My MIL’s mother, turning 81 this month, has never cooked anything that tastes ‘okay’, or ‘bad’ in the last few years that I’ve known her. And she does not hold a record to that effect in the past too! So, anything she cooks is exemplary. Anything she touches with a ladle and spoon turns into edible gold!
Vyas and his Kolla-Paatti (that is how he calls his great-grand ma!) derive a lot of pleasure in provoking each other, while also enjoying each other’s company. The little one never misses an opportunity to tell her that the food she cooks is very spicy and will do no good to her health, and that she must cook like amma, with less spice! A compliment from Vyas to kolla-paatti is hard to come by. But last Saturday, it was a *Vasishtar vaayal Brahma-Rishi moment’ when Vyas ‘certified’ Paatti’s famous bajji. He helped himself to a plate heaped with this speciality and queued for more after emptying the plate. Well, I take the credit for christening it as Kadamba-bajji, while paatti simply calls it ‘bajji’.
I can go on about the paatti’s looties, but that deserves a separate post. Here’s her recipe – minus her touch:
1. For batter:
Gram-flour – 1 cup (besan or kadalai flour)
Rice-flour – 2 tsps
Cooking soda- a pinch (i don’t use)
asafoetida – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder – 3/4 tsp (or as desired)
Salt – 1/2 tsp (or as desired)
Ghee- 2 tsps
Potato, plantain, brinjal, chow-chow, cluster-beans(kothavaranga),broad-beans (avarekkai), capsicum, big green Chilli (the ones used for making mirchi-bajjis) peas, regular beans, carrot, green chillies, coriander leaves, curry leaves.
3. Oil for deep-frying
1. Wash and cut all the vegetables into very small pieces.
2. Finely chop a green chilli, coriander and curry leaves.
3. Mix gram-flour, rice flour, soda, asafoetida, turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt.
4. Add the chopped vegetables to this mix along with the ghee.
5. Add water to make it into a thick batter. The consistency can be a little thicker than idli or dosa batter.
6. Heat oil in a pan
7. Drop small balls of the batter into the oil and deep-fry.
7. Savor them hot on a rainy evening.
Paatti treated her grand-children, their spouses, and the great-grand children, about a dozen of us in all to this wonderful bajji last rainy-Saturday. The best part of her bajji-making is, she lights the stove only when we are ready to eat and serves us one-by-one. Paatti cooks every dish in a kumutti aduppu (charcoal-grill if you may call it). All the dozen of us would have emptied 2 plates each in less than 30 minutes! And she thoughtfully asks each of us if we had it to our heart’s content and is only happy to make more on request or demand!
Hail Paatti and her bajjis!
*Very rare for a sage to be acknowledged as ‘Brahma-rishi by sage Vasishta. Hard to get a compliment from someone.