Monday, June 03, 2019

Dear CJM

As I pressed and shaped these cookies while the oven was heating, I wondered why they looked familiar, and wasn't sure what they reminded me of - but the shape, the size and the edges were exactly like something I'd seen somewhere.

After they'd cooled a bit, I broke one into pieces and tasted it - and memories came rushing back. Memories of the 'tuck wallah' who sat near the junior school building at break time and outside at the car park (the one inside the big gates, where we never saw a single car parked, ever) when the going home bell had gone. We had junior school morning assembly there, and later, as seniors, that's where we played throwball.

I can actually see the tuck wallah, with his big, bony frame, hair and beard orange* with henna, loose pajama-kurta and small neat trunk of goodies. And the goodies, all packed carefully in packets of see through butter paper, folded and stapled at the top. He had a sort of tray with compartments and  it held all the items, arranged so attractively!

For 15 paisey, he sold a cookie like the one in the picture, packets of salted shelled peanuts, thick salted potato chips, red hot chilli potato chips and little squares of light brown or white fudge. There were small samosas, priced at 25 paisey, and I think there were veg. and mutton patties as well. The mutton patty was the 'expensive' item.

The bestEST thing in his trunk were 'sticky chips'. I'm sure none of my friends has forgotten the taste! Deep brown shiny sweet coating on cruchy pieces of chips. Oh it was heavenly, especially if you'd bought one just as the bell rang after break. You could open your desk and eat a little bit in the Sanskrit period (always the first period after break)!

The sticky chips came from the same source as the other chips - they were deep fried sun dried sliced potatoes. The fried chips were broken into little pieces and coated in really dark caramel and allowed to dry. My adult mind worked out the composition of course, those days they were just deliciously sticky and mysterious and never to be seen anywhere else.

Please write to me if you want the cookie recipe.

*I remember asking my father how some men had orange and red hair; was it because they used red coloured hair oil?
The sticky chips scholar

One of our wonderful teachers Ms Susheila Mani, with dear Sr Dorothy who was the principal when I joined school. Thank you for putting up this pic on Facebook, Ms Mani. And thank you for everything, CJM.