A few days ago, I got caught in an unexpected downpour. As the raindrops pelted down, I could think of only thing: getting home and wrapping my fingers around a hot drink with something spicy to munch. What is it about rain that sets us craving for food?
I got home and over my delicious mug of sukku coffee (coffee flavoured with dry ginger and jaggery), I thought about all the special foods that we savour only during the monsoons.
The first that came to mind was the old man with his long tin box shouting ‘thenga manga pattani’, as he lumbered slowly down the road. We would quickly send out for some, as he took shelter beneath the wide trees. He would fold little squares of newspaper into cones and stuff them to bursting point with a warm spicy mixture of boiled peas, channa, bits of green mango and coconut. How I would love some now! The dampened newspaper would quickly come apart as we hurried to stuff delicious handfuls into our mouths.
If it rained during tea time, as it often did, then it was time for crisp pori with spicy morru molagai and fried garlic. The burnished gold garlic stained with turmeric added a mellow sweetness to the crunchy puffed rice. Once we got started, it was hard to stop. The sharp spicy taste of the chilli would be accentuated by every sip of hot tea. Once we had eaten our fill, we would push bits of pori to the corners of our lips to resemble demon’s teeth and try to scare each other.
Samosas and masala tea are another great combo during the rains. One can also substitute masala vadais for the samosas. In the hills, people take shelter under umbrellas while eating roasted corn on the cob fresh from the open grill. Generously smeared with chilli powder and lime, the corn would make the lips burn and the taste would linger on ,tingling the taste buds but that only made it more enjoyable.
Stashes of kai murukku, salty banana chips, kaara kadalai would made great accompaniments to a good book and the rhythmic pitter-patter. Ever wondered why bondas, pakodas and molagai bajjis taste so much better during the rainy weather? Even the most die hard health freak cannot resist tucking into such fare on a cloudy day.
My friends from the north speak excitedly of fried bajjiyas and halwa-puri. Coincidentally, most of the food associated with the rains are fried are they not ?!! I wonder how that came about !?
Probably because this will be eaten while still piping hot, thus making it perfect for the cold weather.
Whatever be your choice, the rains are a great time for bonding with loved ones. Even a possible power cut cannot take away the pleasure of huddling under a blanket and eating all you want.