Sunday, April 25, 2010

The stars shine down

‘In the deep woods, there was a lonely castle… stood a fair maid amidst the dark, starring at the shining stars…’, as the story continued,

I leaned forward, to grab the first handful of rice, that rested peacefully in my grandmother’s hands, not being touched by my grandfather’s story. I took an indulging and caressing look, I reached out closer, with my eyes and ears on the shining stars, and as I was about to savor it— it vanished. Someone took it. And this time the culprit was my brother. I demanded, next is for me! No, it’s for me -this time it’s my other three sisters. No I— . I am the elder one, and I should be more patient -that’s my grandma. OK. OK. I will wait!

Amidst the splendor and festivity of days, we sometimes have days, rather, nights like this. In the not-much deep woods, there was a lonely castle, and this time—Five of us stood, demanding for more stories and more food, in an open terrain under the starry sky, with few light-flies glittering around us. Our grandparents live in a beautiful village house, surrounded with land full of trees, crops and weeds, as far as we could see. The neighbor next door, we have to walk a mile or two. During holidays and festival times, we— my and my cousin’s family gather to celebrate the season together. The adults will be busy cooking or preparing for the festival.

And for us, it’s a different story. The days were spent wandering through the lands with our grandpa, watching him water the crops, playing in the water, peeping in to the well and much more. As slowly, the sun sets in the horizon, and the little stars twinkle in the sky, our nights would come to a standstill. Each of us have our own bed— rather I should say, a cot made just with the ropes. And we lay them one after other in the open roof outside the house.

Each dinner night, our grandmother brings a big vessel filled with enough rice and the simmered pot of a lavishing eggplant curry, she made earlier in the day. The aromatic smell from that curry arouses all our senses. She makes a big ball of them, and keeps on her hand, just for us to grab and savor it. Nothing tasted much better than that. A love affair, that happened then, will never leave our hearts for the rest of the days to come, and will never compare to the rest of the foods we eat.

The curry was fabulous, and the stories were thoughtful, and the skies were bright. It seemed the stars were listening, as they shined down to nod; and the birds echoed with our grandfather at the end of his each statement.

Days and nights were beautiful and it was meant to be— till life took over;

'Life would be the same forever, with the same food, same love, and same moon, as long as the stars shine down', I thought.

The gods were laughing! And I didn’t hear them do.

Not that I am complaining now. It’s just, the remains of the past are nothing, but dreams happened in real.

Though a part of me long’s for those days, but,

Yet the stars shine down, I still make the curry, I still have the hope of feeding my children, I still believe the moon follows us where ever we go. And still, I vaguely remember the stories to tell them, how the stars shine down.

I’m glad; I can share the story and the curry—

The gods must be smiling!

IMG_23073/4 cup Green Moongdal whole [dry roasted and soaked overnight]
2 Tomatoes
1 large red onion
2 red chili or more as per taste
2 medium size Eggplants/Brinjal [Optional]
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
2 or 3 Curry Leaves
2 tbsp Curry Powder or Sambhar powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
1/4 tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp red chili powder[Use only if more you need the dish to be more spicy]
Coriander leaves to garnish
1 tbsp Oil

Pressure cook the moongdal with enough water. Preserve the water and the cooked moongdal.

Blanch one tomato i.e. place the tomato in a vessel and cover with enough water. Boil the water for about 15-20 minutes, till the skin tomato becomes tender and easily peel able. Once done, discard the skin and mash the tomato.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds, red chilies and curry leaves and let them splutter. Add the onions and fry till the onion turn slightly brown.

Add the blanched tomato along with the chopped tomato and all spice powders. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, till the tomato is soft and mixed well with the gravy. If adding Eggplants, add now, simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes till the eggplants are tender.

Add the cooked moongdal with the preserved water, adjust the water according to your preference of the curry thickness, however a slight this consistency would be tastier. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or roti.

Sending this recipe to Jo's Mother's Day Event.


  1. i donno what to admire your story or recipe. Love the way you shared the recipe with a story. I am still inside the story :-) Beautiful click and very nice recipe.

  2. A very nice touching incident very well narrated.It brings back my chilhood memories at my grandparents place too.Never had eggplant with moongdaal.Sure looks very delicous.

  3. Click is wonderful Kalai. Never tried it before. A must try.

  4. Lovely curry and nice combo!

  5. The curry looks delicious..the moong dal egg plant combination is really good.i used to prepare the moong spinach combo not yet tried this one.nice pic too.did u use the whole moong dal or splitted one
    Nice reading yarr. really nostalgic na.i was just picturising .really nice story yarr..grandparents ..the best gift from GOD.their stories food etc precious thing in evryone's life..

  6. Being a veg, I could not comment on this dish but thoroughly enjoyed the write-up. We carry on with our life with these wonderful memories and hope to make it true some day, good luck !!!!!

  7. I love the way you hv started the post.. it really took me to your world:)

  8. Curry looks rich and delicious dear :-)
    Nice click!!!

  9. curry looks very yummy and delicious....nice click.

  10. Nice reading ur post kalai.. the dish is so interesting and never made this before.. sure it must taste great.. will make this some time.

  11. Such a beautiful write up Kalai, enjoyed reading..curry looks simply delicious and yumm!!

  12. Kalai,

    Nice writeup with wonderful yummy curries. I love it. It brought back my childhood memories of my grandma.

  13. The story just touched my well written....the dish looks delectable too...

  14. Very well write up Kalai..
    Thank you so much for sending this wonderful recipe to my event.

  15. Loved your story...wonderful ! And great recipe too..Never thought of this combo before..

  16. Hi Kalai...thanks a lot for the lovely comments u r making on my posts...I am so glad that u are going thru my old posts too....
    I am using Canon (DSlR)'s Rebel xt version..even I am so happy that a perfect food photographer like u is appreciating my photographs...I am still on the learners' stage and learning lots of stuff from u people in touch and have a grt day...

  17. Awesome post dear..this brings a lot of childhood memories for me too :)...lovely and delicious curry too :)

  18. Hi Kalai, very beautifully written dear, I am transferred to ur world. What ur grandma did for u all, my MIL does it for all the grandchildren when we visit her it's called Kai-tuttu in Kannada.

  19. the story is so touching...nice of u to share...the curry looks sooo good, too!

  20. Wonderful writing dear...this combo is new to me...luks delicious.

  21. Good write and a good recipe!Lovely blog kalai!

  22. Very nice recipe, beautiful clicks too to make it more tempting...

  23. Lovely post and great curry ! Loved the combination and it looks inviting....