Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The First Pithla War....

Someone asked about Ravan Pithla, and my friend Anjali Koli wrote a blogpost describing the Ravan-like qualities of the Pithla in question :  a angry red besan roasting, matching amount red chilly powder, and the works, all designed to get your tears to flow. So typical of the ten headed demon Ravan , the villain of  Ramayana.

As someone who has always supported the underdog, this is a shoutout for the amazing Kulthaacha Pithla, or Pithla made of roasted Horsegram flour, something so native to Kokan , Maharashtra's coastal area.

(It is known that before setting out on campaigns from his forts, with his armies, Shivaji Maharaj, along with his faithfuls, would always imbibe  big  bowlfuls  of  a  gruel made from cooking horsegrams in water, and this was considered great for stamina since it was excellent protein.... )

I mean the Ravan Pithla might sound powerful, but is not a patch on the magic of Kuleeth.

Clearly, even Oryza Sativa***  thinks so ....

घासून सोनेरी पितळेचं ताट ,
त्यात वाफाळलेली भातबाई ,
आपल्याच आसपासच्या धूसर धुंद वातावरणात
तिला लागलेली पिठल्यानची चाहूल .

कधी देशावरचे गोरे बेसन
भ्हार्दस्त्पणे तेलात मग्न ,
कधीतरी रागाने रंग बदलणे,
कम्युनिस्ट मिर्च्यांशी युती करणे ,
आणि कढीपत्ताबाईनकडे दुर्लक्ष करून,
आतुरतेने ताकाची नाहीतर पाण्याची वाट बघणे.
कधी जिरे खोबरे लोकांनी केलेली मदत,
कधी कोथिम्बिरीचे समजावणे,
आणि मग तव्यावर सोन्यासारखे रुसून बसणे

पण मग कधीतरी
कोकणचे काटक कुळीथ ,
परिस्थितीने भाजून निघालेले,
आणि कुणा एका सुनेने
पहाटे पहाटे जात्यावर
ओविबध्ध दळलेले,
पुढच्या दारी आलेला खमंग वास ,
मग कांदा लसूण मिरच्यांन बरोबर
एका लोखंडी कढईतल्या
गरम तेलात पाण्याला बरोबर घेउन उकळून पदार्पण;
आणि मग घरच्या अम्सुलाने
गडबडीने घेतलेली ग्रेट भेट ,

गरम सुस्कारा टाकत
आसुसलेली भातबाई,
बाजूला बसलेल्या मिठाला खुणावते ,
पोह्याच्या भाजलेल्या खमंग पापडाकडे
डोळे लाउन बसते ,
म्हणते ,
"राम काय, रावण काय,
मला तर बाई कुळीथाशिवाय काही सुचतच नाही हो !"
 She sits,
Oryza Sativa*** ,
wrapped in a
hot mist
of her own making,
on a scrubbed golden brass plate,
anticipating the Pithla Arrivals.

a fair Besan man,
gambolling in hot oil,
perhaps dark in anger ,
sometimes secretive
with cracking comments
with communist chillies
at the cost
of the demure kadhipattas;
then a severe thirst
for water or buttermilk,
with some cumin and coconut
brokering a peace,
and a final stubborn
place pouting
and protesting on the griddle.

And then sometimes
the dark and handsome Kuleeth,
Horsegram to you,
hardy as they come in Kokan,
emerging hot
from a tough roasting,
crushed fine , milled, 

and simply infatuated by the songs
of the  lady-of-the-house  at dawn,
as she grinds them, 

amidst the fragrance
streaming out of the front door.

A great meet up
with spicy  Onion and Garlic ,
willing cooperation with the
red chillies
and a complete dissolving
in joy
in the water,
as the situation
comes to  a boil

in cast iron,
amidst pieces of kokum
giving the finishing touch.

Oryza Sativa,
takes a deep steaming breath,
raises her eyebrows
at the salt sitting
to the side,
pines for the roasted Poha Papad,
still on its way,
and says,
"Whether it is Ram, or Ravan Pithla,
power doesn't attract me;
For me, the choice is always the Kuleeth !..."

***Oryza Sativa :  Fancy cradle name for Rice :-)

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