Very often, and more so in a generation which has now reached a certain age, if something had to be dismissed voice and expression dripping with ample scorn, “Aa, gongura! D’you really believe her?” or “Vankai! As if …!” would be the choice of words for many!
I don’t know which came first, the expression or the film song, but if you want to taunt someone saying “What do you know anyway? Squat!” ‘squat’ would translate into “nimmakaya pulusu*” or “vankai pulusu”.
Are there any such expressions in your language? What are they?
It just struck me that something we exalt and proclaim as our own, peculiar to our roots and our State is also the metaphor for something we choose to dismiss. Is it because vegetables like gongura, eggplant and even lime were kitchen garden staples, there for the asking? We didn’t have to shell out anything, or much, for them; we could get some from the neighbour and maybe not have to even give something in return; if we had to buy them, we probably had to spend only a few paise for a bunch as big as a bush. Or is it that they are exalted only now as we leave home and scatter far and wide, routine, everyday, garden-variety vegetables receding into the realms of the rare, prompting us to grow all mushy and patriotic and discuss them in our blogs using terms such as “rediscovery of my culinary heritage/roots/humble Andhra food/quintessentially Andhra” or … well, you get the drift.
I’m quite one of those who has been rediscovering the food I’ve grown up with so here’s a dish with the not-so-dismissable gongura – it’s a favourite accompaniment to mutton and chicken but I decided to try it with eggs. My new early morning gym routine promises to give me the opportunity to take a detour to the market and buy fresh greens regularly and I’m quite thrilled about it.
Here’s what you need for the gongura-egg curry:
Gongura – 1 bunch weighing ½ a kilo (500 gm)
Onion – 1, chopped
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Green chillies – 2, slit
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
Boiled, shelled and scored eggs – 4
Salt, to taste
Oil – 1-2 tsp
Garam masala/curry powder – 1 tsp
Pick the leaves off the bunch of gongura. Wash the leaves in several changes of water.
Put the gongura in a pan with the chillies, salt, turmeric and red chilli powder.
Boil with a little water till it wilts and becomes a rather unified mess – what I mean is that the leaves sort of meld with each other and it’s just a little short of a paste.
Mash it with the back of the ladle.
In a pan, heat the oil, fry the onion and then the ginger-garlic paste well.
Saute the eggs lightly.
Now add the cooked gongura and mix it well with the onion and ginger-garlic paste.
Let the whole thing cook together for a while.
Sprinkle garam masala on top.
I have to acknowledge three more awards. One is from Lakshmi of Yum Blog, who's given me the Witty Blogger Award and another is from Pratibha and Jigyasa of Pedatha.com who passed on the You Make My Day Award. Siri of Siri's Corner also gave me the Good Chat Blog award. Thank you!
*(The film song I refer to is “Neekemi telusu, nimmakaya pulusu …” – incidentally, 'nimmakaya' is Telugu for lime, and 'pulusu' can refer to the juice extracted or any gravy using lime).
Gongura Eggs Eggplant Humour Telugu Musings