Curry leaf conundrum

Curry leaves are annoying irritants when enjoying yummy food...

Curry Leaf

A lover of simple South Indian food for decades, I bemoan a few irritants I have to put up with while eating, as many of my fellow eaters would. I do not mean the differentials in taste like being a tad salty, chilly or saucy, for unlike the hoteliers, the ladies who cook at home use the ingredients by the rule of the thumb and not measure with a kitchen balance. Such welcome variance gives the home food its character, serendipity, setting it apart from the hotel fare, tasting monotonously the same. The irritants are due to the additives thrown in for seasoning.

Take the curry leaves, thrown in, in clusters ceremoniously, after the dish like sambar, has boiled up to the optimum point, so the dish smells and tastes divine. But while swallowing a morsel wolfishly, the dark green leaf entangled in it would make an entry, compelling you to abort your chewing, to remove it from the mouth, a process not at all elegant, especially when fellow diners are around. Nutritionists recommend eating the curry leaf as well, considering the ingrained properties in it, but it is easier said than done. Such advices are meant only for others.

The coriander leaves may pose a different problem. The anaemic-thin, disentangled stem, a few centimetres long that gained entry will make you wonder whether it is that or, horror of horrors, a strand that had escaped from the good lady’s head.

Such a situation may trigger a marital skirmish. But diplomacy being your forte, you would not take it out and display it like an exhibit, produced before the honourable magistrate by the prosecuting counsel, but quietly put it under the plate or leaf to maintain marital harmony.

Avial, the colloidal fusion of several vegetables, the gift of  Malabar, will definitely include drumsticks that may be injudiciously cut into small bits, not larger than two centimetres. The varying ground rule for sambar is each piece should be around minimum six centimetres, so one will have the grip to hold it and run the tubular piece between the frontal rows of teeth to separate the rind therein. But avial is different, wherein the drumstick should not enjoy one-upmanship in size among its brother vegetables. The skins of those mini bits, at times, may get disentangled, leaving the eater, especially the one with cavities resembling the Grand Canyon, struggle with the bits stuck to the upper and lower dental rows.

Understandably, they are pardonable irritants once they had played their roles, but throwing them away with disdain is akin to the captains of industry throwing the special workers out, heartlessly, who had toiled to give the business the extra plus. But that is the way the cookie crumbles!                                                                                               

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