Romeo-Juliet, Heer-Ranjha and Idli-vade

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: Ever since the first stirrings of life on planet earth; since the time when man came to be classified as homo sapien from the earlier Australopithecus; since he began to walk the earth erect; from the time when tigers in India were counted in their thousands and their deep rumbling roar reverberated around the denseness of my favourite Kakanakote jungles on more nights than you can imagine—to me, there has been one thing that has for ever been integral to my very reason to get on with the business of life.

Among the most far-reaching, innovative, creative, intensely satisfying, and undoubtedly invaluable inventions of man (or was it a woman?), it has held sway over my being, tantalised my palate, thrown me into pangs of insatiable yearning, tickled my urge to indulge, to let go of my inhibitions at a dining table and devour it with the kind of voraciousness generally reserved for hounds—it is uddina vade!

The huge iron kadai, blackened by layers of soot over long years of taking the searing heat sits in ancient repose on the three-pointed platform of a kerosene-driven pump stove. The dark brown oil boils inside, forming geometric circles that move from the middle towards the sides of the kadai.

The batter comprising urad dal, green chilly, pepper, salt, tiny pieces of coconut and ginger takes on the shape of luscious rotundity before it is patted to a nicety and eased into the boiling oil. All this, not before making a small hole in the centre.

The sound that emanates when batter meets oil is a kind of hiss that could well be the whispering of sweet nothings into the ears of a beloved, the hum of intimacy from heaving hearts laden with love!

The globs of batter bob in the simmering oil looking like tiny buoys in a yellowish brown ocean. A seemingly uniformly regulated fizz issues forth from the oil as the batter fries in it. Delicate hands turn them around with either a small stick or a ladle with a perforated round base at one end.

Some ten minutes into the action, the globs of batter assume a colour that is burnished gold, the colour of a resplendent dawn, and rise up to the oil’s surface.

Hot, luscious and mouth watering, succulent from the inside but crisp on the outside, a wisp of vapour that floats away into the blue yonder as you ever so gently and carefully take the first bite, uddina vades are a godly treat!

Perhaps served for the first time in Treta-yuga, at the victory banquet hosted by Lord Rama!

It’s another thing that in Kali-yuga, we mortals extended its serving even to the occasion when a dear one has departed to be at the lotus feet of the Lord!

Perhaps the only snack that can assume various flavours and still be a serious temptation.

Dunk it in sambar and it becomes soft, spongy, delicate, and evenly balanced. Eat it with coconut chutney and it gives you a crisp, wholesome taste. Immerse it in curd and top it with some spicy boondi and shredded kottambri leaves and it takes on a whole new meaning. Savour it with well garnished rasam and it simply, divinely melts in your mouth.

Romeo-Juliet, Heer-Ranjha, Gundappa Vishwanath-square cut, and idli-vade—oh to be just alive!

An old friend who once bumped into me in a bank after ages remarked, “Hey, you seem to be like god, not easily seen.”

I quipped instantly, “my friend, why say, like god? I’m god himself. Formless and shapeless!”

With all the humongous quantities of uddina vade that I love to eat, how can I ever have human proportions after all!

ps: Oops, time for a jog. I’m already late!

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4 Comments »

  1. WoW… I could actually see the bobbing uddina vade in front of me and involuntarily my mouth started watering.

    All good things in life are bad for health!!

    How i wish one day they discover a uddin vade without cholestrol and actually prescribe for good health.

    Good descpritive post.

  2. vinay said

    i really have to mention …the background colour for this blog is so bad that i need 10 mins to recover from the
    effect of seeing so much green. Saar, kosambari color olle gandhada color saar….pls change the colour scheme
    if u want some hits to this blog

  3. Sanjay Guha said

    Sakath Write Up moga. You had me salivating. How I miss Karnataka, the land of the Ultimate Idli and Vade.

  4. Janasamanya said

    Idli-Vade, aha, aha…. Olle haiku kavithe thara ide kelodikke!

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