This post is a tribute to the almost nonagenarian, my 89 year old grandmother-aachi, whose kitchen I peeped into as a kid. It has been a beautiful journey of love, love and love alone – millions of life’s lessons learnt from thousands of chatting sessions. The soft yet strong hands have produced en-numerous delicacies with tonnes of affection. I see those soft hands that have turned wrinkled and bony… and realize life’s harsh truths. The truth of aging, might not be as bad as I sound.. as we learn the art of aging graciously. But seeing our elders age is certainly one among the severest truths.
When I hold those hands now, I feel the same warmth among those pressing bones that protrude. How many nei urundais (lentils sweet) and pathirpeni (sugary crisps) and murukkus (savoury crisps) have these hands made and served, the taste still lingering in our minds…
When I see the glittering child like smile amidst those few clinging teeth and skinny cheeks, I long for the same energetic glee that has welcomed us home from school…
When I now listen to the never ending stories through the tired voice, I hope to hear the tamil songs sung to me and the gossips of the household with the same youthful tone…
When I look into those wrinkled sleepy eyes, I think of those youthful eyes that admired my every move…
But.. the joy of having aachis/grandmothers to tell you stories and admire your children is certainly a boon.
at work – great grandmother and great grand daughter
When I see my little daughter enjoy the company of Pooti Aachi/Great Grandmother and play several games, I am astonished by the connect of an almost ninety year old with a nine year old and also the other way round! The passion to connect can well be understood by today’s generation of social networks. This is a great connect, that needs no wi-fi. This is the generational link that passes through four generations of interdependent relationships. Quite amazing..truly no words to express.
This is yet another trademark Aachi’s recipe. This storable Onion Chutney is simply the best of chutneys and a great preserve. It can be stored for weeks without a refrigerator. But.. brush your teeth before meeting people.. these are onions and garlic.
The name normally associated with the thuvayal/chutney is vengaya thuvayal or onion chutney. But when it became my daughter’s most favorite chutney, she renamed it as ‘Pooti Aachi Vengaya Thuvayal’ – what else could suit the best of dishes – with the four generational connect. So each time we go home, this is packed on demand…
Due to old age, pooti aachi/great grand ma doesn’t make it anymore. It is made by her daugther-in-law – Amma who has been making this for decades now. But, aachi insists to stand behind to guide, so that nothing is missed. Such emphasis on perfection… certain traits of old age one can’t avoid, I suppose. Though Amma makes the same Great Grandmother’s Onion Chutney to perfection, but she needs to wait a few more decades to earn that name- ‘Pooti Aachi’ and the chutney to be named after her.
So, this post is completely in admiration of that Grand Lady of True Affection, whom I always long would stay with me forever.
Pooti Aachi Vengaya Thuvayal
The chutney is a very simple one, that involves patience and care… the same qualities that I respect my Aachi for.
- chinna vengayam/shallots – 4 cups (appr. 600 gms peeled)
- poondu/garlic – 1 cup – (appr. 150 gms peeled)
- milagai vatral/red chillies – 10 no.s
- nallennai/gingelly oil – 1/2 cup
- kadugu/mustard seeds – 2 tsp
- kariveppilai/curry leaves – 3 tbsp
- salt – to taste
- juice of 2 small lemons
Method of Preparation
1. Wash and peel shallots and garlic and cut into random pieces
2. Fry red chillies in droplets of oil, this helps the seeds to grind well with onion and garlic
3. First dry grind the roasted red chillies and then grind the shallots and garlic with chillies into a smooth paste
4. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1/4 cup oil
5. Drop the mustard seeds and once they splutter, simmer stove and add curry leaves
6. Fry for a few seconds and pour the blended paste
7. Increase the flame and bring it to boil
8. Then, simmer again and let this mixture cook well – it would take at least 20 minutes to reach a thicker consistency.
9. Do not add salt till this stage. As the mixture thickens, we will need lesser salt
10. Add salt and tell it thicken more… say another 5 minutes
11. When the colour of the chutney reaches brown colour .. remember it was off-white in the beginning, add juice of 1 big lemon or 2 small lemons
12. Once the lemon juice is incorporated, we can notice the colour change in the thuvayal from brown to black.
13. Do not overcook after adding lemon juice…as it will make the chutney bitter
14. After addition of lemon juice, the time needed would be approximately 3 minutes for the chutney to be ready
15. Enjoy with all kinds of Idlies and Dosais or even breads and rotis…why not!!