Milagai bajji

Milagai Bajji, 3 ways

You know that spring of joy when you look out the window and see rain? It’s hard to make sense of it. It’s almost visceral. Rain means happiness, that everything’s going to be alright, that this too will pass, that good things will happen. Whoever said “rainy is gloomy” watched too many Wimbledon matches. It’s like the rounded R’s that people mouth when they return from the US. It’s what we think we need to say. It’s not what we feel deep inside. Rain always, always means happy things. We’ve got it down to a well-worn formula in life and in cinema. Rain means traffic, so we can be late. Rain means cheery rain songs on radio & hot crispy snacks in the canteen. Rain means cancelled classes and school holidays. In cinema rain means heroine introduction, rain means a happy dance, rain means romance, rain means an important twist or the climax. These are the clichés that we love and cherish. For me rain means “Oho Megam” song from “Mouna Raagam” or “Vaan Megham” from “Punnagai Mannan”. Only those two and nothing else. My mind seems stuck in the late 80s. And only Ilayaraja songs will do. That’s just how it is. I am an 80’s child. Rain also means a big plate of piping hot, sinus-opening, throat-scorching Milagai bajji. I love the classic Milagai bajji – the entire chilli, seeds and all, dunked in bajji batter and fried to golden brown perfection. My nose may start running and I may appear to be weeping. But don’t take the plate away from me. It’s the kind of dare-devil things I like to do. I long wanted to try a few other variants of the milagai bajji. One was a potato stuffed bajji that I thought might be a milder, just as tasty version for less adventurous souls. In this one, I make a slit and scrape out the seeds from within the chilli and stuff with spiced potatoes. The third version is a mini milagai bajji bomb. If wolfing down an entire chilli seems forbidding, you can start with these mini milagai bajji bites. I cut up the chilli into little roundels and dunk in bajji batter and fry. These are like the bijli vedi (the little cigarette like single-shot deepavali cracker) – small and cute but still explosive. Last Saturday, I woke up to a cool, drizzly, cloudy...

Rain-holidays and Egg Bajjis in monsoon struck Madras

There is no better feeling than when you wake up in the morning weary and disgruntled thinking of going to school (or readying the kids for school) and then suddenly hear that it’s a holiday because of the rains. Really! It is a one-of-a-kind feeling. Not the same as knowing before-hand about a holiday. Not the same as pretending to be sick and taking leave. This is guilt-free, unexpected, sudden joy. Nothing like it! Bliss! The past week was just this. After the first rain-holiday, we got into the practice of groping for the mobile phone first thing in the morning and squinting through half closed eyes checking our SMS’es for the school’s announcement hoping for another rain-holiday. And they never once disappointed. Every day the school sent an SMS announcing a holiday because of the rains. Yuvi would lift up his head to confirm if it was a holiday “Amma leave a?” and when I told him it was, he’d smile contentedly and drop back on to his pillow. I’d curl up next to him and go back to sleep. I always wait for the rains. Madras looks so much better in rains – atleast the first day. By the fourth day I want the bloody thing to stop. I’ve run out of my kids’ jatties (underwear). It is such a pain hauling all the wet clothes around, laying them out on tables, racks, coat-stands and mats all over the house, turning them over half way through and personally fan-drying every T-shirt, nighty and lungi. This time I just let it all soak up 3 days of non-stop north-east monsoon rains. I was down to my kids’ last few emergency jatties in my handbag but I decided to let go (of the wet clothes), live the moment, enjoy the rain. Rainy day watercolour? Picture through car’s windscreen What I miss is a large window to sit by and watch the rain however clichéd that may sound. I am a sucker for such clichés. Bajjis during rain must the most dog-tired, hackneyed clichés around and I may say it often too but you will never catch me saying “No” to bajjis when it is raining. The truth is you will never catch me saying “No” to bajji anytime, rain or not. You have to admit that the idea of sitting by a window looking at the pouring rain, biting into...