If music be the food of love… my family would have starved to death long ere this blog was thought of, leave alone initiated! As far as I’m concerned, the food of love is carbs, proteins and minerals or to put it more earthily – annam, pappu and koora (Telugu for rice, dal and vegetables).
…but… and here’s the thing. I’ve always hankered after the the more poetic version of what constitutes nourishment for the heart… and thus many, many attempts have been made to learn how to create the other kind of food. Music classes have been attended, violins have been bought, vocal lessons have been painfully sat through (painful for my teachers, that is!), practice, practice, practice has been carried out with the kind of single minded dedication that only someone with zero ability but infinite desire can do!
Many of my “experiments with music” have already featured in these chronicles. As always, it is some experience with food that brings forth these memories… like my recent serious immersion to Mexican food in America and then back in India. It was love at first sight and deep commitment at first bite as far as the burrito was concerned!
Like all marriages which start off like that, I knew I could improve on the original (made by mother – -in-law ;)) and have continued to experiment with it to make a “new, improved” version! I bet all husbands reading this are nodding wisely – they know the “improving” experience!
But back to memories… as I perched precariously on a high stool at a Chipotle bar, watching the lady deftly add a bit of this, a lot of that, a smidgin of this and douse the whole thing with various sauces, creating a veritable smorgasbord of tastes, it reminded me of my first exposure to the raagamaalika (medley or literally “garland of raagas” – different raagas to which various segments of one composition are set).
With my kind of musical ear, identifying one raaga was a challenge… with about a dozen guesses being hazarded before I hit on the right one – largely by accident! But my kind teachers, wanting to encourage this musical – ahem, genius ! – always clapped or made other encouraging noises – ever notice how parents encourage young ones during potty training – “yay! well done! big boy (or girl)! superman!” making the kid feel he’s built a bridge to the moon, at the very least!
Encountering a song I really liked, MS’s Bhaavayaami Raghuraamam, I was so carried away by the beauty of the lyrics and the music that I made the mistake of asking my music teacher at the very next class to tell me what raaga the song was in! (Oh, Google, why were you not born then??!)
She, excited at having detected what she mistook for some signs of musical intelligence in an alien species, explained what a raagamalika was and then led me on one of the most painful journeys of my life – identifying the six raagas that form the background of this song! I do not know which of us was more exhausted by the end – though I suspect it was her – she had her reputation as a teacher to maintain – I had no such pressure!
So here’s a veritable raagamaalika of a dish… the recipe is long but it’s mostly just a matter of chopping and mixing.
HEALTHY PITA POCKETS WITH RAAGAMAALIKA FILLING!
- Whole wheat flour / atta – 1/2 cup
- Jowar ka atta (millet flour) – 2 tbsp
- Soya flour – 1 tbsp
- Plain flour/maida – 2 tbsp
- Yeast – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Oil – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Milk – 1 tbsp
Knead everything together with enough warm water to form a soft, pliable dough. Knead really well – imagine you’re banging away on those piano keys! (Oops, that’s not what you’re supposed to do???!)
Cover and set aside for an hour to double in size.
Knock back and divide into 6-7 lime-sized balls. Roll out into circular rotis – 2 mm in thickness.
Cover and set aside to puff up again.
Heat a tava and roast on both sides, pressing with a rolled up napkin till it puffs up and is cooked.
Cut each into halves and separate the layers to get two semicircular pita pockets from each.
- Shredded cabbage – 1 cup
- Red, green, yellow capsicum/bell peppers – chopped – 1/2 cup
- Chopped red onion – 3 tbsp
- Boiled garbanzo beans/kabuli chana or black beans – 3 tbsp
- Steamed broccoli – optional
- Boiled sweet corn – optional
- Pepper – 1/4 tsp
- Crisp fried potato fingers – 1 cup (optional)
Mix everything except the potato fingers together and set aside
- Semi ripe mango – shredded – 1/2 cup (Thothapuri variety or any sweet and sour variety is great)
- Papaya – finely chopped – 2 tbsp
- Crunchy apple – chopped – 2 tbsp
- Green chilies or Malaysian red chilies (pandu mirapakaayalu) – 2 – minced
- Mango-ginger (maanga-inji) – 2 tbsp – shredded (optional) or use 1 tbsp plain ginger – grated
- Chopped fresh mint – 4 tbsp
- Juice of 1 lime
- Sugar – 1 tsp or more depending on the sourness of the mango
Mix everything together and set aside.
- Grated cheddar or crumbled feta (if you are the cheesey type!) or hummus if you’re vegan – 1/2 cup -(optional)
Mix the potato fingers into the cabbage mixture.
Mix the salsa in and fill the pita pocket.
Line with 1 tbsp of cheese and reheat in the microwave or the oven for a few seconds till the cheese begins to melt.
Do not overheat or it will become soggy and the salsa will be rather sad!
And you will be able to sing in many raagas – which i cannot identify!
( Pic: courtesy internet)