Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wishes, horses and green fields
That is our coconut tree and that is our crop. Our biggest haul ever.
All through our childhood, Shweta and I have bewailed the fact that we don’t have rural roots. A village to visit in the holidays, fields to roam, farmer-grandparents to indulge us with freshly plucked tubs of mango. Sadly our ancestors seem to have been a citified lot – what farmlands they used to hold was sold many generations ago, and our own grandfather wasn’t in the business of growing rice but rather manufacturing airplanes.
Still, we grew up with neighbours who had these roots. Anjana aunty’s belonged to Coastal Andhra, the prosperous paddy-growing tracts of the state. Sacks of rice and other produce would arrive regularly, as well as huge jars of homemade pickle, that thing they make with pressed mango, and my absolute favourite: regipalla vadiyalu. This is a delicious utterly lip-smacking thingamajig they made with ber (the small reddish variety), red chillies, jeera, jaggery and salt, put through god-knows-what process. The result however was this dried blob that would keep for months and gave off a variety of tangy-hot-sweet tastes as you bit into it. The regipalla seeds would still be there, nearly whole and you’d have to suck them carefully, scraping the pulp off with your teeth and spitting them into an ever-growing pile. I lived for these and Aunty never failed to put aside a generous portion for me every time a consignment arrived. None of the Swagruhas seem to make them, alas.
It felt good this week to gather our own coconuts, from our own tree. In this day when supermarkets will sell you ready-to-eat meals, chopped assorted veggies, and sprouted-for-three-days lentils, to have them fresh off our solitary tree, to pretend they were all from our own polaalu.