I met him today at the Kerala House. Where he serves up Malayali food.
I landed up there with all my colleagues – 12 very hungry beings – ready to pounce on whatever came our way (The usual gag at work is that everyone fasts from the night before when one has a birthday treat coming up the next day. The way we eat would convince you of it).
This was my treat for my day which happened to be on November 9.
We got in as guests of a Member of Parliament and thereafter behaved not unlike a bunch of famine-struck baboons. I mean the younger lot.
Because the big dining table was occupied (which was rightfully ours), we settled for whatever came our way – small square tables of four with real heavy wooden chairs.
Soon the food came rolling in. Big, fat brownish rice accompanied by veggie dishes that had my mouth watering. The side dish was piled generously with ‘thoran’ (cabbage with lotsa peas and coconut grinded finely) and ‘thiyal’ (this was my favourite, it had eggplant cooked beautifully with spices and sour tamarind).
There was pale yellow, watery gravy that was poured by one of the servers on the rice. It was called the ‘pulissery’ that came with chunks of green papaya. The yoghurt base was the reason I guess it was inordinately sour. And even though I love sour -- I mean I heart sour --but this was Sour.
Where Mohan comes in, of course, was this. He was bringing us plates heaped with papad. And he had the sweetest, kindly smile that touched me. He brought us a fish curry with tender ‘surmai’ fish pieces cooked in a thick, yellow coconut curry. It is one of the most delicious fish dishes I have ever had (not to miss out on my favourite ‘shorshe ilish’).
So when I get greedy, I get greedy. You cannot cap my greediness in any plausible way. So I wanted more fish. Mohan said, ‘Sorry, no more.’ But in two minutes he arrived with a baby plate containing two pieces of fish, fried to blackness along with onion and tomato rings and plonked it on my plate.
That swept me away.