By SVL Narayan
I am a true blue Kannadiga with my ancestors hailing from a hamlet called Sosale in the heartland of the erstwhile Mysore state. The gastronomical inputs in my growing years were such Mysore delicacies like Maavinakaai Chitranna, Nuchina Unde, Hulitove Majjigehuli with a reward of Gasgase Payasa on festival days.
I presumed that one day I would marry a pretty damsel from T Narsipur or Arsikere and my food preferences would be taken care of in the manner I was accustomed to. In fact, I would have encouraged my bride to add Gojju Avalakki to the menu.
However, fate had something else in store for me. I ended up marrying an Iyer girl from Palakkad (or Palghat). Since then, the dining table is full of dishes with tongue-twisting names like Keerai Moologootal, Maangai Araitchukalakki, Vazhakkai Mezhukkuvaratti, Nendrapazham Pulissery, et al. In fact my wife goes gaga over something call Olan.
Once she made light brown chutney, which I sort of liked. She quickly corrected me that it was Parippu Thogayal and not chutney. I retorted that I knew chutney when I saw one. This argument went on for several years till the well-known writer V Gangadhar (also from Palakkad) wrote in his column “Slice of Life” that Thogayal and chutney were two different items. That newspaper cutting, now yellowed occupies pride of place on our fridge door under a magnet.
However, being an eternal optimist I hoped that my two sons will marry dainty girls from Narasimharajapura or Hosagrahara. I was confident that our dining fare would become a cheerful congregation of delicious Hurli Saaru, Kosambari and Kayi Hollige.
Thanks to the machinations of my wife and her crony, my elder son married an Iyengar. Now the dining table repertoire includes Kandathippili Sathamudu, Vazhaikai Kariamudu and Akkaravadesil. It was rather confusing in the beginning when my daughter-in-law referred to something called Thirumadapalli. I later found out that was the Iyengar reference to the kitchen.
To rub salt on my wounds, I had to utter et tu Brute when my younger son somehow persuaded a Gujarathi girl from Kutch to marry him. With the addition of Bajra no rotlo, Guvar nu Shaak and Dal Dhokli our household menu reads something like the one in the Indian cuisine restaurant at the Taj.
I have somehow survived my sacrifices over the years. Unfortunately my culinary skills are limited to heating food in the microwave so I could not really overcome the deficiencies in my diet. Driving all the way to Malleswaram to eat Akki Roti at New Krishna Bhavan is not practical. It is particularly stressful for me when the Avarekai season arrives. Imagine a life without Avarekai Uppitu or Saaru !
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