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Archive for June, 2008

No knead bread

Open Sesame is a fun monthly event hosted by Dhivya of DK’s Culinary Bazaar and Siri of Siri’s Corner. Each month you pick a box (virtually), you’re sent a riddle to crack (it indicates a culinary ingredient) and once you crack it, you’re to post something made out of it in the last week of the month. I cracked my riddle but that wasn’t enough. I had to plead with Siri for the other riddles to crack just for the heck of it. It was too much to hold my curiosity till the end of month!!!

The riddles are designed by Dhivya – entirely on her own. I picked a box of wheat and here’s the apparently riddled prose for “wheat”:

I am as old as you can think of me to be
Thought to be originated from the land of camels
I am breakfast, lunch and dinner for all to see
Or be it desserts from cakes , pies to caramels

I am famous all over the world from east to west
As breads, flatbreads , cookies to muffins
I am v healthy and like a treasure chest
For ppl – weight conscious and its healthy kins

Buckle up and take a pen and a paper
I am yellow when alive, brown when put to ‘dust’
Eating me makes you look so dapper
Now think hard and tell me what is that grain that we all genuinely trust

Not really that difficult to guess – breads, flatbreads, cookie, muffins – flours used are all usually wheat products.

I made no knead bread over the weekend. I made two versions, one with 100% All purpose flour (super refined wheat flour) and one with 100% Whole Aheat Atta (finely ground whole wheat flour). I preferred the flavour of the Whole Wheat No knead bread to the one made with All purpose flour.

The original recipe is from New York Times who’ve adapted from Jim Laney, Sullivan Street Bakery. I used active dry yeast, I have not come across instant yeast in stores in India and added a whole lot of honey. I like my bread to be mildly sweet. The recipe is a super star – we need to create a special badge and paste it all over. I adore this bread so much. Its got a beautiful crust that’s crisp but not hard, it has a flavour of its own and it looks completely rustic. I’d keep it as a centerpiece if I could find a way to preserve it. It’s so beautiful.

100% All Purpose Flour No Knead Bread

100% Whole Wheat No Knead Bread

Ingredients for 100% Whole Wheat No Knead Bread (Yields: a little over 1/2 pound loaf)

  • Whole Wheat Atta – 1.5 cups
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Active Dry Yeast – 1/2 tsp
  • Honey – 4 tbsp
  • Salt – 3/4 tsp
  • Cornflour or Wheat Bran or Semolina as required

Ingredients for 100% All purpose flour No Knead Bread (Yields: a 1 1/2 pound loaf)

  • All purpose flour – 3 cups
  • Water – 1.5 cup (plus 2-3 tbsp more when whisking flour into dough)
  • Active Dry Yeast – 1/2 tsp
  • Honey – 6 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Cornflour or Wheat Bran or Semolina as required

Method

  1. Warm the water. You should be able to dip your finger in the water. Dissolve half of the honey. Add active dry yeast and let it stand for 5 minutes until yeast frothes. Dissolve yeast.
  2. Combine Flour and salt in a bowl.
  3. Add flour mix and remaining honey to the dissolved yeast in cup measures and whisk it with a spoon or your hand into a sticky loose dough. The dough will look messy. As long as the flour comes together into one misshapen ball its fine. Cover with a plastic wrap or a cloth and let the dough rest for 16-20 hours.
  4. The dough is ready when it is dotted with bubbles on top. Flour your work surface. Wet your hands and transfer dough to the work surface. The dough will be very sticky. Using cold water to wet your hands helps. Stretch the dough and fold it over itself twice. Cover with cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Flour your surface again if necessary and dust the dough as little. Shape the dough. Tucking the edges under the dough helps achieve a fairly round shape.
  6. Coat a cotton towel with cornflour, wheat bran or semolina. Be generous. Place cotton towel in a deep container. Transfer dough and let it rise for 2 hours. Dough will look taut when ready but will not spring back when poked with a finger.
  7. About 30 minutes before the dough is ready to be baked, place a stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron deep pot in the oven and preheat oven to 220- 230 C.
  8. Remove pot from the oven when the dough is ready. Flour the pot lightly or line it if you’re using stainless steel. Slide your hand under the towel and dump dough into the pot seam side up. It will looks messy – it shaped out rather well it it self. Shake to even the dough out.
  9. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 220-230C. Bake uncovered for an additional 15-30 minutes at 220-230C until the bread is browned. Cool on a rack.

100% All Purpose Flour No Knead Bread Texture

100% Whole Wheat No knead bread texture

Notes:

  1. If you’re looking for an airy 100% wheat bread, then this is it. It has lots of holes and is much much more flavourful than a regular bread.
  2. I used the same size pot for both the AP flour bread and the Wheat bread although the Wheat bread dough was almost half. Big mistake. Use a deep narrow enough pot for bread that has height. The bread’s diameter will match that of your pot and if you want a good rise use an appropriately sized pot.
  3. Wheat dough takes more time to rise and form bubbles – about 4 hours more in my experience. Its much more flavourful. Wait patiently for the wheat dough to wake up. You will relish it.
  4. I over dosed on flouring the towel the first time while baking the AP flour bread. Result is a cracked crust on top although I din’t score the bread. The balance of flour to water needs to uniform and maintained well.

I made grilled sandwich out of the AP flour bread and had the Wheat bread dipped in Salsa sauce and with some jam.

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Making of a Pizza

My quest for the perfect pizza base has ended. I have browsed and browsed and browsed through several recipes and pages of information on what it takes to get that perfect pizza crust – thin, light, soft on the inside and crisp outside. I don’t even remember half the sites I’ve browsed through. And I believe I have finally hit on the method and recipe that delights my pizza cravings to no end.

For a thin, crisp, light crust, this is what I gathered and I can confirm based on my experience:

  1. The Dough needs to be loose and not firm.
  2. Dough does not need kneading. Pizza bases are not breads. Whisking in one direction while forming dough is enough.
  3. Add more sugar or honey for better flavour.
  4. Cold fermentation or an overnight stay in the fridge for the dough helps (and it helps a great deal)
  5. Pizzas need not be tossed. A dough that can be stretched with the palm or rolling pin on a flat surface where more flour can be incorporated works wonders.

So this fine day when I was craving for pizzas I decided to put all of this research to some use. I made a wet dough, added a whole tablespoon of honey and let the dough sleep in the fridge. It worked – and it helped a great deal to get the crust I’ve always wanted in my home oven.

Makes: Two 12 inch Pizzas

Ingredients

For the Base/ Crust/Pizza Dough

  • Water – 1 cup
  • All Purpose Flour – 2 1/2 cups (plus extra for dusting)
  • Corn Flour – 3 tbsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Honey – 1 tbsp
  • Active Dry Yeast – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 3 tbsp
  • Dried Herbs of Choice – 2 tbsp (optional)

For Topping

  • Sauce of choice – 2 tbsp (or Olive Oil)
  • Toppings of choice – 1 1/2 – 2 cups sliced and sauted (tossed in 4-5 tbsp of sauce of choice if you like)
  • Cheese of choice – 1/2 cup (grated) (or 6 tbsp for each pizza)

Method

  1. Warm 1 cup water. Water that you can dip your finger in is warm enough. Dissolve the sugar, add honey and yeast. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Dissolve the yeast.
  2. Mix All Purpose Flour, Corn flour, Salt and Basil. Dissolve one cup of the flour mix to dissolved yeast. Add the second cup and combine by whisking in one circular direction with your hand. Add the remaining flour and whisk into a dough. Add the olive oil 1 tbsp at a time while combining into dough. The dough will be loose but well combined and smooth. The dough is not kneaded.
  3. Divide the dough into two. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. This should take about 1-2 hours.
  4. Flour the pizza pan. Preheat oven to 250 degrees C.
  5. Take one portion of the dough onto the pizza pan and using your palm pat into think circular disk till it covers the pan. You can use a rolling pin. Dust with flour while stretching. If the dough bounces back, let it rest for a while and stretch. Cut out any extra edges. The edges of the base should be slightly thicker. Using a fork prick all over the base.
  6. Spread 1 tbsp of the Sauce. Spread Toppings. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the crust turns golden or cheese starts to brown. Or bake the base for 5 minutes. Take out spread the sauce and toppings and bake for an additional 5 to 15 minutes. Your method will depend on choice of sauce/ toppings (the amount of water or liquid content) and how hot your oven can get.
  7. Take out from oven and let pizza cool down before transferring to serving plate. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Slice into pieces and serve.

Notes:

  • You can safely replace half of the All Purpose Flour with Whole Wheat Flour and get the same results. Whole Wheat absorbs a lot more water. Add enough water to make a loose dough.
  • Dough kept overnight in the fridge and rested about an 1 hour outside before baking produces better results. Reduce yeast to 1tsp in this case.

Pizza Dough Recipes from other blogs:

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The most used word in the past few days in the blogosphere is INSPIRE !! But before I write about people who inspire me, I would like to share my thoughts about a news item that disturbed me a lot.

Tussauds is a world famous museum of wax statues of famous personalities in London. Around two weeks back there was a news item on TV where many Indians who visited the museum expressed there displeasure over Mahathma Gandhi’s wax statue being placed near a garbage bin.

I have never seen garbage bins being placed in the main display area in any museums or art galleries I have visited. Visitors are usually not allowed to carry eatables or smoke in such places. These measures are taken to protect the exhibits from collecting dust. Usually a garbage bin may be placed in a remote corner near rest rooms. Wax being a very sensitive surface will require extra care. I wonder where is the need to have a garbage bin along with the exhibits in this world famous museum!! Just imagine the plight of the artist who created a beautiful replica of the Mahathma! The statue of Mahathma is the property of the Tussauds authorities. What can one say of people who do not value their own invaluable possessions? How can we expect such people to understand the greatness of the Mahathma?

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Black night shade ( Manathakkali) keerai Thogayal

Manatakkali Preparation for Thogel

Ingredients

  • Black night shade leaves/ greens(Manthakkali keerai)- 1 cup tightly packed
  • Grated coconut – 2 tablespoons
  • Urad dal – 2 tablespoons
  • Hing – a small piece
  • Red chillies – 2 nos
  • Oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste

Method

  1. Wash and drain the Keerai.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds. When it crackles add urad dal, red chillies and hing. Fry till golden brown.
  3. Add the keerai and coconut and saute till dry for 2 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool. Add salt, little water and grind to a smooth chutney.

Black night shade greens are good for all stomach ailments. You can serve this thogayal with rice or as a side dish for dosa. It can be easily grown in the kitchen garden.

Manatakkali Thogel

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Our very dear blogger friends Asha, Siri, Kamala and Swati have felicitated our blog with Inspiration award! It is great pleasure and honour to receive this award from all of you! A big thank you and Hugs to Asha, Siri, Kamala and Swati!! :)

Some famous personalities and my teachers have inspired and influenced me to a great extent!

* Mrs.Janardhan was the school principal when I was studying at Keyes High School at Secunderabad. She had a soft and husky voice and we have never seen her scold or punish any student. All the students used to assemble for morning prayers and keep talking, but only till we see our principal. Once we see her get out of her room and walk towards the assembly there will be pin drop silence! She commanded that kind of respect! We should understand the difference between commanding and demanding respect! I always feel inspired and motivated when I think of this great person! :)
* Another teacher who influenced me much was our math teacher, Ms. Ammani John. Those days the prescribed text books were available only in Telugu and English medium students had to follow books by other authors. Since our teacher did not want us to miss out on any sum that might appear in the final question paper, she used to translate and dictate all the sums from the prescribed telugu text book and see that we work them out in the class itself. I used to marvel at her dedication! Translating and dictating all the sums to every class, everyday, year after year! Amazing!! My dear ma’am has inspired me do give my best shot, whatever I do!
* Mr. Moge was our HOD when I was doing my B.Com. Once he calculated the amount of time and money spent to educate every student. He said that if women are not allowed to use this education for building the economy, it is such a national waste! That day I understood that God has bestowed upon each one of us, some talent and we should use it for a productive purpose!
* Other great personalities who always inspire me are Mahathma Gandhi, Mother Teresa , Dr. C. Rajagopalachari and John. F. Kennedy.

I am passing on this award to all food bloggers who successfully completed the recipe marathon! So the award goes to,

* Dear Siri and Dhivya who pamper me with their love! :)
* Mela queen Srivalli , for her energy! :)
* Cute Raaga, her recipes are a part of my weekly menu! :)
* Bhags, who can cook and blog delicious recipes from a hotel room! :)
* Dear Swati, I feel I know her since ages! :)
* Arundathi, Ranji and Divya , I would love to know more about these bloggers who are laks great friends! :)
* My dearest daughter Lakshmi, Who makes me feel complete! :)
* Two more bloggers, I like to pass on this award are my BFF Asha, not a day passes with out thinking about you dear! :) Bharathy who is always there to help and made me popular as lathamma! :)

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This blog has been officially Ashafied. There is no way I would have posted so many recipes on a single day in a single post had I not been Ashanated!!! For those of who, who’re clueless and blinking at your computer screens – head here – and if you still cannot see the connection, there’s something drastically wrong.

Srivalli has undertaken an ambitious mission of rounding up recipes for as many Indian flatbreads as she can. Roti Mela is an online celebration of the many ways in which we consume the flatbreads. Our entries -

Bhakhri

Bhakris are crisp rotis that taste almost like soft wheat crackers. If you’ve lived anywhere in Maharashtra or Gujarat and not seen the face of a Bhakhri you must have spent all your time day dreaming. That’s how common bhakhri is and that’s how frequently people make them.

Update: As Bhags as pointed out in comments below, Bhakhris are not necessarily made of wheat. Bajra and Jowar  are used to make Bhakhris in Maharashtra.

Masala Bhakhri – Spicy Crisp Rotis

Makes 12 Bhakhris

Ingredients

  • Whole Wheat Flour – 2 cups (coarsely ground flour gives a better texture than Atta or Chapathi flour)
  • Curd – 6 tablespoons
  • Ghee – 3 tablespoons
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp (increase or decrease as per taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water to knead into a stiff dough

Method

  1. Combine the flour, salt, turmeric and chilli powder in a large bowl. Rub 2 tablespoons of ghee well into the flour. Adding ghee at this step makes Bhakhri crisp.
  2. Add Curd and bring the flour together. Add enough water and knead into a stiff smooth dough. Coat dough with a tsp of Ghee. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into 12 round portions. Roll out one portion into a 4″ round using a rolling pin. Bring the sides together again. Roll out into a circle again. A Bhakhri is not too thin, nor too thick. The folding and rolling out again helps in getting a smooth round with not many tapered edges.
  4. Over low to medium heat, cook both sides till light spots start to appear. Turn heat to high, brush the sides with oil if you like and cook both sides until spots turn brown.

Kajal’s step by step Pictorial on the making of a Bhakhri.

Flavoured Rotis

There are million ways to make the regular Rotis more interesting. Blend and add ingredients to the dough or chop and add to the dough. Tomato Rotis, Spinach Rotis, Onion Rotis, Herb Rotis….its silly to even attempt listing all the possibilities. The two kinds that I make often:

Mint Rotis – Rotis with dough flavoured with Mint leaves and Cumin

Makes: 12 Rotis

Ingredients

  • Whole Wheat Flour – 2 Cups
  • Mint Leaves – 1 cup (tightly packed)
  • Green Chilly – 1 no.
  • Cumin – 1 tsp
  • Ginger – a small piece
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Water to knead

Method

  1. Puree the Mint leaves, green chilly, cumin and ginger. Add a tablespoon or so of water if required.
  2. Combine the flour and salt. Add the mint puree and mix well. Add enough water and knead into a stuff elastic dough. Coat with 1 tsp Oil. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into 12 round portions. Roll out one portion into a 4″ round using a rolling pin. Bring the sides together again. Roll out into a thin circle again.
  4. Over low to medium heat, cook both sides till white patches start to appear. Use a tong, cook both sides over direct flame. Or brush both sides with Oil and cook on the tawa over high flame.

For pictorial refer to Shipa’s method for Phulka and Chapathi.

Coriander Rotis – Rotis flavoured with coriander and amchur

Makes: 12 Rotis

Ingredients

  • Whole Wheat Flour – 2 Cups
  • Coriander – 1 cup (tightly packed)
  • Besan – 2 tbsp
  • Amchur – 2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Water to knead

Method

  1. Combine the flours, amchur, dhania powder and salt. Add the coriander and mix well. Add enough water and knead into a stuff elastic dough. Coat with 1 tsp Oil. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Divide dough into 12 round portions. Roll out into a circle. Fold into a triangle and roll out.
  3. Over low to medium heat, cook both sides till white patches start to appear. Brush both sides with Oil and cook on the tawa over high flame.

Refer to Swati’s post for six styles of rolling and shaping paratha.

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This blog has posted various other flatbreads earlier. Follow the links for the recipe.

Stuffed FlatBreads

Stuffed Parathas and Poli/Boli are two kinds of flatbreads stuffed with goodies inside that we make often at home.

Gobi Paratha

Shengai Holige (Groundnut Poli)

Boli

Leavened FlatBreads

Naan

Onion Kulcha

Tawa Bread

Gluten Free Flatbreads

Gluten free, packed with minerals, heavy on the stomach – these traditional flatbreads make a healthy energizing meal.

Akki Rotti (Rice Roti)

Raagi Rotti (Ragi Roti)

Jolada Rotti (Jowar Roti)

A mini roti mela for Valli’s Mega Roti Mela.

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Kutty idli with Sambar

A big hugs and thank you to all my friends who left condolence messages in the blog and also mailed me separately! I will soon be sending separate mails to each of you, till then please consider this as my personal thanks to each one of you! I think I am slowly pulling myself back to normalcy.

Lakshmi came to Bangalore on an official trip last week and she could just spend a few hours with us. I prepared the kutty idlies and sambar which she loves! We get the kutty idli plates in most shops in Chennai and Bangalore. You can prepare the kutty idlies with the regular Idli batter .

idli with sambar

Preparation of sambar

Ingredients

  • Toordal – 1/2 cup
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Tomato – 1 no
  • Bell pepper – 1 no
  • Hing – a pinch
  • Oil – 1/2 tablespoon
  • Tamarind – 3 inches
  • Sambar powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste.

For Grinding into paste

  • Green chillies – 2 nos
  • Grated coconut – 2 tablespoons
  • Onion – 1 small
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch
  • Khus Khus – 1 teaspoon
  • Channa dal – 2 teaspoons
  • Oil – 2 teaspoon

For seasoning

  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Redchilli – 1 no
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig
  • Oil- 1 teaspoon

Method

  1. Wash the toordal, add turmeric powder and pressure cook adding enough water. Mash well.
  2. Soak the tamrind in warm water and squeeze out the pulp.
  3. Cut the bell pepper into 1 inch pieces, add hing and 1 teaspoon oil and MW for 3 minutes or saute on a low flame. Add the sambar powder.
  4. In 2 teaspoon oil fry the channa dal till golden, add onions,green chillies and tomato and saute on a low flame till the onions are transparent.
  5. Soak Khuskhus in warm water for ten minutes. Add grated coconut, ginger, sauted onion mixture and grind to a fine paste.
  6. In a large kadai (use the same kadai used to saute capsicum or take some oil if its a fresh one), mix the toor dal, tamarind pulp, ground paste, bell pepper and salt. Add 1/2 cup water and cook on a medium flame for 3 minutes.
  7. If required add some more water. This sambar should be thin so that the idlies will soak well. Add salt. Season with mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves.
  8. Place the hot idlies on a shallow bowl and add the sambar to fill the bowl. Serve with a teaspoon of ghee or til oil.

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Support Bri

Brianna is a fellow food blogger who has chosen to fight her cancer rather than let it take over her life. She’s is one of the 5% of women diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 30. We discovered Bri’s blog very recently through Jugalbandi’s “Click for Bri: Yellow” fundraiser to help her cover out of pocket costs of cancer treatment. All she needs is 500 people out of this world of 6.7 billion people, donating 25$ each (or Rs. 1000 approx each). Now those 500 can’t be very hard to find. There are easily 500 food blogs out there!! Apart from the food blogging community, we do have regular visitors. This is an appeal to put forward what ever you can to support Bri. Your generosity enables for Bri health choices and an opportunity to explore a more holistic healing programme for cancer that would have otherwise been limited. You can use the Chip in facility for direct donation through Paypal (scroll down the page).

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Gold Medal for Recipe Marathon

I’m very proud that my daughter Lakshmi has successfully completed the Recipe Marathon organized by Dhivya and Siri by posting continuously for 15 days . Here’s her gold medal for the recipe marathon:

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Amma still lives in countless hearts!

Lakshmi has already paid tributes to her Patti! Then why one more post on amma? I have to share my sorrow with my friends! Other than routine cooking I am unable to do anything. I am just thinking of my amma all day long, day and night. I feel this post will help me to unburden my heart and get back to normalcy! Thanks to all my friends who spend their valuable time in reading this post!

My amma was a personification of Patience, Sacrifice and Unconditional love! I learnt much about her life during my teens. When we would sit together to clean rice in late afternoons, she would narrate some of the incidents that happened during her childhood and early married life. These prepared me to face and solve problems in my own life later!

She followed every word in the two kurals ( couplets):-

Inna seitharai ooruthal avar
naana nannayam seithuvidal!

Inniya ulavaga innadu kooral
kaniyerrupa kai kavarthatru!

The first couplet means, “When someone spreads thorns in your path, forgive and do good to them!”

The second one means, “Using harsh words while so many sweet ones are there is like biting a raw fruit while ripe ones are in plenty!”

My Amma with me and my children

Amma with me and my children

She became the oldest daughter-in-law of a huge family of sons, daughters and innumerable cousins at a tender age of 16 years. She took the responsibility of the whole family as my patti would be away most of the time helping her sisters and brothers. She kept the doors of her home and heart open to all my appa’s relatives, cousins and friends. She was the universal manni (Sister-in-law) to all his cousins. All of them have spent some time living in our home, some for days, some for months and a few for years. All this she managed while the family income was pittance.

What amazes me most is that she would calmly go about doing her work after being the epicenter of a tornado of abuses inflicted upon her. Even more amazing is the fact that she would do anything to help people who seek her favour unabashedly, after treating her badly! She was a real angel who was above all these petty things!

It is not as if she had only misery in her life. There are a lot of good people among those whom she helped. These people adore her for her fine qualities. I remember our days at Hyderabad where we had a big group of neighbours and friends. Anyone who needs help or advise during pregnancy,delivery or child care, she was always there for them! In fact she would offer help even before being asked and has stayed with many in the hospital during their delivery. She was an expert in infant and child care! As her daughter, I can proudly declare that she never raised her voice while talking to us, leave alone scolding or hitting children! No wonder all the children who were fortunate to be in her care, love and adore her! I think the time she spent caring for children, her own, her nephews and nieces or grandchildren were the most joyous moments in her life. The gleam in her eyes while preparing favourite laddoo or mixture for my son is etched in my memory! When she was around 60 years of age, she fondly knitted a double colour sweater for my son, that too with such poor eye sight!

She never had good eye sight, being blind in one eye and with just a hazy shadowy vision in the other. She had an astonishing ability to perceive and view things inspite of her disability. Most people lose their sense of direction while driving around or deep fry till food browns. My amma has never been directionally challenged on roads and no one can beat her in frying food till its just the right shade of golden and crisp.

I do not claim my mother was flawless. Her biggest flaw was that she thought being bold to protect ones own rights was a sin! She simply allowed people to exploit her! Another draw back was that she bottled up her sorrows, which burst out during the last few months of her life, when the physical pain overpowered her patience! Blessed are those who cared for her during her last days!

At 47 I feel I have neither understood myself or life! Since 27 years, that is after my marriage, I have hardly spent much time with my parents. May be two weeks to one month in a year. The agony I have experienced from last October, worrying about them is unbelievable! I knew amma was suffering and the end was near, but then it is so difficult to come to terms with reality!

Tears roll down my eyes when I think there was no one to help her when she suffered two abortions and two infant deaths during her teens!

Tears roll down my cheeks when I think there was no one to care for her when she worked till the last moment of pregnancy and went to the hospital all alone and waited in the corridor for my grandma before entering the labour room to deliver my eldest brother!

My only solace is that I could spend some time with her in February in the hospital, the only time she was hospitalised for sickness during her lifetime!

My amma used only two cosmetics throughout her life – turmeric pod or powder for the face, and kumkum for her big red pottu which she was very particular about. She wanted to predecease my Appa – she wanted to die as a Sumangali.

Her soul departed on the 10th of May 2008 at 3 pm. On the 11th of May, the skies burst into tears when her body was being taken for cremation. The Delhi summers had not seen the last of rains yet. The skies poured as if to condole the death of a noble soul for 4 days from the 10th day to the 13th day after her death.

When amma was hospitalized in February 2008, she would keep praying to Lord Venkateshwara, “Appane Venkatachalapathy, Yennai Thiruvadi Serthukko” (“O Lord Venkatachalapathy, Give me place at your feet”). On the 11th and 12th day of the ceremony we feed four brahmins. For amma’s 12th day, the purohit was able to find only 3 brahmins to feed. On his routine visit to the Vaikuntanathar temple by chance he came across a brahmin from Tirupati who readily agreed to accept our offerings. It was as if the Lord himself had sent his devotee for my amma’s last rites.

I AM SURE SHE LIVES IN COUNTLESS HEARTS FOR ALL THE GOOD THINGS SHE HAS DONE!!

MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE.

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