Of horses’ nosebags and irritating younger sisters!

“Anu, thinanu, pleeezanu, thinanu” (Anu, pleeeze eat) my brother Anand’s voice pleading with me every morning as I stuff  my mouth full of food in an attempt to oblige! I would slowly masticate my way through the food matter stored in my cheeks all the way to school in the rickshaw – a distance of some four – odd kilometres…

I had just joined school and since my school was close enough to my brothers’ school, we used to share a rickshaw for the ride. I am sure that till the littler sister joined, my brothers were nearly always on time to school – them not being “problem” children to get ready, have breakfast and so on… I, on the other hand, being three years old, neither knew nor cared what time was… and so the resultant pleading from older brother…

My parents coaxed, yelled, cajoled, bribed, punished, had ‘serious talks’ and the like over the years  in an attempt to get me eat faster. “I’m going to tie a horse’s nose bag around your mouth so you can graze,” my dad used to hold out over me. Other than an interesting speculation on how I would look at school with a nose bag hanging around my neck and also whether it would get my parents off my case, the whole thing slid right off my back!

I don’t think I ever managed to finish my lunch at school. The school taps used to be shut off after lunch leaving me with no way to wash my hands – and thus I discovered a new use for the pockets in uniforms!

Sundays at home were easier – there was no bell to ring at the end of lunch hour and I was left to finish off while my parents went off for their much-prized once-a-week afternoon nap; the brothers went off to play cricket or whatever. People would wake up, cricket matches would get over and family would trickle back home for high tea to find me at the table – still eating lunch!!

The only thing that I could eat faster – in a matter of two hours rather than three being considerably faster – was various mixed rice combinations – “kalanda saadams” as they are known in the part of the country where I now live – coconut rice, tamarind rice, pulao or even the humble ghee and appadam rice combo – have always loved these.

My leisurely camel-hump regurgitating, cud-chewing life came abruptly to an end – with the birth of my first child. It was either eat before baby wakes up/spits up/poops/wants a feed or not eat at all! Well going by the pounds I’ve put on, you don’t need to phone a friend / poll the audience to guess which I chose!

For some reason, “kalanda saadams” tend to taste better when they are made with leftover rice rather than the freshly cooked variety. Great way to use up the previous day’s rice for a yummy breakfast… presenting one of my family’s favourites – omam rice.


Left over rice- 3 cups – separate with your fingers

Peanuts – roasted – ½ cup
Onion chopped – ½ cup
Omam seeds / ajwain/carom – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Chana dal – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Asafoetida -1 large pinch
Pepper – ¼ tsp
Green chiles – slit – 4
Chopped mint and/or coriander – 2 tbsp
SaltOil- 1 tbsp


Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and when they pop, add the chana dal and urad dal. Let the dals turn golden brown. Add the peanuts, omam, onions, curry leaves, asafoetida and green chilies.. Turn over a couple of times. Add the rice, pepper and salt and mix well. Sprinkle a little water on top.Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes on a low flame till the flavours are blended. Switch off and sprinkle the herbs on top.

Take your time eating it. Take a couple of hours… what’s the hurry?

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