Monday, June 23, 2008

Tamarind Trilogy

I know.... I had vanished into thin air(wish I could...). Well, May and June was a whole month of travelling - packing, taking off, returning, unpacking, LAUNDRY.... and falling ill and recovering (of which we took turns).... so, my blog had taken the backseat. But now I am back with a Bang!!! or should I say TANG, the Tamarind Tang I mean :-) Through all the mayhem of May and June, I always found time to peek into the food blog world. The other day I saw Sig's JFI-Tamarind announcement and was lured back into my own sadly neglected blog.

Tamarind, the very name brings back to me lots of sweet(!?) memories and doesn't fail to make my mouth water in anticipation of the tangy taste. I just love the sweet 'n' sour taste. The first bite into raw tamarind, that unfailingly makes you squeeze your eyes shut or wink, pucker up ur lips and fills up your mouth with saliva is oh! so heavenly. It immediately transports me back to my school days where a piece of tamarind was the BEST treat one could possible get or give. More than 90% of the girls I know, love tamarind. It surely must be a 'girly' thing, something in our genetic construction that triggers the love.

I remember an incident that happened during my 10th Standard. There was this girl called Ronia C George(yup, I remember her full name), who was new to school, and was desperately trying to fit in. She would come to school everyday from a nearby village. She somehow let a few of us know that there was a tamarind tree back at her place. After much pestering she agreed(she had no other choice, poor thing) to get some to school, and her 'some' turned out to be a huge plastic bag full of juicy ripe tamarinds in their shells! It was a dynamite combo, 'A class full of about 70 or so girls and a bag full of fresh ripe tamarind' It was the worst kept secret. What was meant for just a few of us, passed from hand to hand and the whole class was a giggling, signalling, begging, passing, slurping, tamarind eating, shell throwing frenzy. By midday, the whole floor of the classroom(below the benches only) was strewn with tamarind shells. We miraculously escaped being caught by all the 4 teachers who took classes before lunch. The frenzy continued right through lunch time. Some girls from the neighbouring classes joined in too...Before anyone of us could realize lunchtime was up and Sister Chantel(hope I got her name correct, but I definitely remember her face that day) who had the first class after lunch walked in. She was horror struck to see the classroom. By now, most of the shells had escaped the confines of the benches and desks and were scattered all across the room. You can imagine what must have passed after that.....
Poor Ronia ended up gettig the max number of 'bad points' for the month, and we all had to stay back and sweep the classroom clean :-( But, no regrets there ;-)

My infatuation with tamarind goes waaaaaaaay back, when as 8-9 year olds we would steal tamarind, jaggery etc from the kitchen, pound them all together to form a ball that we would stick on a stick and suck on it happily, ending up with cracked tounges....I guess I was among the first ones to rejoice when Hajmola came up with their 'Chulbuli Imli' and I would never return from the Rajasthan/UP/Orissa etc handicraft melas without a stash of the lip smacking imli, mango, pomegranate churans. Even to this day, a small piece of tamarind inevitably ends up in my mouth while I take some out for cooking, for which I have endured many a teasings(you are eating tamarind!! anything special???). Sweet, huh?? or is it rather Sour???

This event has brought all that back to me. I want to present these three dishes for the event, honoring those days and my favorite Tamarind.

Khara Pongal with huNase gojju

Thanks Sig for choosing this wonderful ingredient and Indira of Mahanandi for starting the JFI event.

1 comment:

Sig said...

Wow Alamelu, that is a sweet tribute to Tamarind, and an entertaining story to boot... Thank you for all the four entries :) Now let me go check out the other three...