The ‘Batter’ Breakfast (WORLD IDLI DAY: March 30th)
by Radha Gomati, Mar-30th , 2018
That was my daughter providing a background score half under her breath that she had learnt in primary school hoping to distract her mother, who was in one of her famous OCD (Obsessive -Compulsive Disorder) modes oblivious of everyone and everything .
We all watched as she stood there in the kitchen with a splattered apron washing the idly pans while keeping an eye on the contents of two working grinders-One our own ,the other our obliging neighbour’s plus more goo rotating away in a small blender…
“Is a batter half a better half gone batty, dad ?” sighed my daughter with a penchant for daffy definitions as she realised her tongue twister was falling on stone deaf ears.
“Yeah! YOU are responsible, dad! All mom has been obsessing over the past two weeks is how to recreate the batter that went into the making of that Idli we relished in Palakkad with wholly organic ingredients!“
That was my son now, hissing over my shoulder, on his way to his room.
I stood arms crossed watching with a mixture of admiration and trepidation as she patiently ladled out a fresh batch of flour into the circular depressions of the idly stand from the kitchen doorway. I had thought I had seen all the faces of my beloved spouse. But after she voluntarily opted to joined the business in her favorite section, food processing and production, to help me out a month ago, I am not so sure. Such was the passion with which she threw herself into a role she had abstained from taking all these years consciously limiting her flair for food within the confines of the family kitchen.
I watched her absently brush back a lock of hair falling on her forehead with a batter covered hand while securing the cooker’s lid.
I shook my head to myself smiling incredulously as I slowly fetched my laptop and walked to the porch. I almost dropped the car keys when I heard a triumphant yell from the kitchen, “Eurekaaa!”.
Archimedes appeared – floury ladle in one hand, a steaming platter in the other with batter streaked apron, hair and a truly beatific expression …
“Just taste this, all of you!!!”
The four of us crowded around the dish on the table.
We broke apart an idly between ourselves, its airy fluffy innards exuded a light whiff of a comfortingly fragrant steam. As we placed it in our mouths those plain fragments of white cloud, once runny batter, dissipated in a pleasantly mild explosion of texture and flavor …
“AWESOME!!!” The kids exclaimed in unison as Sandhya turned beaming to me. Her hair was still streaked with that stroke of batter that had happened while she was fastening the cooker lid for these ‘Eureka’ batch of idlis.
I decided to tease her a bit.
Looking meaningfully at the batter in her hair between wolfing down yet another of those divinely edible cloud puffs jostling with the kids, I began to sing that evergreen number from the romantic Hindi blockbuster from yesteryears – BOBBY in which there is this unforgettable scene where the unsuspecting heroine hurries from her fritter-frying chore in the kitchen to open the front door for the hero visiting for the first time and absentmindedly streaks her hair with batter in the process.
“Mein shaayar to naheen” (I am not a poet).
Cut glance from Heroine Chef to Idly. Gooey eyed goofy looks that kids who catch the drift, also begin to gleefully mimic :
“… Magar yeh Haseen! … Jab se dekha mainei tujhko, mujhko … Shayaree aa gayee!
(O beauteous one, But from the moment I saw you, Poetry came to me!)
I narrowly dodge a floury ladle whack as I flee out to the porch amidst a gale of laughter.
Last I hear as I slam my car door shut and turn on the ignition is my smart aleck son yelling as he runs- “Mom ! watch out ! You will be charged for assault and batter-y !”
More laughter as I drive out.
Happiness has this beautiful way of creating more happiness.
It also creates great idly batter with lovingly researched organic ingredients that goes to make wholesome idlis, as our terrific customer feedback has assured us.
Our recipe was born after all, from a loving mother’s good intention to ensure that more breakfast tables than the one in our home is laden with nourishing delicious goodness, no matter how rushed the urban workday clock.
This is a true story (alright, very slightly dramatized for compelling narration!)
If Food is an avatar of Love, what better way to start the day than with the shayaree of a Lumiere Idly!