Of tennis, cricket and Steffi Graf’s youngest fan!

FB, on its feed, popped up a photograph of a college friend – Sandip – posing with Steffi Graf! Brought back some priceless memories for me too – of my daughter Archana’s very early years…

With a tennis and cricket-mad father, it was inevitable that Arch’s attention should very soon turn to both these. At the height of Steffi’s career in the early 90’s. Arch figured out the sports page in the paper – she couldn’t read but learnt to recognise pictures and questions would be asked about news of Steffi that day while she’d clamber on to her Appa’s lap and demand to be read snippets of news she jabbed her finger at! Since she insisted on holding the paper during this process, often upside down, it was a very patient appa who read out the news squinting at the paper! She would also insist on ‘reading’ out news herself sometimes. “So what’s in the paper today, Arch?’ was always met with a news item – snippets that she made up like “one man found a thotholoath (cockroach!) under his house today” or “one thidel (tiger) came to one house” – all of which had to be met with suitable expressions of horror from parents as she went off into gales of laughter at having successfully fooled us!

Back to the sports page. She was drawing, with intense concentration, a picture of a girl. Asked who, the answer was “Theffi Dhaff” (Steffi Graf) – having just heard that Steffi had won a match. A couple of days later, she was crossing out her carefully drawn masterpiece. Asked why, the answer was ” Steffi Graf chacchipoyindi” (SG is dead!). Puzzled, I inquired further. Turns out that her heroine had lost a match and Arch thought she had died!! (didn’t know the difference  which is maybe like how Steffi felt that day too!!)

On another occasion, her appa was reading out a piece about the South African cricketer Kepler Wessels and she turns her face up with a puzzled look – “Appa, Wessels? His name is ginnelu?” The word ‘ginnelu’ is Telugu for “vessels”! Occasional confusions of a multilingual household, i guess!

There was no confusion, however, with one of her favourite snacks – then and now – “murukulu” in Telugu being the Tamil “murukku” of which she demanded a supply from her ammamma (grandmother) whenever she visited.

Here are the famous “MURUKULU” – the best in the world!

  • 1 cup chana dal
  • 1 cup urad dal
  • 1 cup moong dal/ green gram dal
  • 1 cup putani / putnala pappu/pottu kadalai / roasted gram
  • 4 cups rice
  • 35 gm butter
  • 35 hot oil
  • Salt
  • Red chili powder – 1.5 tsp
  • Omam / ajwain/ caraway seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Sunflower oil or groundnut oil to deepfry

Wash the chana dal, urad dal and moong dal togther nd spread out on a large sheet to dry for a few hours – in the shade. Ditto for rice. DO NOT wash the roasted gram. Then dry roast the dals and cool. Ditto for rice separately. Grind all the dals and rice into a fine powder. If doing at home, sieve out the coarser stuff – can use it to thicken soups later. 

Mix the chili powder, ajwain and salt into the flour. Pour in the hot oil and butter. Add water a little at a time to knead into a semi soft dough. 

Using a muruku gottam (mould) – the star shaped one, squeeze out over hot (NOT smoking hot) oil into a circle with several spirals. The oil will foam up and subside. Turn over after a minute to fry on the other side, lowering the flame. Remove when golden brown on both sides. Repeat. Store in a steel tin. 

And Sandip, you can offer some to Steffi from one of her youngest (then) fans!

 (And pls excuse the quality of the pics – am traveling and these were taken with a phone cam)