A plateful of golden delights

I was born and brought up in the small mining town of Kolar Gold Fields. Kolar Gold Fields, or KGF as everyone calls it, had a large and predominant British and Anglo-Indian population and was known as ‘The Little England’ in the olden days. Our lives therefore were influenced to a great extent by British Colonial culture.Our food habits were typically Anglo-Indian - breakfast was normally a bowl of oats porridge, toast with either butter and jam or eggs.

 Sundays saw sausages, bacon or ham on the breakfast table. Lunch consisted of steamed rice, beef curry with vegetables, pepper water or dal curry, and a vegetable foogath or side dish. Dinner was always bread or dinner rolls with a dry meat dish. It was an unwritten rule that we didn’t eat rice at night.

My mother was an exceptional cook and even the most ordinary dishes cooked by her tasted delicious. 
She had a procedure for everything. The onions had to be thinly sliced and the green chillies and coriander leaves chopped finely. Even the tomatoes for the curry were first scalded or blanched and the skin removed, then chopped into bits and strained through a strainer / sieve so that only the pulp was used and the seeds and skin thrown away! While our everyday lunch was considered simple, lunch on
Saturdays and Sundays was special.

Saturday lunch was invariably yellow coconut rice, mince ball curry (or bad word curry as the word 'ball' was considered bad), and Devil Chutney. We had only half-day school so we were back home by 12.30 pm ravenously hungry and we’d be assailed by the delicious aroma of the rice and the tasty curry even before we reached our gate. The mince for the curry, had to be just right, so the meat, (either beef or mutton), was brought home fresh from the butcher shop, cut into pieces, washed and then minced.

We had our own meat-mincing machine and coconut scraper which was fixed to the kitchen table like every Anglo-Indian family in those days. The ground meat or mince, was then formed into even sized balls along with other chopped ingredients and dropped into the boiling curry which was meanwhile cooking on the stove.

The yellow coconut rice was always prepared with freshly squeezed coconut milk. Sometimes, two fresh coconuts would be broken and then scraped or grated.For every cup of rice double the quantity of coconut milk was the right proportion. So very accurate measurements were required. The mince ball curry was always accompanied with a typical Anglo-Indian sauce known Devil Chutney - a fiery red chutney or sauce. Its bright red colour often misleads people to think that it is a very pungent and spicy dish, while it is actually a sweet and sour sauce, and only slightly pungent.

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