Monday 17 October 2011

Another cook, another time

Food can bring back the dead. I've been debating using that word. Dead.

Is 'passed away' better? Whenever I want to tell my daughter stories about people who are 'no longer with us', I'm always stuck at the point where she asks me, so where are they now, Ma? A 'star in the sky' is not really an option, is it? I did use that once, I must admit. But neither us were really convinced. So now, it's 'dead'. To her it just means people that we can talk about, think about, but can't see, nor have chocolate cake with. Now, the conversation goes like this:

Where is she, Ma?
Oh ok.

We're good with that. For now.

She also knows that Bubulma is one of those people that we can only talk about. Bubulma is what she calls D's mother. Someone she will never know, but whom she could have a sense of knowing, through the stories we tell her. Through the photographs we show her. And through food.

When I said 'food can bring back the dead', I wasn't referring to lunch with Psychic Sally. I was talking about food that brings back memories of people you loved and miss. When I cook something that my grandmother used to cook when I was little, or use a recipe that my mother-in-law had perfected, I bring them back a little. I get a sense of the flavours they loved, the spices they had in their kitchen, and the crops that grew around them. And so I carry them forward, and pass them on. And my daughter gets a sense of someone long gone. The stirring of an old spoon.

Bubulma's Pea Tikki

This was one of our favourites from Bubulma's kitchen repertoire. She would make it every winter with freshly shelled peas. I made it recently for Chotto-ma's birthday party, and it was one of the most popular things on the table.


6/7 potatoes, boiled and peeled
5 cups peas
2-inch ginger, sliced
1 green chilli
1 tsp aniseed
1 tsp cumin seed, roasted
A small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped 
4 tbs oil
Flour for dusting

Mash the boiled potatoes with salt and chopped coriander, and keep aside.
In a blender or mixer, put the peas, ginger, green chilli, aniseed and cumin seeds, and blitz till smooth.
In a flat pan, heat 1 tbs of oil, and add the pea paste. On fairly high heat, stir constantly till it becomes drier and tighter, almost like soft dough. Let it cool.
Once cooled, roll the paste between your palms to form several small, round green balls.
Cover each green ball with mashed potato, and flatten them into round discs or tikkis.
Dust the discs with a bit of plain flour, pat and keep aside.
Heat the rest of the oil in a flat, non-stick pan, and pan-fry the tikkis till they are golden brown on both sides.
Serve hot.

Serves 4/5


  1. It's amazing memories are built of food!
    Beautifully written...
    I am going to make these soon! love the look of it :)

  2. Oh. That's crazy-great. I can't wait to make these.

  3. YOU made peas EDIBLE!! I want to say this is a great post... I don't have many people in the family who makes warm oatmeal in the morning, or a pancake every friday... But i do know what you mean... When i smell a certain ointment or look at the seat they always occupy... I would love to try this out.. :)

  4. Such beautiful writing. Sigh!
    The food even more so.

  5. Such beautiful writing, I'm in awe. Seriously, Pia! It's so true about ppl who have left us... I know very well 'cos I lost my younger bro in a hit and run 5 yrs back. But he's always with me, in my memories. And I'm a memory keeper.

  6. thanks chinmayie. yes, it's nice to cook from memory, especially when you live far from home :)

    thanks yate! hope you enjoy it :)

    let me know if you like them, jesica :) ointments do bring back memories, don't they? more than 'taste', i think it's 'smell' that makes me remember.

    you make me smile, anita :)

  7. ah nashira, i'm so very sorry to hear about your brother. i have a younger brother too, so your words just broke my heart. a big hug to you. and thank you, for sharing this.

  8. You have expressed it so beautifully! I make a lot of tikki but never tried with pea .. it looks perfect for evening snack bite.

  9. This sounds gorgeous & the photos are amazing. How can someone make peas look so exquisite?! :D

    Nic x

  10. thanks kankana :) evening snacks are so much more fun when someone else makes them for you :) sometimes, D and I enter our empty house, calling out 'ramu, pakora lao!'

    could there be a lovlier compliment than 'exquisite'?! thanks nic :)

  11. These look really lovely, I imagine they taste wonderful. :)

  12. i must admit they do, john :) try them sometime!

  13. Yum, yum, yummm! That looks divine!! I just need to get a couple more ingredients & I'm set!

  14. let me know if you like it, carmen :)

  15. I made this yesterday for my first anniversary. So lovely! My husband, a huge lover of potatoes AND peas, was in heaven. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. oh, i'm so glad - something from my blog was part of your first anniversary! thanks missi, that just made my day :)

  16. yummy recipy i'll definately try it as I am a crazy potato and peas lover :)

    1. Thanks Samiya, I hope you enjoy it when you do :)


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