The kids are back from school. The humidity is killing, and they look visibly relieved to be back in the cool confines of our home. I get started with preparations to make dosa, a South Indian delicacy that lends itself to many variants.
As I stir the batter and spread it on the tawa, my daughter comes in to the kitchen after her shower. She sniffs and says, “Hmmmm…this smells so good. It smells like grandma’s kitchen.”
I smile. As she eats the crisp, golden dosa with chutney powder, I am transported to my childhood home, and to my mom’s kitchen.
In many ways, the kitchen was the nerve centre of our home. It was rectangular in shape. The cooking range was at one end, while the dining table was at the other end. A square window lit the dining area from 11 am in the morning to mid-afternoon.
Our kitchen was colour coordinated. I remember a red phase and a blue phase. The dining table had an assortment of home-made pickles.
There was always a buzz in the kitchen. With a joint family, there was always something being prepared. We came home from school to the aroma of filter coffee, and dosas with sambhar, or bajjis or some other snack wafting through the air.
I spent a lot of time doing Math at the dining table. The radio blared in the background as I tried to solve equations!
My mom would walk between the stove and the table at least a zillion times each day, always cheerful and busy.
When all of us sat down to have dinner, even after our plates were dry, we would linger on, either sharing how our day went, or singing or listening to my Dad sharing snippets from his day.
Televesion soaps had not invaded our lives then. We would all listen to the news on the radio, and then head back to our rooms to study or squabble with our siblings, or chit chat with our grandma and aunt.
Truly, the smells of my mom’s kitchen were delicious and filled with love, happiness and bonding.