Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day - a story of my 2 moms and a fusion recipe from 3 kitchens

I wrote some personal notes last Mother's day on my blog, didn't think Mother's day would come around so quickly or things change so much in the short span of a year. I am sure many of you have very similar stories to share about your mothers, I would love to hear from you. I seem to get all sentimental when I think about my mom and I value this blessing more and more as I grow older in life. When I came back from that trip to India in February, I was barely functional. It is difficult to be normal when you are hurting. I am glad I am able to take control and immerse myself in things I enjoy most and keep moving. I promise I have a recipe here and a very tasty one too, if you don't believe me see for yourself :-)
I have no memories of her sitting with me to do something as mundane as daily homework from school, but she was always around either prepping vegetables for the next day or finishing up the night's dinner, and knew exactly how we were doing. I do not remember her asking any of us what we wanted for the next day's bf, lunch or dinner but somehow dishes would magically appear day after day as if she had an uncanny knack to read our minds and know exactly what we wanted. She made sure I learnt the basics of Carnatic music even though I had to change multiple teachers for various reasons, she dragged me to innumerable singing competitions though she knew my stage fear at that age, I understand she did that for the love of art and because she believed that I had some potential. Though I didn't turn out to be a professional singer, I remain always an ardent lover of good music and sing when it pleases me. She introduced me to Kannada literature long before my father took me to the enchanting world of Rotary and British libraries and opened up the World literature for me to gobble up, creating a book lover for life in me. She never told any of us to sit and pray but created the atmosphere at home by setting up a puja altar and naturally guiding us in that direction, I am glad I have a belief that helps me stay grounded and take on life. She is a story teller and her stories are always multi dimensional and layered with emotions - it was a way for us to remember things and also be able to communicate with others. I try to tell my stories though not always successfully. She just showed me the way by living it and I am proud I am capable of making good choices. Although I grew up a daddy's girl and would run to him every single day after school (and college) to recount the happenings of the day, she sat there in the same room listening to everything I had to blabber on.

For someone who had a college degree uncommon in her times for girls, nammamma settled into domestic life completely and made her family and kids a priority. Her family not only included inlaws but also siblings and cousins of all ages and stages of life. Being a teacher, my father was always on the crusade of spreading the love of learning at home and outside. Though he never coached any of his own kids, there were always cousins and relatives that stayed at home preparing for various exams under his guidance. She stood as his support through thick and thin in life and they smiled together and shed some tears too. I have seen marked changes in my mom since my father passed on a few years ago as if a part of her was gone but she has bravely tried to fill in with both roles for us. The first time she visited us here after he passed away, she teared up standing infront of the roaring Half moon bay beach and remembering my water loving father, and then turned towards us with a beaming smile and said "what are we going to see next"? for her he is everywhere, always. She has a wonderful sense of humor and I think that is what keeps her smiling through life. Even now, in her home away from home, the first thing she tells me every time I call is not to worry about her and that she is doing well and we should take care of ourselves. Wish there was something more I could do for her not just today but everyday. I love you amma.

For someone who finished her formal education with high school, my mother in law is extremely well read and well traveled.  She became a bride at 15, a mother at 16 and is the pillar of strength in the family. She has created her own identity very well supported by her life partner. She looks at the world with a child like curiosity, learning every day as she is exposed to new people, culture, experiences. She took to computers and internet as easily as any of us with formal training, manages her emails, stays in constant touch with family and maintains her own blog with a collection of her literary creations in Telugu. For me, she is a person with very high emotional maturity and resilience. Never one to raise her voice, it is amazing the amount of respect she commands. She taught me the ways of my new family gently along with a new language so I never feel like an outsider. She has been part of my support system in the last few months sitting with me in the hospital as I tended to Nammamma. Thank you for being there amma and I love you.

For two women that are contrasting in many ways, I find their strength of character and unending love to be an overwhelmingly common thread. Here is wishing my two beautiful moms all happiness on this Mother's day, aren't they both gorgeous?
Both these moms sat outside the labor room supporting me through my own journey of becoming a mom waiting to see their grandchild and wishing that their daughter didn't have to go through so much pain but then forgot all about me when the baby girl came out wailing :-).

Over to the recipe, I have a very easy, instant pickle I learnt from amma. This is how nammamma makes mango pickle at home but without jaggery, I had never heard of bellam avakkai (jaggery in pickle) before I got married and thought it was amma's creation since she loves bellam (jaggery) but then realized that it is a very popular avakkai recipe in Andhra. Although the traditional bellam avakkai is made with a jaggery syrup, here is a quick version of the same great tasting pickle for all you pickle lovers out there. It is spicy hot, tangy, a little sweet, a little salty - just like my 2 moms and their lives. The pickle is simple to make, is ready to eat at the end of the process and tastes delicious.
And here is the twist as the pickle came out of Sattvaa kitchen, I made the bellam avakkai by not using the mangoes :-), well I made them with tart green apples. Ever since I used green apples in gojju to the delight of my family, I have been trying to use them in other recipes. Green apples stand a little bit of cooking without getting mushy but work very well in recipes that uses them in raw form. I have grated and put them into chutneys instead of using tamarind or lemon juice and they taste great.So here is a converted bellam avakkai recipe from amma made with green apples.

What do you need to make Bellam apple avakkai?
1 green apple
1 Tsp lemon juice
1/2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
3/4 Tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp crushed jaggery
1 Tblsp oil
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
1 Tsp mustard
1/4 Tsp fenugreek seeds
How do you make Bellam apple avakkai?
  • Wash and wipe dry the green apples. Choose firm ones without any blemishes on the skin. 
  • Cut into quarters and remove the seeds and core. 
  • Slice the apples into small pieces. 
  • Add the lemon juice and mix it well. This step prevents apples from de-coloring due to oxidization.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and give it a good mix. 
  • Heat oil in a pan, add mustard, give a head start of 10 seconds, add fenugreek seeds and let them splutter. Add asafoetida, switch off and pour it onto the mixed pickle. 
  • Let it sit for 15 minutes for the flavors to develop along with a little bit of juice, enjoy. 
  • Like all pickles, be careful to keep all knife, cutting board or the spoons and containers used completely dry.
  • This pickle does not have a long shelf life, you can use it upto a week if you refrigerate. 
  • Follow the same process for making the avakkai with green mangoes, use firm, tender ones. 
  • I used 1/2 Tblsp of mustard oil and 1/2 Tblsp of sesame oil to give a good flavor. You can do this or use only one of them or use canola or sun flower oil. 
  • I use a Tsp lemon juice to bring about the apple's tartness and also help create some juices. 
  • I get green granny Smith apples for this pickle, do not use if the apple is soft or sweet to taste. 
HAPPY MOTHER's DAY to all mothers out there. Cherish and celebrate.


laksh said...

Beautiful pictures :-)

Anonymous said...

Happy mother's day to you.

Anonymous said...

Nice article on Mother's day. For the first time something was better than the recipe.
I wish you a happy mother's day for your efforts to preserve the traditional Mysore style recipes for the next generation..

--- Srinath

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

That was a wonderful read Nagashree....beautifully penned...

Nice pickle...Like the fact that you've used green apples

NamsVeni Pothas said...

happy mothers day to all Sattvaa readers. wow. the two great mothers of yours are very lucky having a wonderful daughter like you dear. we love you. enjoy the mothers day every day and every moment . God bless you your BH and your DD

Wer SAHM said...

Happy Mother's day ....

Jay said...

very interesting post
Tasty Appetite

Meena Selvakumaran said...

wow,it was one such a post,i admire both the women in u r life.enjoyed reading it.thanks for the apple tips ,very helpful.

LG said...

It is such a beautiful post Nagashree. Alisi bitri nanna beligge beligge sob sob.. but I enjoyed reading it. Apple uppinakayi looks yummo!

Anonymous said...

Your heartfelt commentary on your mother and mother-in-law is very touching. I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work!

Akila said...

Both moms looks gorgeous even in black n white... Yummy pickle...

Nagashree said...

Thanks all for stopping by and sharing my celebration of Mother's day. Your comments mean a lot to me.

Swarna said...

I have tried some of your recipes, needless to say they turned to be wonderful.
Very nice piece on your moms.
Thanks for putting up such a nice blog.
Keep writing.

Nagashree said...

Swarna - Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you liked the recipes. Keep visiting.