Of sparring partners and trees that grow out of tummies!

“And when I get seetaphal (custard apple) in the tree growing out of my stomach, i WON’T give you any!”

“Hah, and and before you get those, I’ll get mangoes growing out the tree from my stomach. Think I’m gonna give you any? Double hah!!”




“Yaaah yourself!”


“Annee nuvve” (all that backatcha!)

My brother and I fighting over something or the other as usual – who gets to read the new Enid Blyton first, who got the bigger peice of cake, who gets to eat off the small silver plate, who gets to sit on Daddy’s “special chair” and so on… there was no end to the number of things we could and did fight about, the fights often degenerating into fisticuffs! This exchange of compliments was the usual prelude to those. 

We had been told by some cousin ahead of us in years (Ramana, time for you to feel guilty?) that if we swallowed a seed while we were eating a fruit, we’d grow that tree out of our stomachs and through our mouths! For some weird reason, this seemed a very desirable outcome – after all, we could then eat all the sapotas/mangoes/seethaphal or whatever it was we’d swallowed! How we were going to eat it, or anything at all for that matter, with a tree growing out of the palate was a practicality that did not enter our calculations!

Arvind and me, being only a year apart in age, were sparring partners throughout our growing up years. Anand, being a couple of years older, not to mention of a much more peaceable temperament, generally gave in without too much of a fight – to our entreaties!

Much water has flowed under the bridge, many seeds have been swallowed with little success but I’m definitely more than happy to share any fruit or food with my brother now!!

Here’s the fruit of my aebleskiver (koozhi paniyaaramu/guntha ponganaaalu/guliyappa) pan.

With my daughter home for the holidays, all of us fed up with rich food but wanting something special – this is a low-fat alternative to the deep-fried kofta. Just as yummy and in a light and easy-to-whip-up gravy rather than the usual heavy kofta gravy… this entire meal took me all of twenty minutes to whip up from scratch!


  • Grated paneer (cottage cheese) – 1 cup
  • Besan (kadalemaavu/ senagapindi/ gram flour) – 2 tbsp
  • Chopped onion – 2 tbsp
  • Minced green chilies – 2
  • Ginger – grated – 1 tsp
  • Coriander pwd – 1 tsp
  • Cumin pwd – 1/2 tsp
  • Chili pwd – 1 tsp
  • Kasooti methi – 1 tsp
  • Chopped coriander – 2 tsp
  • Baking pwd – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Ghee – 1 tbsp

Kuzhipaniyaaram / guntha ponganaalu / aebleskiver pan – see picture

Mix all the ingredients together and shape into small balls – the size of small lemons. Drop a few drops of oil in each hole of the pan and heat till below smoking point. Gently place the balls in each hole. Do NOT drop them in – the oil is likely to splatter on your fingers! Pour a few drops of ghee over each kofta.

Cover and cook for about 3 minutes on a low flame and test – they should be brown on the underside. Turn over and cook, uncovered on the other side for a further 3-4 minutes till all the sides all brown.

Set aside.


  • Finely chopped onions – 1 cup
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch piece – grated
  • Garlic – 2 flakes – minced
  • Tomatoes – 4-5 chopped very fine
  • Tomato puree – 2 tbsp
  • Green chili – minced – 1
  • Cloves – 3
  • Cinnamon – 1″ piece
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Green cardamoms – 2
  • Black cardamom – 1
  • Fennel pwd – 1/4 tsp
  • Red chili pwd – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander pwd – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin pwd – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Kasooti methi – 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  • Oil – 1 tbsp

Heat the oil and drop in the sugar. When it caramelises, add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms and fry for a few seconds. Add the onions, green chili, ginger and garlic.  Fry till the onions brown. Add all the other powdered spices and tomatoes and mix well. cook, covered for 3-4 minutes till tomatoes are softened. Add 1.5 cups water and continue to cook till the gravy is thick and cooked. Add the koftas and switch off.

Serve with plain white basmati rice.

And please DO share the fruit of your tree!