A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for April 5th, 2019

E for Elevate

Posted by Pepper on April 5, 2019

My parents have lived in the same apartment in Mumbai for the last 15 years or more. Safe to say that my family is reasonably close to all our immediate neighbours. However, our last trip to India made us experience a different level of warmth and bonding with the folks next door. The presence of Cotton and Candy made all the difference.

Right from the day we landed, neighbours started pouring in to meet the little ones. The love and warmth they extended to them took me by surprise. Over time, CottonCandy became extremely fond of them too and would insist on spending time in their homes.

We became particularly close to our immediate neighbours. Their daughter, R didi would come to our house every.single.day at around 7.30 pm and spend about an hour playing with Cotton and Candy. Often, her parents would join in after work and we would have a merry time in the evenings, chatting up about our day and playing with the kids. What is it about kids that makes adults bond? We had never experienced this camaraderie with our neighbours until Cotton and Candy came along.

The said neighbours invited us for lunch in the week we were to leave. We gladly accepted. Now what do I say about the food they served? The adais were exceptional. The avial was finger licking. The other accompaniments were delicious. We ate. We were unstoppable.

It was here that I tasted it for the first time. It so happened that I was pouring a spoonful of ghee on my plate of steaming dal and rice. That’s when P aunty told me to try some of her freshly prepared lemon pickle. Saying that, she placed the jar and a clean spoon in front of me. Never the one to decline home made pickles, I added some to my plate and tasted it. Oh my God. I will never forget that first taste. That pickle was a bomb. Never had I tried a pickle so full of flavour. I felt like my entire life had been wasted. Where had this pickle been all along?

I couldn’t stop raving about it to her. I couldn’t stop eating it. Oh God, I want this. I want this so bad, I kept thinking. She seemed happy to note my very genuine appreciation. In my head, I was hatching plans of making her offer me a tiny jar so I could carry it back. Would it be possible that I actually get to carry some of this magic back with me?

Of course, I couldn’t get myself to tell her I want to take some of it and pack it in my bag. So I continued praising it, hoping that was enough. Instead, she offered me the recipe. Oh damn, while I was happy to have the recipe and try it on my own, I was pretty damn sure I would never be able to replicate the flavour. I thanked her for the recipe anyway.

And just when I had given up, the offer came. ‘I have two jars. Why don’t you take one with you? I keep making it anyway’. ‘Oh, no aunty, that is so sweet of you, but don’t bother’ I said. Jeez, why did those words escape my mouth? I said it before I could stop myself. Now what if she took them seriously and recalled her offer? Really, I wanted it so bad, so why did I have to pretend that I didn’t? Perhaps because it would have been rude to jump to it and tell her ‘Oh thank you, I have been waiting for you to utter these words!’ Adults play such annoying mind games.

She insisted we take some. Thank God. In the end, the pickle was given to us in a glass jar of Ching’s schezwan sauce. We taped the lid and packed it in our bags after thanking P aunty a million times. Now what do I say about this pickle, really? Believe me, it elevates the taste of everything it comes in contact with. It takes it to the highest level. We eat it with parathas, curd rice, upma, varan bhaat, and everything else possible. It is pretty damn spicy and we love the zing it adds.

Mint and I have had several arguments when we think our speed of consumption has gone off limits. Both of us accuse the other of going at it too fast. We eye each other’s plate and take note of the quantity each of us has and sometimes get mad because the other seems to have a speck more. After all, we have only one jar and have to use it sparingly.

As I mixed the pickle into my bowl of palak dal and rice and thought of how the taste was elevated, I thought I had to write about this for my post today.

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