Chuck Berry and the Palghat connection, controversial peppers!

“GO JOHNNY, GO, GO, GO… JOHNNY BE GOOOOO… DDDD!” belts out a loud, uncontrolled voice.
“Ok, ok, Venkatesh. Very nice. Thanks for the song. Now enough.” A calmer voice attempting to soothe the first loud one.
“NO, DOCTOR, I WANT TO SING THIS FOR YOU, GO… JOHNNY… ” and it goes on as the voices become clearer and they come down the corridor.
The loud voice is that of my husband, who’s just floating out of an anaesthetic haze after having undergone a small surgery and is insisting on serenading the hapless doc and the soothing voice is that of the hapless doctor who has to submit to the serenade – it’s a long song and a loooong corridor!
When Arch, my older daughter, called to say that she had attended a Chuck Berry concert yesterday and was still to climb down from the the ninth heaven she was in, this was the song that that she was humming, irresistably bringing the hospital episode back to mind. 
My children had grown up with the background of hubby singing the Beatles’, Elvis, CCR and of course, Chuck Berry to them and despite being kids born in the 80s and 90s, their musical tastes were firmly set in an earlier generation’s!
For someone who actually has fainted at the sight of a needle, the surgery was quite a traumatizing experience for my husband. Having grown up in and around hospitals all my life thanks to having a doc for a mom, i couldn’t for the life of me understand this completely irrational fear. I did figure out however, that post trauma needs to be treated with soothing noises and hot beverages (courtesy Sheldon Cooper!! For the uninitiated, do watch the Big Bang Theory – BBT for short) or in the case of Palghat husbands, with a large bowl of keerai molagootal and pappadam/vadam combos!
Strange sounding dish till you break it down – molagootal translates to “milagu vittutu panninadu” (the thing without pepper) as i’ve mentioned earlier in these chronicles. Palghat cuisine, while being rather tasty and a nutritionist’s dream – low fat, high vitamin, medium protein kind of stuff – uses so few spices that one can actually describe a dish by what one leaves out of it!
Me, being rebellious Andhra, insist on putting in a few milagu – peppers – it tastes better – yay for rebellion!
Keera molagootal
Molakeerai – green or red variety/ Paalakeerai/ Thotakoora/ Amaranthus/ Chauli greens – 1 large bunch, cleaned and chopped
Fresh grated coconut – 3 tbsp
Red chilies – 2
Urad dal – 1 heaped tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 3/4 tsp
Rebellious pepper corns! – 6
1/2 cup toor dal cooked in 1.25 cups of water with a pinch of turmeric till soft
Coconut oil – 1 tsp + 1 tsp
For tadka/seasoning:
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Cook the greens with 1/2 cup of water till reduced and soft. Mash with the back of a ladle or pulse in the mixie till you get  a very knobbly purée. Heat one tsp of the oil and add the red chilies, urad dal and jeera. Fry till the urad dal turns golden brown. Add the peppers and the coconut. Stir and switch off. When cool, grind with a little water to a smooth paste. Add this paste to the cooked, mashed greens and bring to the boil. Add the cooked dal and salt and bring back to the boil.
Switch off. Heat the remaining one spoon of oil and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the urad dal and the curry leaves. Pour over the molagootal. Serve hot with rice and a pickle, accompanies by “Johnny Be Good”!

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