Let me state this at the outset, to avoid hate speech from those who believe that my loyalties have shifted. There is nothing that can ever come close to the divinity of eating Curd Rice. There’s something magical about every bowl you eat, and a story behind every tadka added to the dish. Personally, I prefer eating my Curd Rice plain. No additives, please.
As a child I used to enjoy the dish with Pickle. Although I oft enquired why banana leaf caterers (I really don’t know how to phrase it) put pomegranate in the totem of my South Indian heritage, I developed a soft corner for it. Crunchy, sweet & salty, it became something to look forward to at the end of a tedious wait in the line at weddings & receptions. (to interact with the bride & groom for 2 minutes, of course).
Anyway. Tracing my affection for this food (or any food) would necessitate the writing of a novel. Something I don’t have the time for, so I’ll keep this short. I discovered Aloo Parantha. (don’t say Ayyo, read the first line again).
If I had to sum up my last semester in 3 words, they would be: Excitement, Meals & Milkshakes. My journey in Khakhraland began with some excellent dal, and took an intermission with the finest aloo parantha I have eaten on campus. Naturally, I was excited last night, when I read the menu board with “Alu Paratha” scrawled across it in black marker.
To prepare myself, I evaded snack. Maggi, they said. The mess was too far, I retorted, keeping my intentions hidden. I worked hard, reading multiple articles on Space Law, taking a break to watch Sunita Williams’ video on eating in space, and returning to the CoCoSL. Fun times, these were.
And then it happened. The hunger pangs struck, my belly churned, rumbled & craved, clearly forgetting it had to go through pain to experience paradise. I could taste the Amul butter on my lips, the soft texture made me salivate. I looked at my watch. 7:40, it read.Dinner time, I said.
I saw some friends walking toward the mess and joined them in earnest, my brain painting space with images of the delicacy, instantly. We reached the edifice and at my first glance, I knew I had arrived too early.
I pressed the caterer, longingly, “Bhaiyya, kabhi aayega?”, I asked. He replied, “Aat baje”, to my disdain. I was vehemently cross. I thought my training at home prepared me better, what with meals being served at any time I wanted them. I was wrong. So wrong.
The feeling of longingness was worsened by the marvelous smell wafting in from the kitchen area. They were being readied. I could hardly contain myself.
Like a gladiator, I steadied myself for battle. 1 stainless steel plate, 1 stainless steel spoon, 2 stainless steel bowls. I filled my Curd, smacked my lips once more. I had been waiting for this since lunch.
Bhaiyya Number 2 arrived. I looked at him as he laid down the container. He looked at me, a broad smile across his face. The Gods had been kind. The plate was full. The plate was heavy.
I walked to my bench.
And then it happened.
I re-discovered Aloo Parantha.