Khoya Aloo Mutter

I have woken up late. It is a holiday. I don’t go downstairs to the kitchen because I want to scrub myself clean today after a week of 5-min showers. Actually I want to avoid the late-comer scene. There may be no dialogue but those scenes are usually the worst. I put it off for later.  

I massage copious amounts of oil on kids’ heads trying to make up for instant noodles, lollipops, smartphones and excessive T.V. I hope I am making up in some way. I scrub them up, dress them and send them downstairs so I can wallow in the bathroom in peace. I massage oil, apply the face pack for good measure and think of soaking my feet but begin to feel I am taking too long. I then try to relax but hurry along at the same time.


It is some auspicious day. When I finally descend downstairs feeling clean, smelling nice for a change, I am ravenous. I eye the kids in the hall watching TV and eating from banana leaves. I head to the kitchen. Nobody’s around. I find some vadais are already fried, payasam made, sambar, rice and potato thokku ready by the side. I grab a vadai and bite into it. There’s no salt in it I realize. I go out with the half eaten vadai and see that there’s no banana leaf in the Pooja room. Poojai is not over yet.

You don’t eat before the poojai (Kids don’t count).


I turn back to the kitchen and try to find a nook to hide my half eaten vadai in. I also know that there’s no salt in it. At that moment, somehow everybody emerges ready for Poojai. Maamiyaar heads to the kitchen to fry more vadais. I have just enough time to snuck the vadai in a corner. I walk out trying to look innocent, casual and purposeful. I don’t want to be stopped.
I hold the terrible truth about the salt-less vadai batter. It breaks me to think I’d have to eat salt-less vadais. My mind races on how best to expose this truth before the vadais are fried.


Just telling her is not an option. That’s not how we roll here.
I ask the kids about the vadai. They haven’t eaten it yet. They’re too engrossed in TV.
I manage to corner Jagan in the hall, I lower my voice and explain in great detail my catch-22 situtation, and reveal that there is no salt in the vadai. He nods sagely and then turns and shouts to his mother in the kitchen “Vadai le uppu illayam” (It seems there is no salt in the vadai).
I look around for the best place to hide and finding nothing, fuss around the kids and try to fit in with them.
Ever happened to you?
My life is filled with diplomatic challenges like these every day.
I had made up my mind to make this Khoya Aloo mutter on Saturday. I walked to the kitchen in the morning mentally going through the best bowl, camera angle for the dish. The house was already abuzz with activity. The ‘coconut tree climber man’ was there hurling down tender coconuts. The maid was busy scooping the tender coconut flesh “vazhikkai” into bowls. The Maamiyaar was busy running around giving instructions.
Drawing as little notice as possible, I went about prepping for the Khoya Aloo mutter. She came in saying “I’ve made Aappam batter. Making Aappam and coconut milk for breakfast”.
I mutter “Oh.. ok” and continue while thinking how to best position Khoya Aloo mutter alongside Aappam.
She asks “Is that for lunch?”
“Yeah, yeah.. Correct. Yeah, it is for lunch.”
I went on to make Garlic Naan to go with the Khoya Aloo Mutter for lunch. I loved the combination. Jagan loved it. Hasini loved it. The Mamiyaar liked it too I am led to think.

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