Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breakfast Spice

Many years ago, I wrote an article for a magazine about how I got as much excitement as a masala Bollywood film in the pre-breakfast hours in my bungalow. I was young, and our first born was a little baby. I'd oversleep because I slept whenever the baby did, and I'd wake to find no electricity, no gas, no cook, no bread or eggs in the house and the husband's motorcycle puttering at the gate!

I thought that was all history - after all I'd grown up years ago. I could manage things. Like the time when the cow decided to have her baby on the lawn and company directors were eating breakfast with us. The bearer whispered the news to me with a quiet smile, and I nodded with an equally dignified smile. No one knew what happened until the new mother and her young were in a state to receive visitors who took pictures of them. However, one can't take things for granted.

Image from - this is what a Rava Dosa looks like!

Shankar, our old cook from Moraghat, always used to tell me not to plan Rava Dosas when we had guests. He said they were jinxed. Everytime he made those rava dosas for the family, they came out crisp and light, but lo, when there was a guest, all poor Shankar would get on his tava - or griddle - was scrambled rice lumps.

That was long ago. Or so I thought. We have been enjoying all kinds of dosas in our present bungalow, so when our next guests came to stay, I decided they'd get Rava Dosas at breakfast. After all a Rava Dosa is not just any old dosa, it's a delicacy. With my mother Maiji here, a lip-smacking sambar was guaranteed. Our cook knows his dosa and all I did was issue a few airy instruction in the kitchen before going off to see to the flowers arrangements and other trivial things.

We were seated at the table and the sambar and chutney were borne in in style. The bearer exited, only to come back after five minutes and give me a tortured look. I excused myself and went to the kitchen - I didn't rush, but just glided in - to find that Shankar's jinx had followed us here. There were congealed lumps of rice flour on two tavas and the cook was just about holding in his tears. 'Now what?' said his expression.

'Toast' I whispered to the bearer. 'Keep the saheb log busy.'

There was an extended toast session which must have puzzled my poor guests (some dear old friends).

When they could, my team served up some very apologetic dosa with excellent sambar and chutney. The cook struggled to keep the show going. He is not used to failure. He didn't break, even though the dosas did. The bearer served each person at the table with a look of deep remorse.

As if I wasn't feeling guilty enough, breakfast was concluded in great good humour, with everyone present praising the perfect taste of the dosas - and what do appearances matter, they all asked. What with looking light hearted at the table and trying to be a lifestyle guru in the kitchen, I'm quite ready to go to bed for a week after some amnesia inducing drink.



I enjoyed that, almost as spicy as the rava dosai.

Madhumita said...

Wonderfully woven ; the travails of a Bara Memsahib.Lucid and very enjoyable !

madhumita said...

Lucid and loaded with humour ! The travails of a bara Mem ; woven beautifully .

The dosai that has been featured didn't look very apologetic. Ha ha ha !

Keep them coming for us. I have just about learnt to make a sada Dosa...Rava Dosas seem to be a distant dream !!

Anonymous said...

" Like the time when the cow decided to have her baby on the lawn and company directors were eating breakfast with us. The bearer whispered the news to me with a quiet smile, and I nodded with an equally dignified smile."

Brilliant!!! I am reminded of a butler's tale related in Remains of the Day, where upon discovering a tiger under the table, the butler discreetly consults with his Lordship on the gun to be used, and also that dinner will be served at that ususal time.

Kamini said...

Great fun! I have had many such disasters, but am not sure I dealt with them with the same composure that you did!

Loved Anonymous's comment! I remember that scene from Remains of the Day.


Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable and light hearted read .Reminds me of an author I read as a kid and The name has slipped away ...Hungry for more episodes.

joyshri lobo said...

I’m a retired chaai Mem and general in house maid now. Excellent dosa and vadai mixtures available in all super malls. Let’s hear how other retired mems are faring in front of the choolah. I’d love a few tips on how to cook fast but still miss Thuley khansama a lot. Lovely story Gowri!