“What are you churning out in your kitchen for Onam**?” my friends ask me.
“Err…nothing special,” I admit sheepishly.
“Cut and chop a hundred veggies, make milk out of a willful coconut, convert it into twenty different thorans and kaalans and olans***? You must be crazy to think I am that crazy, that too, all this trouble just for the two of us, for one meal, ha!” I muttered to myself.
An s-o-a from office laid the final nail on the coffin in the Onam kitchen. Yet, that nagging voice somewhere in the back of my consciousness kept repeating , ‘Onam, Onam, Onam’. Before it turned into a north Indian chant that is doing the rounds these days, (try saying onam, onam , onam repeatedly and quite fast…still don’t get it? then you might not get it at all, forget it) my flesh gave into the demands of the persistent soul. That’s when I remembered that long forgotten can of milkmaid that used to give me a woebegone look from behind the oft caressed tins of chocolate, baking powder, choco chips and the like. Maybe it was waiting for just such a day. every maid has her day, you see.
Looked around and found two bananas whose skin had stopped used Fair & Lovely and had gone out into the hot sun. Then some nuts and
bolts…errr..raisins, better known as kissmiss, wonder how it got such a romantic name. Anyhow, into the pan went the milkmaid that was colored like a terrorist..well, aren’t terrorists supposed to be brown in color these days? Milk poured into the can three more times in an unsuccessful attempt to draw out the remaining liquid, added to the pan next. The bananas went nuts and added the raisins on the way to fatten themselves in shudh desi ghee****. Sounds like avial, you say? What’s in a name, I ask.
Some urgent work, a.k.a FB beckoned, got so engrossed in all the sadya chatter going around that I forgot my pursuit of getting past the
guilt nostalgia trip. As a funny smell wafted into the almost dysfunctional nose, I rushed back to my reluctant domain to see a greedy gas stove and counter top devouring half of my half hearted attempt. Having used up the last possible drop of milkmaid and thawed milk, I remembered, necessity is the mother of not mere inventions, but culinary innovations as well.
Some left over home made pudding mix was shaken out of its cozy comfort and in went 3-4 spoons into the mix. To add volume, what else but that eternal elixir of life , water. The end result was consumed with great relish, let me admit in all humility. You see, it is not love alone that can lay claim to that special taste, that non-definable something, that makes a dish special. Add a generous amount of guilt with total abandon, and you might end up with something like this. Hope all you people had a wonderful Onam.
* paaysam – traditional Indian sweet, usually made during festival, or whenever you feel like it
**Onam – Traditional Kerala harvest festival, so it is said.
***thorans, kalans and olans – vegetable preparations that accompany a festive meal in Kerala. Made from symmetrically cut pieces of veggies, with generous amounts of coconut in all shapes and forms added – grated, pieces, milked, oiled etc., etc.
**** shudh desi ghee – clarified butter