I recall the snacks prepared at home.
Mother supervising the team
she knew the exact proportion
the measures of rice flour
to the spoons of garam masala
the relevant salt
a little asoftedia
finally a smear of pepper.
The experienced cooks mixed the ingredients
wth the required amount of water,
prepared a dough neither thick nor watery.
Allowed it to settle. They filled the flour into the moulds.
The frying pan sits on the stove
Firewoods from neem and tamarind trees
were inserted. The fire was lit and kept low.
Oil was poured to three-fourths of the pan. Once the oil reached the right temperature
the cooks start to press the moulds. The flour falls in concentric circles.
Mother insisted on perfect ones, tolerated not the unfinished circles.
The murukkus were fried. When they turned golden
the cooks took them out and place them on stainers.
The oil dripped. There was no splatter of oil anywhere.
Mother broke a piece. Noisily she munches.
Satisfied she arranged them in big tins.
They reach the verandah ready to be shipped.
Six tins get into the car. Off they go to each of her children’s houses.
She turned back. Saw father on the aisle.
Lo ! she had forgotten about him. Had kept not a single piece.
She had to prepare once again. Knowing her, she would set her team to work at once. Just an hour’s work,
One small tin for father and another big one for her cooks and helpers.
All said and done, Mother managed
without dipping her hands in anything.
She had never entered her kitchen in life.
Everything she did sitting on her favourite chair in the parlour.