When North meets South

He hoped to see aloo, puree and pickles, but instead found idli, dosa, vada and sambar.

Mr Chhiber and Mr Prasad were long time friends having worked in the same company for nearly four decades. After retirement, Mr C settled down in Delhi and Mr P in Bengaluru, but they made it a point to keep in touch with each other on phone and via email.

Mrs C planned to go out of Delhi for two weeks once and when Mr P learnt about it, he invited his friend to Bengaluru instead of spending the hot summer alone, an invitation his friend readily accepted. Thus, Mr C landed at his friend’s house late one night.

In the morning, there was a knock on his door and the helper brought him the very own south Indian kaapi in a steel tumbler. C sahib hated the smell but politely accepted it and added loads of sugar to gulp it down his throat.

C sahib and his friend sat in the lawn, reading newspapers, interspersed with the gossip of the days, when Mrs P walked up to them and announced that the breakfast was ready. By sheer habit, he was hoping to see aloo, puree, pickles and egg bhhujia, but instead found idli, dosa, vada and sambar with the attendant chutneys. The breakfast was served in a silver thaali.

Mr C was flummoxed and waited for the host and the hostess to take the lead. Being accustomed to using both hands in tearing his purees apart into bits and pieces, he found himself handicapped, having to rest his left hand on the knee.

The friends spent their morning sightseeing and came home for lunch. What Mr C found on the lunch table was yet another unfamiliar sight. As he started digging in, he was given a detailed introduction by Mrs P somewhat like, “Mr C, meet Mr Kharabhaat, made out of rice and lentils.” Mrs Rasam was served in small bowls and there was left over sambar from the morning to complete the meal. The meal ended with curd rice which Mr C laced with pickles to convert the blandness into spiciness. 

Coconut seemed to be the backbone of the meals. He was hoping to be served a Patiala peg but was instead

offered some fresh coconut water.
However, in about five days, Mr C got so hooked to the south Indian dishes that Mrs P had to double the produc-tion and spray red pepper flakes on the dosas.

Back home, after Mrs C had come back from her holiday, Mr C came to the dining table to find the oil-laced bhaturas and channa laid out. He threw a fit and demanded idli sambar, kharabhaat and coconut chutney. Mrs C, who didn’t know how to react to this outburst, kept a glum face and kept out of trouble by leaving the dining room.

Mr C then enrolled his driver, Raghu, to drive him to various Udupi hotels and eateries located in different parts of Delhi. He also made it a point to carry a flask to bring home a few cups of Darshini-like coffee.

Post script. It is reliably learnt that Mrs C is taking practical lessons in South Indian culinary meals from Mrs Gowda, living on the sixth floor of their apartment complex. She also spends many hours on YouTube watching demonstrations of making idlis, dosas and other south Indian dishes.

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