Obbattu: Of the unbearable nature of translations!

“Hi ma… how are you?… bzzz bzzzz… ” murmurs hubby indistinctly.

I am still in a post operative haze after my second child is born and can barely hear what he is saying… beyond some soothing noises.

I make some noises back – at least I think those are noises I am making, I cannot recognise my own voice… before sinking back into unconsciousness.

He tells me later that he said something nice and kind and the “right” post-wife’s-delivery things to me in my stupor and I corrected his English before slipping off into unconsciousness! I, in a very-undutiful-wifely manner, giggled at the story – serves you right!

Yes, I am one of those horrible people – and I know there are millions of us – who automatically correct everything they see – including billboards on the highway, advertising copy, the English in pamphlets thrust under your nose as you’re walking on the beach and which it seems rude to refuse and worst offender of all – subtitles in movies! These used to irritate me no end til I figured out the way to deal with them was to read them as they are and then fall off the sofa laughing! Many a serious drama has turned into an unintentionally gut-busting comedy by this simple expedient!

Indian film songs are the best when subtitled… sample these:

Nazar ke saamne… jigar ke paas...

Translation: In front of my eyes, near my liver! (okay, that’s creepily close!)

Beedi jalaiyle jigar se piya, jigar mein badi aag hai...

Tr: Light your cigarette with my liver, my liver is on fire! (wow, dial the ER, don’t sing man!)

Tohfa, tohfa, tohfa… laaya laaya… laaya

Tr: Gift, gift, gift… I brought, I brought, I brought! (ok, ok, thanks!)

Gorey gorey mukhde pe kaale kaale chashma… tauba khuda khair kare… khoob hai karishma…

Tr: Black, black goggles on a white, white face… God ha’mercy, what a miracle, what a miracle! (God ha’mercy, indeed!)

Aaao… tumhe sikhaaooo… ande ka funda!

Tr: Come… I will teach you… the basics of an EGG! (huh?)

Or one of my favourites: Samundar men nahathe hue tum aur bhi… namkeen ho gayi ho… !

Tr: After bathing in the sea, you have become even more salty!! (Guy after my own heart, I’m sure, everything depends on the five tastes!!)

Nothing, however, changes how delicious this sweet dish from Karnataka (variations are made everywhere but the original is from Karnataka and Maharashtra!)




 Ingredients for the dough


  • Maida/plain flour – 1 cup
  • Chiroti Rava/very fine semolina -3 tbsp
  • Turmeric-a pinch
  • Salt- a pinch
  • Sesame oil – 1 Tbsp
  • Water

Ingredients for the filling


  • Grated coconut – 1 cup
  • Grated jaggery – 1 cup
  • Poppy seeds – 2 tbsp (optional)
  • Cardamom powder- 1/4 tsp
  • Ghee – 1 tbsp


Knead the dough first by mixing together maida, chiroti rava, a pinch of salt, turmeric, oil and add water little by little to make a very soft elastic dough, softer than roti dough. Smear a little oil all over the dough, cover and let rest for 2-3 hrs.

Roast the poppy seeds in a pan till aromatic.

Add the grated coconut and roast for a few minutes and then add the crushed jaggery, ghee and cardamom.

Mix well and stir for a few minutes till the jaggery melts.

Let it cool for a few minutes and roll out lemon size balls of the mixture.

For making the obbattu, grease your palms and on a wax paper or a clean plastic sheet, take a table tennis ball size of the dough. Pat it into a small round, place the stuffing on it and cover it like how you would do for stuffed parantha. Greasing your palms well, pat or roll out into a thin roti.

Heat a tava on medium high and cook the obbattu on each side for about 2 mins till golden brown in colour. It will puff up a little. Do not flip over again and again. Add a few drops of ghee while frying.


Stored in an air tight container, it can last for up to a week.