I smell it before I enter the room. Heck, I smell it before I leave my room. Truth is, I left my room because I smelt it.
We’re rice eaters most of the time, our sort of traditional South Indian Tamil Brahmin (this is where a select few of my friends scream ‘pseudo!!’), and I’ve been reared on rice. God, that makes me sound like livestock, but whatever.
My sight fixes on the fluffy white rice in the cooker, while my olfactory senses are preoccupied with the tangy smell of imli (tamarind) rising from a bowl whose lid is askew. So very deliberate, mom. You know I’m not going to come late with that smell soaking the air in the house. The vathakozhambu (think of it as a thick, spicy gravy with vegetables that we mix with rice) that my mother makes is, quite simply, the stuff of dreams.
Another smell catches my attention and I lift the cover of the adjacent bowl. Baingan ka bhartha (smoked eggplant). If I wasn’t before, I must be drooling now. There are jackfruit chips too! I saw them! And the curd- thick and creamy and cold, like the true curd only North Indians can understand (even if I normally think of them as cuisine-challenged weirdos, I will always choose their curd over our Southern, very runny version). And my mother, who has lived in North India for fourteen years (and counting), understands both our food and their curd: a deadly combination which will probably result in my becoming unsexily fat, and disturbingly uncaring of the fact.
Hastily, I pile my plate with food, only shouting for my big, hungry brother to come for lunch after I’ve taken all I want.
I wipe my chin, fully aware of the small grin on mama’s face. Oh god, I really am drooling.
And with good reason too.