An unexpected gift.


One thing you should know about me is that I adore South Indian food. When I was in Varanasi, I ate idli and sambhar every morning for breakfast with Leaf, whose wonderful husband brings it back for her from the idli walla, in a beautiful shiny tiffin after taking their son to school. (A metal container with different compartments.)

When I got to Arambol, however I found that the only idli dhosa place in town had closed shop and moved out. Goan people favor the Mumbai breakfast- pao bhaji or puri bhaji (different kinds of bread with potato curry) and don't really eat idli or dhosa unless it's a special meal. 

Idli is made of rice and white udid dahl which is soaked and blended together, then fermented. It's spongy and sour, and you use it as a vehicle for sambhar, a tomatoey broth that may or may not have dahl or various vegetables in it, and coconut chutney. (Oh, coconut chutney!)  Now people usually make idli with a special contraption that steams the idli into little round shapes. (Think of an egg poacher.)

But the other morning, Jaya arrived with two hot banana leaf wrapped loaves of idli- a gift from her sister for me. (Jaya and her sister are from Karnataka, and tend to eat more South Indian style food.) Just scads of idli! Heaps of idli! It's the old way, I think- she cooks it over a fire in the banana leaves. I mean- really! Could I receive a better gift, especially since I haven't had idli since leaving Varanasi? And wrapped in banana leaves?

I looked at the mounds of idli, thought for a moment, and asked Jaya, "Could you make sambhar and chutney for lunch?" I'd have to say she nodded gleefully. She made the most delectable sambhar, with okra and eggplant and cauliflower. It was really good.

The point of this story is- well, there is no point, but even if your local idli place closes down, be on the lookout for a kind gift from a South Indian woman, wrapped in banana leaves.


Your comments on the last post were kind and insightful. I get so impatient with resting, sometimes. But I need to remember to be thankful for it, for the ability to sleep, to rest, to prepare, to make this little baby. (Who seems to be another large one!)