Of bookworms and lessons in botany!

“Arch, can you run up to the terrace and get me a couple of sprigs of curry leaves from the plant?”

“Arch… AAARCH… ” I finally manage to get her attention away from her book – what competition can curry leaves to help with some boring dish offer against a Harry Potter?

Having GOT her attention, it’s not difficult to get a biddable child to help, though! 

She goes up, sneakily carrying the book with her and comes down half an hour later carrying some leaves with her. “Here, amma, here’s the karepak (curry leaves) and hands over the sprigs to me – except that they are sprigs of neem leaves – bitter as they come! 

Lessons in practical botany followed-  to identify the most basic of leaves!

Notorious for her bookworm habits, she was given strict instructions one day to not read till the guests we were expecting for lunch had left.

“What time will they leave?” she asks.

“About 3.00 p.m” is her dad’s response.

And so, she waits politely till 3 p.m. and then gets up “Appa, it’s 3 pm and they haven’t left yet. Can I go back to reading now???!!” – right in front of the guests!

Many lessons in why we can’t say or do certain things follow – lessons particularly difficult for a bookworm!  Some leavening with herbs is definitely needed!

Indian cooking uses far more spices than herbs and the herbs used are just a handful – curry leaves and coriander being predominant. Learning to cook with herbs, in fact even hearing about herbs like marjoram and rosemary was a “grownup” experience!

Here’s a herby recipe which we love for breakfast or lunch or dinner or a general snack thingummy…


  • Baby potatoes – 1 kg – well scrubbed
  • Olive oil – 1 tbsp
  • Rosemary – 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Pepper – 1 tsp

Cook the potaotes in boiling salted water for about 6 – 8 minutes. Drain water and toss the potatoes with all the other ingredients. Line a baking tray with foil and spread the potaotes out in a layer. Cover with another layer of foil and seal the edges. Bake at 240C for about 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven. Remove the top layer of foil and bake again for 7-8 minutes till tender.