Tuesday, April 12, 2011


It is not as if
They are soft drink formulas
That need to be guarded
Like classified secrets
And cannot be given access to
For unauthorised personnel
They have been handed down
From generation to generation
Mother to daughter,
Daughter-in-law to your son,
Sometimes shared with neighbours
Serving apprenticeship at home,
Now there are the channels, websites and books too
But they will not give you
The insider tips to make your dish
Delicious not merely palatable ---
As for me, I am still grateful
To one or more mentors
Who did not laugh
At my early attempts
To get the ingredients right
For the standard dal gravy
To go with rice
And encouraged me
To venture out to sweets and savouries
This is not about them
But about that woman
(I do not want to take her name
May her rice be always overcooked)
Who tells me how to make chutney
Casually over phone the other day
(She must have been showing off
Her culinary skills before some visitor)
Reads out the entire recipe
I gave her in the first place
Tells me she discovered
How to do it all by herself
Repeats my dialogue back to me
"It's just adding one onion here
And taking away one chilli there"
Then ends her conversation
Helpfully suggesting
"You can always ask me for tips!"
That did it! I will not give anyone
Any recipe anymore,
I know how to make your idlis softer
But I will not tell you
Not on your life!

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