Sunday, 26 July 2009


get me that bottle from the fridge, amma would say. and i knew which one, the one that was on the top rack right under the freezer, inaccessible in a corner despite the fact that it was used daily. and i'd duly walk back to the kitchen with it, and she would carefully remove the top layer of cream off the curd she'd left to form overnight, and put it into the bottle in my hand. i'd stand there wishing there was a bit more, since seeing the bottle get filled was a pastime for me. id watch the white line of the top of the cream creep up all the way to the lid, day after agonizing day. sometimes i'd be asked to do the chore of transferring the cream, and i'd deliberately put in a little curd as well, just to push it up a few millimetres.

a bottle would get filled, but it wouldnt end there, another would get added. the agonizing process would repeat itself, then another bottle would be added. depending on the size of the bottles available, this would happen three to four times. and every day in the two or three months that it would take to reach this milestone, i'd watch the lines creep up with obvious impatience, look at the filled bottles with a certain satisfaction, and await the future. and finally, the day would come, usually a weekend or a holiday, when i would be asked to bring all the bottles at once.

and i would move at previously unknown speeds to the fridge, try and grab them all at once, and race to the kitchen; there was no time to waste. i knew what was next, the run to the store room to get the wooden thing that i still dont know the name of. followed by the big aluminium pot. when all was in place, amma would start. when we were younger, she would tell us the story of how devas and asuras churned the seas for amrit, or the story of how lord krishna used to steal butter as a kid, as she churned the cream for butter. which would soon start making an appearance as a big lump in centre of the pot, and she would take it out as one big ball and place it aside. i hated the butter, it was a mere obstacle to be crossed before the destination. id wait patiently while lump after lump of butter was placed aside. and look with concern at the bottles, which i would have to help with washing and drying, despite the fact that they served me well in my objective thus far.

now the good part would begin. the lumps were put into a large frying pan, and heated till they melt, while i sat on the stool in the kitchen and watched with equal measures of impatience and fascination. the aroma would soon fill the kichen, then the house, and soon you could catch a whiff from the gate outside. i suppose i did get a bit high on the smell, i wouldnt know. id just sit there till, at last, the golden ghee would be poured out into umpteen smaller bottles. when each of their lids were closed, and when each was safely stored away, i'd reach what i was waiting for. rice would go into the pan, mixed around in the residue with all the heart disease producing black bits, and i'd have the world's best ghee rice for lunch. and the months would seem worth every second.

good things happen to those who wait.. :)


vaidehi said...

In maharashtra, we call the heart-disease inducing black things 'beri' which is gobbled up by the kids. We dump a large flattened thick lump of atta in the ghee vessel to make a ghee dripping paratha of sorts called fal which no adult gets a chance to ever eat. Never tasted ghee rice though.. guess it's common in the south

fulcrum said...

nice.. :) even on the fb post, ppl shared interesting stuff about their ghee making experiences..
ghee rice and mallus go a long way back.. on our train rides back home from nid, we used to get pally with the pantry car guys so we used to get the ghee rice and chicken fry they made for themselves.. :D