Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Mixture Of Memories

The Listerine was always perched on top of the mesh cupboard in the kitchen. We, my cousin and I, would return from school and head straight for the kitchen, pour some Listerine into a glass, gargle and ... I don't remember what we did next. Study? Play? Possibly. But of course! We'd have a glass of hot, boiled milk, and perhaps something to eat.

I do remember, though, that my grandmother wouldn't usually make hot evening tiffin for us. I've mentioned how unorthodox she was in some of her food choices, so this non-tiffin habit was probably a manifestation of that. (Though an aunt tells me that she did do some of the conventional things when they were younger, but that's another story.) There was fruit to eat, and various savoury snacks (chakkidalu/chakralu/karappusa) that she made herself periodically, pressing the dough out of a heavy brass cylinder in a circular motion into a deep and large cast iron kadai full of hot oil. It would be a delight to watch all those twisty, twirly, rough and smooth treats coming up all brown and gleaming, resting on the sieve-like ladles for a few seconds before being deposited into a gleaming steel can next to the stove. Perhaps there were also biscuits to eat.

But once in a while, as a treat, perhaps, she would make this tasty mixture as a special evening snack and it would be done in a jiffy. I haven't made this in years, wouldn't even have thought of it had it not been for IFR Memories and the bag of puffed rice I was given during the recent Durga Pooja celebrations. I thought of making a 'mixture' with that for this post but I couldn't honestly tell myself whether my grandmother made this or I was imagining it simply because there was an event to enter and write for, but luckily, the thought process tripped the right wires and here is that simple, but great treat my grandmother would turn out in minutes.

My grandmother didn't particularly care for the recipes published in the magazines. She thought they only pretended to be novel and excelled in exaggeration. She would be quite scornful about recipes that claimed to be new just because they had some cosmetic element to it - like a fruit salad being called a pomegranate fruit salad merely because some arils were sprinkled on it. I wonder what she would make of me blogging, all the more so as she (nor my grandfather) never liked me pottering about the kitchen.

But I digress. On and off, it hits me that here's a dish I used to have when my grandmother was around, and haven't had or enjoyed properly since she passed away - it's not always something exotic or special or unusual, just that it's unavailable to me for various reasons, one of them being a slowing memory.

There are many mixtures like this - in fact, the onion, the coriander, lime, chilli powder, green chillies are constants, the main ingredient is the variable (V). Make V peanuts, and it's an appetiser or accompaniment to drinks at the club; make it puffed rice, and it's delivered to you in a soggy cone of newspaper outside the office; use boiled peas and it comes out in little tubs or katoris out of carts or from a roadside stall. This version uses roasted chana dal/chutney dal.

Roasted chana dal/chutney dal/veyinchina senagapappu: 1 cup
Salt, red chilli powder: To taste
Green chillies: Half of one, sliced thin (optional if using red chilli powder)
Onion, chopped: A small fistful
Oil: 1-2 tsp
Lime juice: From 1 or two limes, as you wish

Mix the dal, spices, onion, oil and lime juice well.


This post goes to Manisha's event IFR Memories.

A reminder: There's just a little over a week left for your entries for The Write Taste, on till October 15, 2009. Details in the sidebar too.


  1. Like an interesting bhel ka bhai thingie no? Should be good. we shall attempt it.

  2. I am a granny's girl too and like these kind of quick snacks they make. Most of the tim they're not expensive, has very few ingredients yet they taste divine. I like this combo as during childhood days when I was a non-stop chatterbox my mother would fill my arms with channa dal whenever I follow her in the kitchen and torture her with my questions. As soon as the palms are empty it will be promptly filled in ;) This is such a lovely entry and yay I too have something of this kind. Will post that soon. Thanks Sra!

  3. Sra,
    give me these anytime and i can easily live on these :) ..i like it with puffed rice also(jhaal muri)...
    hugs and smiles

  4. Yes, it does look like abhel of sorts. I still remember the stuff my grandmother used to make.
    I have her ecipes but it never tastes the same. I guess the love she put into making it and the taste of my nostalgia are missing. :)

  5. My granny and I didn't had a great relationship (from dads side) and then when i got married to someone from outside Indian that was the end too.
    But then i think that is life.
    It is always so wonderful to read then about other grannies like yours.

  6. Never did with this!Looks great sra!

  7. Isn't it amazing that granpa and granma's memories are what last with us forever. Is it because we spend so much time with them when we are kids or because they pamper us more than our parents?
    I sent my grannies memories to Manisha's event as well! Wonder how many granny memories she got? Working on your 'Write Taste'.
    Love your chana dhal mix. Nothing beats onions and lemon juice thrown in some crunchy X ingredients.

  8. Sra, I have never tried them with roasted channa dal though both the peanut and puffed rice versions have been tasted. Now it will be.

  9. After reading ur post, I remember eating roasted channa dhal (powder) and sugar made into ladoos!
    The puffed rice variation sounds good!

  10. Wonderful post Sra! Evoked a lot of memories of my own grandmother. Every summer, before we left for Riyadh after our summer vacation, she'd spend a whole day making "mixture" and I'm yet to eat a version that's as tasty as hers. I bet the missing ingredient is love.


  11. I love, love, love these V snacks! Especially with a healthy dose of extra hot green chillies :).And this post, so true to its title, is bringing back so many memories of my time with my Grandma!

  12. neither of my grandmother's made these for me but I remember eating them as kids.

  13. "She thought they only pretended to be novel and excelled in exaggeration." --- So true, wise grandma

    This piece was very well written, I liked the style

  14. wowww.....this looks yummy...wonderful snap dear.. :(0

  15. Some of our favourite food are that just because of the memories attached to them. Good that you rediscovered one of yours, and a healthy one at that!

  16. wonderful memories of your grandma. ;-) I'd love to taste your dish.


  17. You write effortlessly and beautifully. It was a joy to read this post. Brought back so many memories for me. Thank you.

  18. Love this simple snack.Our after school was a small meal,mom never believed in snacking back then :D

  19. Sra

    Following is a comment on Anita's latest blog post. The site mentioned also has some of your posts

    "I wanted to bring to your notice this following website, did you do a guest post or someone has copied as it is. http://blogs.soumyabrata.com/?cat=89

    On October 9, 2009 at 10:31 pm Bong Mom Said:


    This blog has yours and also Sra’s feeds in full on his blog. Maybe others too, I saw only these. The comments are also there !!!

    Does he have your permission ? I don’t know if this is legal or not. I have seen some of my posts in full in FoodBuzz though I have NOT signed up with them or submitted my posts to them. But they at least have the link to my blog while this one does not"

  20. I am a granny's girl too. You look in almost every post in my blog, I would have mentioned about my achi. Their cooking is so simple and straightforward with minimal ingredients.

    Your dish looks good! Sounds pretty simple.

  21. I am starting to forget the specific dishes my grandma used to make, but I do remember how simple and tasty all those used to be! Nothing exotic or unusual, but just tasted so different from the usual fare!
    On a different note, I do have all those ingredients in hand, a Sunday snack, perhaps?