Friday, 25 April 2008

To Manni, with love...

Back when I started my engineering, my college was a good 2 hours away from my place and even then if I got all the connecting trains on time. It was getting really tedious and exhausting to travel daily. So we (Me & another of my friend) were very happy when our friend N shifted close to the college. She immediately offered for us to move in with her, even before she had shifted actually :) And so I went in to stay with her family for that one semester and ended up staying there for the whole course...4 years! 'visiting' my family only on weekends...:)

The things I was looking forward to when I shifted was having a good time with friends & of course the convenience in commuting. I did not know that I would be getting an extended family there. I was comfortable & felt at home instantly. This was the first time I was staying away from home, but it never felt as if I was in a different place, staying with N & her family seemed completely natural. Although everyone made me feel like a part of them, the one person I became very close to, of course apart from N, was her mother. Everyone called her Manni, meaning Mami in Tamil. So I did too.

She is ever smiling & jovial in nature. I have never seen her upset except when she is concerned about the health of any one at home. She was almost like a friend to us (N, her elder sis, her younger sis & me) We shared jokes, college tidbits, funny incidents and almost everything with her. Having stayed in Bombay all her life, she speaks very fluent Marathi, so good that people will find it hard to believe that she is actually a Tamilian.

Whatever little Tamil I know today is because of my stay with N plus I got introduced to the Tamil cuisine here. I did have some exposure earlier also through another of my best friend S, but had never experienced it so closely. I got to learn a lot of things from Manni - Kolumbu, kootu, Gojju, Puliogre, Paal Payasam, Mysore paak etc and of course the Sambhar. The day I
learned the sambhar powder from Manni, I went back home & made it and my Mom was really impressed :). Till date I am using the same recipe for the Sambhar powder & my sambhar is always a hit with everyone. I will be posting it soon on this blog.

But the most important thing I learnt from her was to knead the Chapati dough :) I had tried a number of times back at my place but could never get it right. My mom tried her best to get me to do it properly but all in vain. I actually had to get a dough maker at home so that I could make chapatis whenever my mom was out of town. Funnily the same week that we brought the dough maker home, Manni taught me her method and I caught it instantly. I don't know what she did right or what I was doing wrong until that day, but I could finally make pliable dough & consequently soft chapatis! The dough maker has been lying at my place unused...

Amongst the memories that I cherish, is how we used to sit & have the filter coffee made by her. It is the best coffee I have ever tasted in my life and I love it! She knew that I liked coffee very much, so whenever she made a fresh decoction, she always asked me if I wanted some & I never said No..:) We would call it 'Pehli dhaar ki coffee' ...:) The last time I met her was just a day after I had delivered little S and guess what she had brought for me? A Thermos flask full of Filter coffee! I was so touched that she remembered and cared so much.

The recipe that I am going to share now is for Mysore Paak, which is again a Manni speciality!

Makes about12-15 medium sized pieces
  • 1 cup Besan
  • 1 cup Toop/Ghee/Tuppa/Clarified butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 tblsp Milk

In a pan, melt the sugar in a little milk on low flame. Add the besan and cook while continuously stirring for about 5 min. Take care that no lumps remain. Add the ghee and mix properly. All the ghee will get absorbed by the besan.

Cook while stirring continuously until the mix thickens & reaches a pinkish colour and perforations start appearing. Also at this point the mix would become very viscous and it will actually be a struggle to stir :)

Grease a plate and pour in the mixture and cut into blocks before the mixture gets hard. Allow to completely cool. This recipe yields Mysore Paak which is slightly soft to bite and not like the store brought ones.

This is my entry for JFI, an event started by Indira of Mahanandi and being hosted this month by Jigyasa & Pratibha at Pritya. They have chosen Jihva for Love as the theme.

Its only fitting that I write this now & make this sweet delicacy because its Manni's Birthday on 4th May. This is a very special day for me as another of my best friend's Birthday also lies on the same day. This ones for Manni & Swaps! Happy Birthday to both of you in advance!


  1. Hi Bhagyashri, well written, I am sure Manni will be very proud reading this... Happy birthday to her in advance... :)

    oh, and a belated welcome to the blogging world, you have a nice place here...

  2. looks mouthwatering bagyashri

  3. Sig: Thanks! I will pass on your wishes to Manni when I speak to her..
    Sagari: Thanks!

  4. Mysore pak is one of the most popular sweets in South India. I often make it.

  5. I just made it!!! and its yummyyyy...u know wht i always used to think thts its very difficult to make it....but today wen i tried ur recipe was very easy n tastes delicious....thxs a lot for sharin this recipe bhagyashree :)

  6. Bhagyashri, that was a very nice read. I could see you, N and Manni and the other enjoying filter coffee
    Lovely entry

    sandeepa(Bong Mom's CookBook)

  7. Very well written...straight from the heart.
    Do post the sambar powder recipe.

  8. Kumudha: Thanks for stopping by.
    Archana: You are most welcome dear and glad that you liked it.
    Sandeepa: Thanks a lot!
    TC: Thanks! I am only waiting for the current supply to get over which wont be long :)then I will make the Sambhar powder & post it!


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