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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

NaBloPoMo 2019: Day 5: Serving Love

Amma had standardized the process of cooking so well that I can’t remember a single instance when there was either a shortage or an excess of food. How can I be so sure? Because “lemon rice” or “chitranna” (which most people make with leftover rice), made only a rare appearance in our house. 

Of course it is quite possible that Amma may have “adjusted” by modifying her portions occasionally and made up the deficit by eating some fruit or kept the leftover rice for herself for the next day. Only much later, when we had all grown up, she gave in to democratically sharing with us anything that was leftover.

Evening coffee and dinner were one of the most delightful times of the day for us. In the morning, everyone would be hurrying and eating breakfast at different times before leaving home. But by evening, everyone would have returned home, and we’d sit in a circle around Amma, who would bring the steel chombu with piping hot coffee, and pour it out into steel tumblers for each of us.
Coffee chombu and tumblers - they're still at home
Chatting about our day, swapping stories and laughing like only little girls can, we munched on the savories Amma had prepared or Appa had bought from some shop (often from Purohit Sweet Mart in Ponda) and sipped the golden-brown brew. How we managed to get authentic south Indian coffee in cha-crazy Goa deserves a blog of its own – wait, I’ve already written about it, and you can read it here

For dinner, we girls would lay the plates on the floor in a circle, with glasses of water for each person. Then we'd plonk ourselves down, sitting cross-legged, waiting. Amma would bring and keep all the food and sit down in the center of the circle, and begin serving.

Rice, with a dollop of ghee, came first.

Then came whatever was on the menu for the day – the humble yet delicious parupu (dal) or the aromatic rasam, or the spicy sambar along with some stir-fried vegetable.

This was followed by a practice common in Appa’s family – mixing rice and chutney, or chutney podi or pickle with some oil to lubricate the mixture.

Last came rice and curds that no one could escape eating – you’d be reminded of how not eating curd rice was like killing a cow or a Brahmin (or something like that) to make sure you toed the line. To our young minds then, fear of that sin was more effective than today’s research papers that praise the health benefits of lactobacilli in yogurt!

Only after she had finished serving Appa rice and curd, would Amma serve food into a plate for herself, timing it such that most of us had also almost finished by the time she began to eat. She’d only rarely ask one of us who had finished dinner to serve something for her.

Those dinner-time conversations are still some of the best memories we sisters have. What we talked about has long been forgotten, but the warmth that bonding generated has sustained through the decades, and even when we meet today, like in those days, Appa has to admonish us to stop talking, and get up and wash our hands and plates, because it’s nearing 11 pm!

Writing this post, I’m struck by how well Amma nourished and nurtured her family. She “Cooked food and served Love” always, far before it became the tagline for Bharat Gas. Indeed, the love she lavished on us was the calm center around which all our lives pivoted.


  1. Anu,sorry I have not been able to comment on the posts. But trust me I read each post the moment I get notification that u have posted. Each post brings me close to tears of gratitude. It's an intense emotional experience. To think that amma such a treasure of virtues.
    You write so well without exaggerating or economising on the truth; as factual as it can be. And all the influence that amma has had on you is clear in every word u write; and on us too, but we r not able to put it into words. It's as if u r our spokesperson. Thank you very much Anu. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ’πŸ’

    1. What a heartfelt and sweet comment, Vatsala! You made my day! I'm delighted to know I'm being a good spokesperson for us all.

    2. Vatsala, I am so glad that Anusuya included me in the list of recipients, .... every description of hers takes me to my home and how we sisters sat together and enjoyed every morsel that came coated with our Mother's love!
      Your Amma has showered so much love on all of you.... and created such good living beings...πŸ™πŸ™

    3. The pleasure is entirely mine, Dr. Sunayna! That generation of mothers were so alike, and we're all so lucky to have had them!

  2. Anu d explanationof janmadtami nd d aroma of bella ghee nd goodies made me feel i wd also b one of ammas daughty.Hats of to u Anu.

    1. Thank you so much! I'm happy you enjoyed it!

  3. I miss these kind of round up dinners.
    What a beautiful memory, Anu. BeautifulπŸ˜πŸ’“

  4. Wow..... What a scenario it would have been I can understand..... Awesome


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