Kattu Saada Koodai (Packed Rice Basket)


Today, I want to eat a South Indian wedding meal. The craving was triggered by a lovely aroma that wafted from my neighbour’s home earlier today.

Many types of dishes are served in a typical South Indian wedding. The wedding festivities are spread over 2 to 3 days, and each meal offers something special. The most important meal is the one that is served immediately after the wedding. This is the grandest meal of them all.

However, I want to eat the meal that is served on the third day, when people are preparing to go home after the wedding.

Many, many decades ago, when there was no motorized transport available, guests and family members had to walk many kilometers (sometimes even for a few days) to attend weddings. Sometimes they arrived in bullock carts!

So, on the day after the wedding, when these people had to go back home, the bride’s family usually packed baskets filled with food packets; food that would ‘keep’ till they reached home. This food was also light on the stomach, to neutralize the effect of all the rich wedding food that people had consumed!

Each group of people who left after the wedding carried this basket with them. It was called the ‘kattu saada koodai‘, which translates to basket with food packets!

Though people do not have to travel for many days or walk to get home after weddings these days, the kattu saada koodai is still in vogue, but has taken on a new avatar.

Rather than packing the food in baskets, all items that were traditionally packed in a kattu saada koodai are now served as a meal on the day people are going back home.

These meals are my favourite. Served on fresh banana leaves, the kattu saada koodai menu has rice mixed in a special, spicy gravy with a tamarind base containing many small berries, which are known for their digestive properties. Papadams are included. There is curd rice with a small serving of pickle too!

Picture courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

A simple meal, light on the stomach, but totally yummy!

There’s no wedding in the family anytime soon, so maybe I should just prepare the meal myself. Hmmmm!

An Unforgettable Train Journey


We reach the station in typical Bollywood climax style…with barely 10 minutes to spare. We’ve been looking forward to this 36 hour train journey, on the Rajdhani Express, from Delhi to Bangalore for a long long time. Water bottles, Tinkles & some magazines, and we are good to go. My husband and I have hyped it up a bit for the kids, loaded as we are with memories of our long train journeys as children.
The typical last minute chaos of the station fades away as the train slowly trundles out…..bringing into focus another ecosystem, the inside of the train.
I watch with interest, as people settle down. Strangely, most people are intently focused on their smart phones. Nobody talks or acknowledges their neighbours. So very different from when I was a child. Nobody has the ubiquitous junk food plastic bag from home filled with ‘thattais’, ‘murukkus’ and chips. I smile at this change…as I remember boarding the train and a mere five minutes into the journey the crunchy munching would start. People would talk loudly, share their food and a sense of camaraderie would prevail.
I look up to see what my children are making of this journey. They are very excited…each of them has made the berth their home and invite the other to visit. They do not seem to miss their electronic gadgets at all. They play noughts and crosses & ice cream soda on & off. They relish every meal…and wait for the next one. They like the excitement of cooping themselves inside their berths with the curtains and peeping out now & then to talk to us.
I look out of the window, small towns and villages breeze past. Dots on a map, now here, now gone…the enormity & beauty of our country hit me, as the long serpent chugs away relentlessly. Flashes of people, animals, level crossings …..life goes on outside at a steady pace. From within, they seem to happen in fast forward. I dream about everything and nothing, feeling philosophical and sleepy at the same time. I enjoy every moment, more so, because the children are having a great time.
I yearn for tamarind rice and idlis soaked in milagai podi, curd rice & pickle, another flash from memory.
Before we know it we are in Bengaluru, back to the real world!