Potatoes, Pickles & Grandma-Fairy dust

On some days, the moment I enter the gate of our apartments the aroma of food wafts in. Especially if it is lunch time. I can easily spot the Aroma from our kitchen because, well, I have known it for 27 years! My, until-then-quiet-&-happy stomach would start grumbling and the tap of my salivary gland would pop open.

My pace increases and I’ll ring the bell. When she opens the door, I’ll ask with excitement;

“What is on the stove? Is that Kaarakuttan?”

She’ll give a smile torn between astonishment, mischief & pride.

“Your nose is an evil thing!”

“It isn’t my nose! It is your gifted hands! I could get the smell from the gates!”

“Shut up! That must be from some other place.” she would pretend to not be affected by my compliments. 😛

I’d go straight to the kitchen, open the lid and inhale all the steam from the dish and Ammamma would smile, “Stop dipping your nose into the dish! Even your cousins have this habit.”

I’ll smile sheepishly and show my stomach the way to bliss 😀


We always say,

“Ammamma should go for all these cookery shows & competitions and she’ll be first everywhere.”

On second thoughts, I’d say,

“No! I don’t want anyone judging her! No one has the right to. No one is good enough to judge her! She is the best and there is no need to prove it. I do not like anyone telling her the food she makes has flaws because the flaw is in their taste buds. Ammamma’s cooking is just perfect!”


Ammamma’s Potato Curry


And that brings me to her Potato curry which is my all time favorite and tops my list. There are distant relatives who reminisce her potato curry and keep telling how yummy it was when they had it years back. She also makes this tangy Vendakka Pachhadi and Mulakoottal. I am a sucker for her Kaarakoottan; again so tangy and spicy that I finish almost half the quantity made for the entire family. Oh! And the avial! She makes cheera avial and the traditional Kerala Avial which I eat for lunch, snacks and dinner. Ya! She makes it in a pressure cooker up to the brim! She has spoilt our taste buds by cooking such yummy food that I just CANNOT have Vegan food from outside. There are always something so many things amiss when the Vegan food is made by someone else. And hence I restrict myself to Paneer in Vegan restaurants. Always a safe bet.


Sometimes, I’ll be sitting with her and she’ll start narrating how certain dishes were made during ‘those days’. As she hops from one dish to another, she’ll describe the preparation of Lemon pickles. Listening to her description, my salivary glands salivate like broken taps!

“They soak these lemons in hot water so that the juice within loosens. They then dry all of them using a towel and make a cut through the centre in such a way that the pieces don’t fully detach. They grind Asafoetida, Fenugreek and dry red chillies; add salt and turmeric powder to the mixture. This mixture is then stuffed well inside these half cut lemons.”

“They then arrange these lemons inside huge Bharani (Ceramic jars used to store pickle). They arrange them tightly together. Now, they heat Gingelly oil and wait for it too cool down a bit. This is poured into the jar in such a way that the oil fully soaks the lemons. They seal the mouth of the jar using wax and leave it in the Garret for 10-15 days. Once in a while, someone would go up and stir the pickle.”

As I sit there imagining tantalising Lemons emerging from orangish-red pickle mixture dripping with oil, my tongue drowning in my saliva, she concludes;

“One tiny piece of this pickle would suffice for a meal!”

Pickle in a Bharani. Image Courtesy: Framed Recipes

When the coffee we make do not come in par with hers, we’d say,

“Ammamma please tell us the last ingredient you use. You definitely do something else that you don’t tell us.”

“I don’t. This is all I do.”

And then, my sister & I discuss.

“Well, then we know what it is. It is her Kaipunyam (Similar to Gifted hands). It is as though there is this taste enhancer oozing from her palm.”

“I know! Maybe she just dips her finger inside the coffee, the taste enhancer enhances it.  That must be it! There is no other explanation!”

Yeah! There is no other explanation! 😀

You can read the stories about Ammamma under the Category ‘Grandma Tales’ which you’ll find on the right side of this page. (Scroll down! Scroll down!😀 ) If you don’t find it, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you love my ‘Grandma Tales’, again please leave a comment and I’ll be grinning ear to ear and replying!🙂

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18 thoughts on “Potatoes, Pickles & Grandma-Fairy dust

  1. Drooling looking at that Pickle. I love Potato curry and yes there is something very special and irreplaceable about Mom/Grandma curry and Pickles. Nobody has a right to criticize for sure. My Grandma makes the best Halwa ever and even my mom & masi can’t make match her.


  2. I am loving your grandma takes and the way you recall the time spent with her. So much love and warmth. I haven’t spent much time with grandparents but with my mom’s awesome sisters. I can totally understand when you say they have gifted hands. Even if I try to cook their recipe to the dot, it’s far far from the magic they create. Really enjoyed reading this post. Ummm one question though, Paneer is not vegan right… I am a non veg so what do I know 🙂


  3. Lovely write-up! Pictures made me hungry! Haven’t had opportunity to spend time with grandparents, but i can connect with you say they have gifted hands.There are few recipes like akki rotti and Chitranna (Karnataka specials) which my mum makes.These dishes no matter how much i follow her recipe I can never make them taste the same way!


  4. Wow drooooling over the food. Food sure makes on nostalgic, about relationships- those precious ones such as moms and grand moms. YOur Ammmamma’s potato curry indeed seems yummy. It reminded me of my child hood days when my grand mom used to cook a similar meal whenever she visited us. How I used to look forward to it.


  5. Oh wow! Hello fellow Malayalee. I am glad we connected. Missing ‘our’ dishes especially with the Onam festival coming in. Love your GrandMa tales. Will definitely come back for more 🙂


  6. Chechi every time read ur grandma tales i miss my ajji… i dont know how a decade passed without her. but I know it was very difficult for me to push along. These bring me back to the memories of the days I spent with that angel.. Thank you so much 🙂


  7. I’m just loving your gradma tales,Ranjini! The way you’re narrating all the wonderful memories of your grandma is just magnificent. Grannies are awesome! Keep writing! 🙂


  8. You took my taste buds tickling while I was transported to another place in another time. My own grandmother’s kitchen and all her delicacies. Her little store room which was our own treasure house with her zillion creations. That picture of the mango pickle is so tantalizing. Will look through the Grandma tales, sure will have many stories I can relate to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grandmothers are a world in themselves right? They are like a home within the home 🙂 Hope you enjoyed reading the post. Thank you so much for finding my blog and leaving your thoughts here.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reading about the yummy food made my mouth water! Lucky you Ranjini that you get to eat such delicious food. I am here staying in a PG eating tasteless food 😦
    I loved the way you have described her cooking 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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