A Family Secret

Parapu pudi! The name does roll off the tongue! A spine tingling, mouth watering family recipe passed down from generations, this seductive powder is a mandatory kitchen item in every household of every relative I know.

Dissecting the name, Parapu is dhal or a lentil, Pudi is powder. So, as the name suggests, it loosely translates as Dhal/Lentil Powder. But what a disservice we would do to this grandiose offering to the palate with a mere translation to the English Language. This is one food item that is more than the sum of the parts.

I don’t want to go into the making of this flamboyant symphony of dhal, chillies, horse gram and salt. Doing so, would demean the word of mouth tradition of passing this recipe. What I do want to do is talk about how to eat it, which is indeed the culmination of all things that are good in life.

So, how do you eat it, you might as well ask. Well, I am going to tell you!

We’ll start by looking at the various schools of consumption of this ‘powder’-ous nectar of the gods.

You can go the ghee way or the oil way. This is completely in your hands as there are equally strong proponents of both and there is no wrong choice. After due trial and error, you have now picked one lubricant.

Next, you need rice that is not prepared fresh as that tends to be a tad sticky. Basmati rice is a strict no-no, by the way. The ideal rice is one that has been made at least 5 hours earlier. The closer towards the 8 hour mark, the better.

Slowly put a few drops of ghee (or oil) on the rice. Mix the rice thoroughly so it takes on a slightly oily feel. Not too much mind you. Your fingers should have a subtle sheen to them, that’s all. Then, add a small teaspoon of the holy grail of powders. You need to see the whiteness of the rice, yet the brown-ness of the pudi should be all pervading. Don’t worry, this takes some practice, but in time, you will be a Jedi Master. The pudi is best if made slightly coarse and not too smooth so as you mix the rice gently, you can feel the roughness of the powder in your fingers. The aromas at this point is over-powering and if you haven’t already created a drool pool around where you are standing, get your nasal passages checked.

Now, very gingerly, make a small ball with the rice. Again, there is an optimal dimension for this but typically it’s about the size of a small egg. If you have the abyss portion of the dhaal from rasam, that is an unbeatable combination for you to dip the ball of rice ever so slightly in the rasam dhaal before putting it in your mouth. If not, don’t worry. You still are way up in food heaven already. The success indicator of your work so far is when no rice sticks to your hand when the first ball of the volcanic mix has entered your mouth. Savor the richness of the powder as it brings out the evocative and heady mix of spices in your tongue, your mouth, until it finally disappears down your throat leaving a lingering after-taste and an addiction for life. Short of swooning, you will now experience every possible pleasure combined with the anticipation of the next ball of supernova.

If you would ever like a demo of the consumption process, I will be more than happy to oblige.

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