Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Power of Chutney

Long ago there lived a poor widow at the edge of a small village. She just had a little land, a few cows and a small house. She had no other family. So she cultivated the land as best as she could and ran a small Inn at her place for the passers by. She could only afford to serve simple fare. But she was a very good cook and a very kind woman. She served all the visitors with love and took whatever money they gave in return. So the visitors who visited her and tasted the food she served spoke highly of her.

One day it so happened a rider on a horse, reached the village in the night, after having traveled a long distance across a dense jungle for many days. He was so tired and thirsty, that the moment he saw the small hut on the edge of the village, he went and asked the old lady for some water. to drink The lady made him sit on the porch and brought him some buttermilk. After quenching his thirst, the lady offered him food and shelter for the night. He agreed immediately as he was tired.

The lady then asked him to take bath and clean up at the well in her back yard. By the time he came back, his horse was taken care of and was munching away peacefully the fodder it was given. The man went inside and sat to have his dinner. The lady placed a banana leaf before him and served hot rice, a green chutney and a small pot full of buttermilk. Then she said a bit sadly, "Son this is all I have tonight". Please have it.

The man was very hungry, but was touched by the old lady's kindness. He mixed the green chutney with the hot rice and ate it. He found the chutney so tasty, that he asked for second and third helping and had his fill. He was then made to rest on a bed laid for him in the porch. In no time he was asleep.

Next day he got up and while talking to her learned about her lonely and difficult life. He thanked the lady for her service and gave her some silver coins. She was very happy. He told her he wanted to leave later that day. The lady took the coins to the village grocer and brought the required groceries She then made him break fast and also some snacks for his travel. The man thanked her and gave her some more coins and left.

A few days after that, some men visited her.They told her that the King had ordered her to be brought to his court. The lady was frightened and asked them what was her fault. But the men said they did not know any thing. So she went with them to the court. There on the throne sat the king in all his splendor.

He invited her very warmly and then before the entire court praised her cooking and said that he never ate such a tasty food. Only then she recognized her visitor. He then asked her what was the chutney she had served him that day when he visited her. The lady apologized to the King saying that when he visited her she did not know that he was the King and served him a simple fare and that she should be forgiven for any lapses on her part. After getting assurance form the King she said " Oh great King, I served you a chutney made of green grass since I am poor and did not have any vegetables or meat to cook for you that day." The entire court was stunned. The King then clapped his hands and said "Lady if you can make such a tasty dish out of grass you are a great cook. I could never make out that it was grass. From today you are appointed as my personal cook"  All the people present in the court also applauded her.She lived happily after that.

This is a story my granny used to tell me. She always said that the taste lies in the cooks hand, how committed he/she is towards the cooking and serve the food with love and care. This is the secret of the Indian hospitality-"Athithi Devo Bhava"-Visitor is God personified. Sometimes we are called upon suddenly to rustle a fare with very limited resources, one should not panic but do our best so that the eater only gets tasty food. So many of us women know this, follow and succeed at this isn't it?

I just wanted to share this little story with you. Hope I have not bored you. From next post onwards I am going to share my recipes on chutneys....Keep an eye on my blog.....

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