Of kadalai pod-ing and Anu aunty!

” If you don’t study harder, all you will be doing will be ‘kadalai pod-ing’ (literally “putting chickpeas”, meaning doing trivial stuff – this Tamil is a graphically descriptive lingo!) while all your friends are studying at IIT/NIT/MIT blah, blah – says the kadalai-pod-ing Anu aunty (not me!!) in this hilariously named  book How I Braved Anu Aunty And Founded A Million Dollar Company.

I couldn’t believe my eyes – and so – just for the sake of the title, I bought this at an airport bookstall a couple of years ago. The book was obviously written by someone in a hurry to finish it – rather like a Hindi assignment – but made a very telling point – about middle class India’s preoccupation with engineering degrees for their sons and daughters and the ramifications if the kid dared rebel! Having actively encouraged my kids to seek and follow their own very different stars, I am happily NOT the Anu aunty after whom the book is named but I did face a weird experience – at the receiving end of this notion – at a high school where I was invited to do a session on self awareness.

Before I started my session, I had a meeting with the Principal of the school. She was on the telephone as I walked in so I had time to look around at the plaques and shields hanging on the wall. She gets off the phone and we make small talk for minute or two. She’s obviously very proud of all the accolades her students have earned and tells me about some of them. 

“How come there are no Humanities plaques or shields at all? ” I ask innocently 😉

Pat comes the answer: “You see, most parents do not want it for their children so we do not offer these subjects at all (this in one of the leading schools in Chennai with a strength of over 3000 students!!). Even if there a few kids wanting these subjects, we actively discourage it. You see, my dear, how many journalists does the world need??”

I am so stumped that most unusually for me, I’m at a loss for words! Journalism is the only career that this lady (a very nice, highly educated person herelf!) who is the arbiter of so many young lives can think of for an Arts student. Even the parlance for this is a negative – it is not referred to as the Arts stream but as the “Non-Science, Non-Commerce” stream! Grrrr!

And anyway, what’s so wrong with kadalai-pod-ing? I have a list of benefits – keeps you healthy (and keeps people away if you eat too many!), teaches you patience – one kadalai, two kadalai… is a surefire cure for ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), keeps you from other more harmful stuff – I’m sure even Anu aunty (the one is the book, i mean!) would rather have you put kadalai rather than snort c…..e??

Shall we snort… errr… I mean podu kadalai?


  • 1 cup – black (or brown) chana (chickpeas) – soaked overnight and pressure cooked till tender.
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  • 1/2 ” ginger – grated
  • 1 green chili – minced
  • Tomatoes – 2 – chopped
  • Tomato puree – 1 tbsp
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Jeera (cumin) – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric pwd – 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
  • Kasooti methi – 1 tsp
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander – chopped – 1 tbsp

Heat the oil and caramelise the sugar in it. Add the jeera, bay leaf and green chili.

Add onion and fry till golden brown. Keep adding a few drops of water if the onions stick to the bottom (adi pudi!).

Add ginger, tomatoes, all the powdered spices and cook for 3-4 minutes on a low flame till the tomatoes turn mushy.

Add the cooked chana and salt. Cover and stew for 10 minutes till the flavours are absorbed.

You can also add a chopped potato at this stage if you wish to bulk it up or add another texture.

Add kasooti methi and switch off.

Add coriander before serving – with rice, puris, rotis, bread, boiled potatoes – this dish is the “O” Positive of foods – geos with anything and nothing!

Ask Anu Aunty!