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The Cool Combos

The Cool Combos
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April showers come and go; and with them, they take away the last remnants of the winter chill and leave behind hot days and warm evenings, which is...

April showers come and go; and with them, they take away the last remnants of the winter chill and leave behind hot days and warm evenings, which is also probably the official end to the short and sweet unofficial spring season in this part of the world.

Yet, summer, as ominous as it sounds is always welcome for it brings the season of mangoes. As we await the raw ones to arrive for the enthusiasts to conjure up a dazzling variety of pickles that make the goodness last through the year; the anticipation for the luscious ripe ones is what delights the heart the most.

It also heralds all those memories of holidays spent in leisure and merriment. A visit to grandfather’s place during summers would mean that with every big meal would also be served these large PeddaRasalu – the Nuzivid mangoes that always came to the table in pairs – One wouldn’t be enough you see, after all, it is only a month or two that we enjoy these kings among fruits.

Over time, I acquired this uniquely Telugu (Andhra) habit of squeezing the richly sweet and golden juice into curd rice (fresh and thick curd is mandatory for this special preparation) and mixing it well with hand and relishing it with abandonment. This feat was repeated during every meal. And what would happen to the seed (covered with fibre and the last remnants of the juice) towards the end is best left to the imagination. For all those who squirm at the thought of eating curd rice mixed with mango juice, I would say this is our version of flavoured Yoghurt albeit with rice.

Mixing salt with curd rice is a common practice that is being slowly done away with for health reasons. Curd rice is of course eaten with chutneys (pachallu) and pickles (avakaya – mango, lime, gongura, ginger, etc,) or even with left-over curry. Alugadda Vepudu Perugannam (Potato Fry with curd rice) - well, it is one the most delicious combinations. Yet another all-time favourite is the Tomato dal.

Curd rice is had with ripe bananas or diced mango (Banganapalli variety), this many would know. It is also eaten with boiled yellow of the egg by some. Along the Godavari belt, people have their curd rice with a sweet – a laddu or a kaja or even jaggery. Some have it with jalebi. Some like having it with the Podis (Kandi Podi, Nuvvula Podi), or even boondi (savoury). A few non-vegetarians eat their curd rice with pieces of chicken fry or curry.

In Telangana, the curd is not as extensively eaten as in Andhra Pradesh. Once a cousin from Sangareddy was horrified that he was being served curd – ‘Sardi ayithadi’ (I will catch a cold) – he had exclaimed. This is more or less the sentiment. But, during hot summers, in addition to curd, there is this diluted buttermilk made extra tasty with coarsely ground mint, ginger, curry leaves and chillies, salt and lemon juice. A potful of this wonderful concoction (Salla) kept in earthen pot vanishes within no time. It is good for health and works as a coolant for the body.

Coming back to the curd; as one great poet said about poetry – nothing is ineligible to be paired with the all so accommodative curd rice. I found that a few like their curd rice with Appadam (papad). And just when I thought it can’t get weirder, I realised there are those who eat it with Rasam, if you please. It was a moment of enlightenment - that- ‘You haven’t heard it all’.

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