A very special guest blogger today – the most avid commentator on my blog who has done much to motivate me to continue whether I am peering out with one eye bandaged, on the train or otherwise disabled – my cousin Ramanamurthy Nemali – the oldest cousin whose lead we all followed as little kids!
Thank you, Ramana, for an awesome story!
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Growing up in the Hyderabad (India) of the early 1960’s I was very fortunate to be introduced to the wonders of reading by my beloved aunt, Malathi Mohan. She patiently read to me page after page after page of these most incredible books and before long, just to find out what happened next, I was well on my way – thus beginning a love of reading, even to this day, of anything that comes my way – books, magazines, newspapers, neighborhood flyers, obituary columns, and in this modern era, blogs, tweets, grams and even… every single FB post!  Thank you very much Malathattha, you don’t know how much this love of reading you have inculcated has meant to me.
The first book she read to me was Mr. Galliano’s Circus by Enid Blyton and the next several years were devoted to the wonderful world that Enid Blyton wove for children – Brer Rabbit, The Five Find Outers (Fatty was my absolute favorite character well into my teens!), The Famous Five, The River, Stream, Mountain etc of Life series, I’d even read my sister, Devika Valluri’s Mallory Towers and other school girl series when my own book supply dried up!
It was while reading Brer Rabbit that I first came across a reference to Porridge. The lady of the house makes this most delectable dish, leaves it outside on the window sill to set, and before the blink of an eye, Brer Rabbit and his merry band of marauders have made short work of the dish. And they do this time after time, leaving the poor lady harried and helpless. The way Enid describes it, I could practically smell the delectable aromas wafting my way from the window sill and kindling a lifelong curiosity to taste this dish. And that is where matters lay for a long while.
Now, fast forward to Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA of the late 1980’s. I had just heard a grim diagnosis from my Doctor  of very elevated Cholesterol levels (alas! those endless days of vada, bajji and pakoda feasts finally came home to roost) and all the gory prognosis if left unchecked….and…I was advised to eat oatmeal for breakfast among many other dietary and lifestyle changes. Talk of an outsized punishment for what I considered a minor infraction! And so it continued for precisely the next 20 years. I am normally a high energy, bubbly person, but those 15 minutes at breakfast every single day put a real damper on my spirits and no amount of diversion (reading my favorite paper, listening to my favorite songs, even watching my favorite Amitabh dialogues, nothing would lift them.
And then, in 2008, I had to rush to an early meeting at work and after finishing that went into the break room to make my breakfast of the ubiquitous oatmeal (in convenient packets to which hot water had to be added for just such an occasion). A British colleague standing next to me observed, “Ah! Porridge for breakfast aye”?  What! it was only his chance remark that enlightened me to the fact Porridge for the Brits equals Oatmeal for the Yanks! indeed, two nations divided by the same language!
What a moment of epiphany that was! Of course, this was that delectable dish of my childhood dreams I used to salivate about and to think for 20 long years I had detested it with all my heart! Breakfast took on a whole new meaning and there was a song in my heart and a spring in my step now that was markedly absent all these years. And yes, all things being equal it does keep that cholesterol in check. So herewith, a recipe that celebrates the humble oats, a grain that was fed to the King’s horses at one time, but has magical medicinal properties far beyond its humble origins.
Having eaten this regularly for the past 26 years, I can’t say I gallop quite at equine speeds today, but I have definitely been known to neigh and snort every now and then! Who knows, you too might one day!
Recipe courtesy my ever beautiful wife who gets more beautiful by the day, Rima Nemali:
Recipe comfortably feeds 4
– Add 1 cup of oatmeal to about 3 cups of water in a cooking vessel and heat on high heat.
– Add 1 tsp of sea salt to the above mix while continuing to stir
– Add a pinch of Vanilla extract (this was the root of the delectable aromas that attracted Brer Rabbit and his friends!) 
– Once this mix comes to the beginning stages of boil, reduce to LOW HEAT and cover the dish.
– Allow it to cook for 20 – 25 minutes.
– Then remove it from the stove, and while still hot, add 2-3 tsp of Honey, half a cup of milk, stir and allow it to cool for a little bit.
– Keep a wary eye out for Rabbits and other mysterious creatures that can make away with this delectable dish!
– After it cools, garnish with almonds, walnuts, pecans, raisins (one, all or any combination) and serve.
– Makes for a very filling and healthy breakfast – ENJOY!
Note: For Rolled Oats,  considerably reduce the heating time . You will need to heat for just 2 or 3 minutes.”