Carrot cutting, pottukadalai pounding and lessons in sharing…

This morning, I was driving back home (strictly speaking, being driven back home by hubby!) from a lab after giving blood for tests etc.and feeling miserable because the girl who’d stuck the needle in my arm had – literally – hit a nerve and I was in some pain. We passed a car with a little boy – he couldn’t have been more than six or seven years old and was sprawled across the back seat, in school uniform, about as disconsolate a face as ever I have encountered! Little schoolgoing kids today are the most put upon members of our society, I swear! Schoolwork, homework, bulging bags, impossible-to-finish-without-parental-help assignments, no play time at home or school – no wonder kids look so sad!

We had visited many schools – some of which looked so much like jails that I did not even bother to stop my scooter in the park but turned right around and kept going – shuddering to think of my little girl in jail at the ripe old age of three!

After much deliberation, we had decided to put our child in a Montessori school and I devoutly thank whatever providence led us to making that decision – even today – they are grown-up young women making their own ways in the world!

I think what swung the balance in favour of the school was, as we entered, I hear first a peal of laughter and then see a bunch of little kids running past, pigtails flying and barefoot! Having lived through the tyranny of stiff black shoes through my school years, except for the PT days, when we could, thankfully slip into soft, white keds, that was the game changer! 

First one daughter, then another, many years of Montessori philosophy and I am a convert for life!

The school’s philosophy was to teach life skills along with academic skills and every other conceivable skill you needed – starting with buttoning yourself, putting on your shoes, cleaning up after yourself (though going by the state of Kanch’s room now, that lesson was a big failure!) and most important in the life of three and four year-olds – “cooking”!

Cooking lessons consisted of carrot cutting, pottukadalai pounding (pottukadalai is fried gram, putnaala pappu, phutani) and lime juice making. This cooking lesson was VERY important – aiming to improve motor skills, inculcate a sense of hygiene and most importantly – sharing. The carrot cutter or pottukadalai pounder had to finish the “work” and share the results with all her/his friends – a truly fine art of balancing! Obviously, the kids enjoyed the eating the most! The rest of the learning happened unconsciously…

Till today, when I hear my kids reminiscing about school, the starting point is always those much-loved cookery classes!

Let’s go back to school today and make something incredibly delicious and simple – the 


For 2 glasses

  • Black grapes – 1 cup – washed well. To remove all traces of pesticides and whatnot, soak in a solution of 1 part vinegar to ten parts water for half and hour and rinse well. The seedless variety is preferable but we can work with both…
  • Sugar – 3 tsp
  • Water – 1.5 cups
  • Salt – 1 pinch

Microwave the grapes in water for about 7 minutes on high. Else boil on the stovetop for 10 minutes till tender.

Cool and using using your fingers, squish out the pulp and discard the skins. The pulp slips out quite easily. If the grapes are seeded, you will need to take these out too. 

Blend the pulp but not completely – some of the little squishy lumps should be left so you get bursts of grape in your mouth! 

Add the sugar and boil again. Cool and serve with ice.

And if have been a good Montessori student, REMEMBER TO SHARE!