Of feeling right at home with “Piku” and the toilet!

With all the travel we’ve been doing for the past few months, I somehow missed out on one of those must-see movies of the year – “Piku”!

Being the kind of movie goers who see good movies because someone recommends them and bad movies to figure out why they’re bad, we were feeling really deprived – not just of watching what everyone said was a good movie but also the extra-large bags of popcorn that each of us gets – strictly no sharing!

Finally get to see the movie today, sitting at home (no popcorn – on a diet… sigh… ), watching a movie built around the theme of… constipation! Liberating to say the very least!

With Nemali blood in the veins, is it any wonder that for most of my growing up life, the jokes we found funniest were fixated around this bit of daily unmentionables??! It was only after getting married and moving away from home that I found that other families were not like ours and that bathroom humour could produce raised eyebrows rather than the wholehearted merriment I was used to! And so… I proceeded to develop different sensibilities!

But… but the genes don’t go away and a trip to California to reconnect with cousins brought all the latent genes to the fore again as gales of laughter erupted over all the old, rehashed scatological jokes from childhood, while the husband sits on the side, his ears turning quite red!

No, no, I am not going to tell you any of those –  this is a family blog like I said and I am sensitive to other families as well so we shall stay strictly kosher!

Though I do seem to have passed on the genes to my own children and nephews… I remember when my younger daughter K and my nephew Parashu were both below five years and made up one of those poems related to the nether parts. They were at the lunch table (food never seemed to interfere with the jokes about where the food finally ended up!) and gleefully suggesting rhyming words to finish their poem while laughing so hard that Parashu actually fell off his chair on to the floor – it must have been painful because considering his size, the fall was some distance, but neither of them missed either  a beat or a cackle!

And don’t blame me, blame my grandfather… who, while he was mixing dal and rice and ghee into a really soft gooey mass, exactly the way we loved it, would regale us with stories of what it reminded him of (and no, you don’t want to know)!!

But today’s recipe is not about rice and dal but one of my favourite vegetables to accompany it and it has the added advantage of not having any uncomfortable associations!


  • Chow chow/chayote/Bangalore vankaya – 2 medium ones – cut into small cubes
  • Koorapodi (1 measure each of toor dal, chana dal, urad dal, 1/2 measure of roasted gram dal (putani), 1 measure of red chili powder, 1 tbsp of coriander seeds and 1/4 tsp of asafoetida – roast all the dals, coriander seeds and asafoetida and powder everything together and store) – 3 tbsp
  • Fresh coconut grated – 3 tbsp
  • Green chilies – 2
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil – 1 tsp
  • Pepper – 1 pinch
  • To temper – 1/2 tsp mustard, 1/2 tsp urad dal, 1/4 tsp jeera/cumin seeds

Pulse the coconut, green chilies, coriander leaves, curry leaves and koorapodi together for a few seconds till crumbly. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the tempering ingredients. When they splutter, add the chopped chowchow.

Cover and cook till almost done – 5-6 minutes. Add salt and cook for 2 minutes more.

Spinkle the coconut mixture on top and mix well.

Serve hot with dal and rice.

Very simple but the koorapodi lifts it to a different level of enjoyment – completely away from baser stuff, I promise! The koorapodi (Andhra style curry powder) can be made for a month and stored and used for flavouring almost any vegetbale dry curry – eggplant, potato, snakegourd, okra, beans…