Spices stir my blood
My land of heat, sweat and taste
Simmered through the ages
A haiku i wrote some years ago for another food blogger’s site. Food does still inspire me to the heights of poetry occasionally – though most days it’s plain ol’ prose. Read my rap to rasam? In case you missed it – it appeared in my 100th day post – am reproducing it here:
What the world is in that can, what you got in that can
Looks like dirty water, tastes like nothing can
Holy s***, gimme more, gimme, gimme, gimme the whole can
Yo maami… hey maami, you really is the man…
The man who can… gimme, gimme, gimme the whole can
From haiku to rap and everything in between – only food can inspire us. Love poetry comes only a poor second or even worse – as the godman of literature himslef – Wodehouse said – “once you’ve rhymed ‘moon’ with ‘June’ and ‘love’ with ‘dove’, where do you go?” Better by far to take to penning paeans to perugannam and panegyrics to pachadi!
Think too of the problems we could solve – if we could put a ladle in Dawood Ibrahim’s hand and a spice dabba in Baba Ramdev’s and let them slug it out over two sigris – with Modiji and Nawaz Sharif ji adjudicating and Vajpayee-ji penning an epic to the battle on the sidelines! Arre wah – kya baat hogi!
And while i don’t quote much, I can’t help but quote the master of poetry and humour – Ogden Nash – like all good poems, it makes me go – i wish i’d written that!!
Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And course ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Just any old kind of food.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pate or patty or pasty.
But there’s nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they’re food,
And I think very fondly of food.
Through I’m broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
‘Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I’d rather painters painted food.
Just any old kind of food.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you’d win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it’s something to eat.
If it’s food,
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On that poetic note, let me introduce you to the joys of a quintessential South Indian thokku (thuvaiyal) –
COCONUT AND MANGO THOKKU (THENGA MAANGA THUVAIYAL/ KOBBARI MAAMIDIKAYI THOKKU)
Coconut – grated – 2 cups
Raw mango – grated of chunked – 1/2 cup
Green chilies – 4
Red chilies – 8 to 10
Tamarind – 1 small marble sized ball – wash and set aside
Jaggery – 3 tbsp
Sesame oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp
Chana dal – 2 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida – 2 generous pinches or a tiny chickpea sized lump
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the asafoetida and mustard and when the mustard begins to pop, add the chana dal and the urad dal. When they turn golden, add the green chilies and stir. Add the red chilies and coconut and keep turning over till the coconut begins to brown. Add the mango, tamarind and salt and stir well for two to three minutes. Switch off and let cool. Add the jaggery and grind to a coarse chutney like consistency adding as little water as possible.
Eat it as a side with dal and rice or with hot rice and ghee as a main course – and let the poetry flow…..inviting my readers to contribute – poems in any form – all it needs is that the peom needs to be about food!