Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ballad of the Kanda Kairi

A summer relish made out of raw mango and onion. Returning from morning school on hot afternoons in the plains, to enjoy this amazing preparation, its recipe and sense of lipsmacking wonder indicated so well by my friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne , in her post ,"The Summer of our Content".

The recipe I follow has the same ingredients, but is not as homogeneous in appearance, since one uses grated raw mango(kairi) and slivers of onions, often ornamented by stiffly hot kadhipatta leaves and halfburnt fenugreek seeds.

Nevertheless, this remains a star side preparation, to be had at lunch, a ceiling fan groaning overhead, followed by cool spiced buttermilk, a glass of matka water , and a lingering taste in the mouth, that transforms into dreams on a somnolent summer afternoon...

Just a peek into the tumultuous life of the Kairi....... original in Marathi, an afterthought in English...

 (photo by Shruti Nargundkar)
लहानपणापासून तिला वाटे
आपण नाटक सिनेमात काम कराव ......
तिच्या जन्माच्या वेळी, आम्राईभर आलेला
सुगंधीत मोहोर,
तिचे डोळेभरून झालेले बालपणीचे कौतुक,
थोड्या पिवळसर लालसर छटा दिसायच्या आत  ,
सात च्या आत घरात चा नियम .
आणि मग एकदिवस
बाजारात पळून जाणे,
एका आजीबाईनी  आश्रय देणे,
आणि शाळेत जाणार्या काही मुलींनी तिच्याकडे
अधाशीपणाने बघणे. 
एवढे  सर्व तर सनेमा सारखेच ....

पण आजकाल एका सिनेमात अनेक नटनट्या  असतात .

रणरणत्या माळरानावरच्या  कडक उन्हात
अचानक अवतीर्ण झालेले कांदा सिंग ,
त्यांचे नाच्या पाठीराखे
तापलेले, घासून पुसून  स्वच्छ  भुईमुगराव दाणे,
घाबरत मागे आलेल्या  जीराबाई ,
आणि   कैरी च्या पाठीमागे भक्कम पणे उभ राहून
"भिउ नकोस, तुला सावरायला मी आहे न .."
असं म्हणून सगळ्यात पडणारे मोठे गूळभौजी....

शेवटचा सीन ,
सगळे एकत्र फिरतात,
एकमेकात इतके गुंततात ,
स्वतहाला विसरतात.
गुंडांनी गरम तेलात मोहर्या उडवल्या , त्याच्यावर टाकल्या
तरी फक्त एक मंद चर्रर्र ......

आणि मग
भाकरीबुआ पापुद्रे येतात,
गवारीबाई, हिरव्या शालूत  ओव्याचे अत्तर शिंपडून
हझर  होतात,
दही आणि  भात एकत्रच यीऊन पोचतात ,
पोक्त वरण राव
मन घट्ट  करून बसलेल्या लोण्याकडे बघून
म्हणतात ,
"काय हो, लोक म्हणतात
कांदा सिंग आणि कैरीबाई
यांच्यात काहीतरी  चालू आहे....
खरं कि काय ?...."

She always wanted
to be
in Films....

Her birth celebrations
amidst fragrant
mango blossoms,
an indulgent protected childhood,
and strict timings and rules of life
as she came of age....

And one day, she took off
into the market,
only to be rescued
by a old vegetable seller grandma.

Watched greedily
by school kids,
as she transferred
from basket to house.

Almost like a movie, this.

But this is a age of multistarrers....

And so Hero Kanda Singh
suddenly appeared on the burning plains,
by his Monkeynut sidekick;
an apprehensive Jeerabai,
worriedly following behind,
and Lord Jaggery,
sensing Kairi's  discomfiture
and saying,
"Fear not, and proceed;
remember, I am there to support you !"

The last Climax scene.

A massive mingling
and becoming one
of all the characters,
so much, that
there is barely a squeak,
and just a hiss,
as some
hot oil with crackling mustard
is poured over them all....

Which brings on the watchers,
Bhakribua "layer" Papudre,
Lady Cluster bean,
with Ajwain perfume
on  green silk,
the Curd-Rice folks hand in hand.

The thick and portly
Dal representative,
looks at the White Butter Man,
sitting desolately,
trying not to dissolve,
and clearing
his Hinged salty  throat
asks ,
" Tell me,
everyone says,
there is something
going on
Kanda Singh and Kairibai....
Is it true ??


  1. Hinged salty throat! I think I have discovered a genie in you, who not only appreciates the recipes and posts, but adds layers and layers of meaning and texture! :)

    1. Shruti, Your description in your post and the photograph was so real, I could just about taste this ....

  2. The interplay of words has made the kairi and the kanda and all the food come alive. Really. Fantastic writing.

    1. Richa, Thank you ! This is actually some last minute stuff I make in a different version, where I shred the kairi. And dont mix everything in a blender. Greatly popular at home....:-))

  3. I could actually taste the delicate flavours and smacked my lips only to find nothing there :(

    1. Zephyr, Thats what happened when I read Shruti's blogpost. :-(