Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Isn't it amazing how a particular smell can do a 180 on your attitude? Even if it's just the MEMORY of a smell?

Try it right now. Take a deep breath and imagine the smell of chocolate-chip cookies baking in the oven. Drink it in for at least 5 seconds.

Now open your eyes and examine the goofy smile on your face.

Most baked goods will do that to me: cupcakes, croissants, banana bread. There's also the smell of basmati rice boiling on the stove, tea leaves infusing, or the bagaar (I don't know if I spelled that correctly, Mum!), the finishing spice touch used in a lot of South-Indian cooking: garlic, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cudipattha (curry leaves), all sizzling merrily in some hot oil.

But nothing, oh nothing compares to the smell of freshly-made chapatis (cha-PAA-thees). This thin, unleavened whole-wheat griddle bread has the power to turn my normally controlled and serious visage into a total doofus-face grin.

In my rose-tinted memory, I picture myself waking up in the wee hours, roused by the toasty smell that, in veritable Tom-and-Jerry fashion, had hooked its two fingers in my nose, levitated me out of bed and floated me downstairs into the kitchen.

Either Nanny or Mum were in there, rolling and frying the chapatis, a small heap collecting in the round stainless steel container on the counter. The flask was full of tea, the butter and the jam were laid out if you wanted to add anything to your chapatis, the call to prayer pierced the peaceful morning air... I just took the deepest sigh. :)

I used to help Nanny make them when I was young. If I remember correctly, I think I did a pretty good job, although both Mum and Nanny used to make fun of my rolling abilities (the hardest part), comparing their perfectly round or triangular bread to my Horn of Africa shaped ones.

Here's Nanny.

Someone once told that your first test as a new wife was whether your chapatis were up to the standards of your new mother-in-law. If she liked them, you were golden. If not, well, you had some butt-kissing to do.

Mine are alright, nowhere near Mum's. I decided to make some this morning from last night's leftover dough... hence the PJs.

Wanna learn how to make 'em? OK!


1 comment:

keven said...

i closed my eyes and imagined the smell of napalm in the morning... did i miss the point? oh I want some more of your food. yummy.

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