Of admiring sisters, crocodile snacks and rats!

“Akka is so bulliput, no?”


“Akka is so bulliput”! (pronounced to rhyme with lilliput)

I get it – “Akka is so beautiful”! Kanch, who is still too little to go to school, has woken up from her afternoon nap to find her sister sleeping next to her. K is “watching over” her older sister (two fingers in her mouth) and admiring her!

For all that she is four years younger, Kanch, for the longest time in her childhood, was her older sister’s self-appointed guardian, trying to protect her from bullies and suchlike!

On one trip to the Hyderabad zoo, Kanch was getting too close to the crocodile enclosure and I warned her away. She asked me why. “Because if Paapa (baby – how she referred to herself at the age of two) goes too close, she’ll fall in and the crocodile will eat her”. Both fingers in her mouth, she contemplates this for a while, then “if Akka goes close, will the thothodile (crocodile!) eat her up?”


More contemplation. then she turns to her sister – “Akka, don’t go near the crocodile. Paapa (self) will go, eat the crocodile and then Akka can go!” Phew!! Akka nods in serious agreement!

The things that Kanch thought edible when she was young had me constantly on my feet to pull away sundry goodies like insects, chalk, glossy mags (only the glossies, mind you!) and in one horrifying moment – a dead rat (saved in time)! That she actually turned out a vegetarian and a strong PETA (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals) supporter is a constant source of surprise!

Here’s one of our very vegetarian favourites – gummadikayi perugu pachadi. It’s fantastic with pulihora (tamarind rice) or rotis or as a low-cal snack by itself.


  • Gummadikaya (red pumpkin) – sliced into large flat pieces about an inch square) – 2 cups
  • Thick yogurt – 1.5 cups
  • Green chilies- 2
  • Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
  • Minappappu – urad dal – 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Jaggery – 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric – 1 large pinch
  • Asafoetida – 1 pinch
  • Salt
  • Sesame oil – 1 tsp

Grind the green chilies, 1/2 tsp mustard and grated coconut to a smooth paste and set aside. It’s easier to grind the mustard if you pound it a little in a mortar and pestle with a few drops of water first.

Cook the pumpkin with a couple of tbsp of water, turmeric and jaggery till tender. Add salt and mix. Let cool and whip in the yogurt and the ground paste. The pumpkin will break up a bit – that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Temper – heat the oil in a small “popu garita” (small saucepan with a handle used for tempering) and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add minappappu (urad), curry leaves and asafoetida and pour over the pumpkin pachadi.

Goes superbly with any mixed rice – tomato, tamarind, coconut, raw mango..I eat the leftovers as a snack by itself. Or whiz it in the mixer and make a dip for vegetable sticks.

Better than eating crocodiles and dead rats, eh Kanch??!