasure of giving she enjoyed ignoring all the physical discomforts she was going through………one of those very rare people who made me think that we can touch other’s lives if we want to and if we have the heart, irrespective of the situation we' re in!!!

This afternoon I tried to recreate that lunch box treat I had forgotten all these years but I missed that taste from M’s lunchbox! Here’s how I made it as a teatime snack:

  • 1 cup white beaten/flattened rice ( vella aval)
  • ½ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1/8 cup sugar or to taste
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 2 pods of green cardamom, crushed ( adjust as per the strength of the spice)
  • Half of a ripe plantain, quartered into small bits
  • In a plate/mixing bowl, blend grated coconut, sugar and crushed cardamom pods by mixing with hands. To this add beaten rice/vella aval and milk and start crushing and squishing with your hands; combine everything until beaten rice is soaked and plump; check if you require more sweetness and adjust accordingly and finally add the ripe plantain bits and mix gently. If it is not moist yet, you may add one or two tablespoon extra milk and combine everything by mixing with hands.
  • Serve with tea/coffee as an evening snack

Related Posts:
Puttu Uppumavu Aval Payasam

For more , Check complete recipe index

We wish you all a beautiful, warm and fun filled ONAM !


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.