Korivi kharam: Of protecting animal rights and student rights!

So… I was at this party yesterday and heard this story from the daughter of a friend.

Her mother, a dynamic one-woman army (also a wonderful hostess!), teaches at a couple of B-schools in the city. She, one day, brings in a guest lecturer – another lady who’s an entrepreneur. The lady talks about her business – a very specialised affair growing the mediums for cultures to be used in biochemical labs. (That’s right – read it again – it took me three iterations before I figured out what that was about!).

She talks about the challenges that are specific to her business and how important it is to figure these out – in any business.

Her troubles involve rats. Rats – that’s right! Getting at her cultures! Rats apparently love cultures! Rat traps should do the trick, you think? Or rat poison? That, sadly, is not the end of the story. There are people who love rats as much as the rats love those cultures! And these are not random, weird, keepers-of-rats-as-pets kind of people. They are organised and part of PETA  (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Now, I’m all for them – animals, ethical treatment and all that but had no clue that they supported rat rights too! Come to think of it, rats have always got a bad press so it’s high time someone supported them! Attaboy, PETA!

Anyway, that’s not really the point of our story… which is about who’s going to support the ethical treatment of b-schools!

So the lady finishes her talk and our dynamic pal – the first lady – asks her students if they’ve understood and do they have any questions and the usual blah, blah at the end of a guest lecture. Everyone nods, but doesn’t seem to have questions.

In an effort to prod them and get a discussion going, she asks one of them, “So X (in the interests of the the ethical treatment of students, I’m not going to reveal his name!), can you tell me what her business is about?”

Vigorous nodding(Indian head bobbling!). “Yes, ma’am”!

Pleased that the kids have been listening, she asks him to elaborate…

It’s about protecting the rights of rats, ma’am!”

Hmmm… I am very, very curious to see where this kid ends up – an animal rights place, I hope!

To celebrate our very bright B-school grads (don’t lynch me – I’m one too!), here’s a kickstarter to ahem… brightness?!



(Recipe courtesy my aunt Malathi Mohan – who doesn’t know yet that I’ve pinched the recipe! Thank you, pinni!)


Ripe red chillies: 1 kg
Tamarind: 1/4 kg
Jaggery: 100 gm
Salt to taste: 2- 4 tbsp
Asafoetida: 10gm
Fenugreek seeds: 2 tsp
Gingelly oil: 200 ml
Cumin (optional): 3 tbsp



Wash the chillies and air dry, remove the stalks and cut into three or four large pieces.

Wash the tamarind and soak in a small quantity of water.

Heat 2 tbsp oil and roast asafoetida and fenugreek seeds and cumin, remove from the pan and add the chilli and toss them till lightly roasted.

Grind all the roasted ingredients with tamarind and jaggery. Add salt gradually, to taste.

Heat the remaining oil. Add a tsp of mustard seeds and when they crackle, add the ground chutney and cook for a few minutes, stirring all the time till it moves in one lump like a halwa.

Cool and store in bottles, preferably in the refrigerator, if preserving for a long time. Serve with hot rice and ghee.


Mind that the rats don’t get at it – that’s carrying animal rights a bit too far, I think!

(Pic: Courtesy Narayan Kumar)