A dish to soothe all your samasyaas (problems)!

Stage: Hindi exam

Scene: Board exam day for the 10th std ICSC exams

Dramatis personae: Many sad looking Madras kids facing a HINDI exam. 

Heroine: Gayatri

Off stage personae : Tough board examiners in Delhi who cannot understand the travails of a Madras kid trying to learn Hindi!

Act 1, Scene 1 : Q1: (translated from the Hindi) : Write a letter to your corporator complaining about the mosquito menace (samasya)  in your locality and request him or her to take action.

Gayatri does know a few words of Hindi – unfortunately only two of those words – samasya meaning problem and patra meaning letter are the only two she recognises on this particular question! She figures out that she has to write a letter to someone regarding some problem! 

A1: ” Dear so and so (copies out the word for corporator on the paper),

Hamari colony mein maccharon ki samasya hai (again the question paper comes to her rescue!) Bahut saare maccharaan hai (there are lots of mosquitoes). She sits and bites her nails for a while – who else could possibly have a problem?? Aaah, inspiration!

Logon ko samasya hain (people have a problem); bacchon ko samasya hai (children have a problem);  boodhon ko samasya hai (old people have a problem)”

More biting of nails takes place as she tries to figure who else she might have missed out –  “kutton ko samasya hai (dogs have a problem!); jaanvaron ko samsya hai (animals have a problem!)” and finally, just to cover all bases, in case the examiner is a little dim, you see – “maccharon ko samasya hai (mosquitoes have a problem? with other mosquitoes??!!). From what, too much competition from other mosqitoes??!

I had thoughtfully given these kids a pro-tip – that when they write the exam and there is a letter writing question, when you write your address, put “CHENNAI” in bold letters and underline so that the examiner will know this poor sod is a non-native Hindi speaker! 

Maybe the pro tip worked though I am more inclined to think it was the hilarity she must have caused up in Delhi that did the trick and she passed the Hindi exam with flying colours!

Obviously an effort like that needs an extra special “comfort” dinner to make up for how much she suffered the mosquitoes (or was it the other way around?)

Here’s an ultimate comfort Italian meal that will soothe almost all your samasyaas (including if you were the Hindi examiner correcting this paper!)


  • Spaghetti – 1 packet


  • Basil – 2 cups
  • Pine nuts or walnuts – 1/2 cup
  • Olive oil – 1/4 cup
  • Green chili – 1 or 2 (it’s amazing in pesto!)
  • Parmesan or cheddar – 1/2 cup – grated
  • Garlic – 6 flakes
  • Salt

Grind the nuts, salt, chili and garlic in the mixer. Add the basil and a couple of tbsp of water and grind to a rough puree. Scrape out and add the olive oil and cheese and mix well with a spoon. Set aside.

Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet.

While the spaghetti is boiling, prepare the vegetables.

  • Capsicums – 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green. – cut into 1 cm cubes.
  • Cauliflower – cut into florets.
  • Broccoli – ditto
  • Cherry tomatoes – 200 gms – halved lengthwise.
  • Shallots (spring onions) – chopped – 5
  • Green chili – minced – 2
  • Spinach – 1 cup
  • Olive oil – 1 tsp
  • Butter – 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Pepper – 1/2 tsp
  • Dill – 1 tsp

Blanch the cauliflower in 1 cup of boiling water for 4 minutes. Remove. In the same water, drop in the broccoli and remove after 3 minutes. Ditto for capsicums for 2 minutes. Do not discard the water – there will be a scant quarter cup left.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the minced chilies, spring onions, spinach and tomatoes and stir fry on high heat for 3 minutes. Add the rest of the blanched vegetables, salt, pepper and butter and continue to stir on a high flame for 2 more minutes. Add the dill, stir and switch off.

The spaghetti should be done by now. Drain and add three tbsp of pesto and the water saved from the vegetables and stir till the spaghetti is coated.

Serve with vegetables all around.

All your samasyaas will disappear – i promise!