The festival of lights is one that we eagerly await for year after year. Many of us look forward to eating some of the traditional sweets that make an appearance especially during this time. My husband on the other hand peeps into the goody bags hoping for his all time favourite Deepavali snack ; mixture ! We otherwise never stock up on this spicy treat at home. Once a year our side board in the dining area turns into a mini mixture outlet.
Yes ! Because he must sample every kind of mixture that makes it’s entry into our home. Over the years this famous Indian snack has seen many variations. People have tried to make it healthy by adding pounded ragi flakes , dry roasted red rice aval , raisins , various other lentils and what not. They’re all very tasty in their own way but one has to admit that the heart lies with the traditional deep fried boondi (Fried gram flour rounds) mixture ,all crisp and golden with the bits of crunchy curry leaves , fried peanuts , cashewnut halves and thin long strips of omapodi (crunchy strips of gram flour). It culminates in a deafening avalanche of crunch in the mouth.
The noise of devouring mixture prevents one from eating it alone in company! Mixture also tastes best when finding a companion to eat it with. This mindless chomping leads to some very deep conversations is what I have discovered over the years. And all the while with the eyes not leaving the bowl of mixture , mind you !
Have you tried eating it noiselessly ? Not only does it require complete concentration it also takes forever. I have tried when the kids were toddlers because I didn’t want them asking for some, quite exhausting I can assure you!
A few weeks ago while I was on a walk around town hall, I discovered a very familiar morsel that I hadn’t seen in decades. It was at the New Annapurna Sweets on Raja street. The cabinets with the see through glass housed many snacks and these little (what we used to refer to as ) diamond biscuits caught my eye. When we were kids ,it was always a part of the mixture that was made at home. The many cooks making the Diwali palagaram (goody bag) would make the mixture first ,then these mildly sweet /salty nuggets would be strewn on the top. That hint of sugar would add a perfect contrast to the chilli flavor in the mixture.
We each had our own unique way of eating mixture. My mother would love to take a spoonful in the middle of her palm and pop a few individual bits into her mouth before tossing in the final crumbs in one whole swoop. The spoon would go in again for another palm full. A lot of us kids were known to dip our fingers into the mixture packet and take it straight to the mouth. Of course that led to a lot of pieces on the floor not to mention the smearing at the corners of our mouth but somehow we didn’t really seem to care. The properly behaved lot took out bowls and spoons, filled it to the brim, sat at the table and ate to their heart’s content. I’m not letting in on which of the techniques I perfected on.
But our ‘mixture appreciation’ exposure didn’t end there.We were taught how we could treat ourselves to some at lunchtime without feeling like gluttons. This is how it goes. Fill a small bowl with thick fresh curd. Top it with a generous mound of mixture and enjoy it by the spoonful. It makes for one of the most delicious combinations that you can possibly imagine. Of course the ratio of mixture to curd depended on each person’s taste buds . I have successfully passed that habit on to the next generation of mixture connoisseurs and they love it just as much.
Thankfully this year too we have lots of dabbas of mixture that have been lovingly made at home and packaged by many of the aunts in the family. The 100gms of diamond biscuit that I bought will be added to the mixture and we shall happily chomp our way down the mixture memory lane yet again !