Mangalore Store

Buns and Sambar :-)

Who will cook for us ?

Rekhu, your dad has written that I come to Kudige to help him out. Looks like he is swamped with work. I will need to go for three days at least.
Sukku and me together started – “Ayyo amma, if you are not there how will we manage?”
Amma – “Its only Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Sunday I will be back.”
One thing that picked our brain was that we will not see her face when we come back in the evening from school. There will not be someone who would listen to our banter, ensure that we have had our meals properly. The other thing was, Bapama (paternal grandma) also was planning on going to her sister’s place. Who will cook for us?

Those were the good old days of not having too many hotels or the Zomatos, Swiggys or the Pizza joints that we have today.
Every household believed in having the home cooked meal and that too sitting together. We did have the television but the programs were very limited and it never interfered in our personal lives.
There was no phone at home and life was quite simple compared to today.

But that was not how we thought of it on that day. Our second worry was how to manage food?
My mom came up with this brilliant idea. She cooked such a huge quantity of Kolombo (sambar for Konkanis). And fried a big dabba of Mangalore buns.

During that time Jaganath Bappa (Father’s younger brother is Bappa) was not yet married. Mom requested him to “baby sit” all four of us.
Though we were four kids of higher primary and high school, we were not equipped enough to cook for ourselves. There were quite a few constraints and restrictions in using the kitchen of a conservative household which made us turn the other way for making things too complex.
We knew to cook rice on the charcoal chulha and heat whatever is already cooked.

The Plan

So, the plan was laid. The quantity of buns was enough for the five of us for three days, for breakfast. Kolombo was enough as a side dish.
We were supposed to buy milk and heat it on our own. Mom taught us the basics of making chai. And then off she went on her half yearly duty which we kept cursing.
That night was uneventful as mom was there and she had taken care of things.

Next day morning we got ready for school and each of took upon ourselves a task. And finally, we sat for breakfast.
Jaganath Bappa asked “Aaji Kasane khana (What is it for breakfast?)”
We: “Buns ani Kolombo Jaganath Bappa”
Bappa: “Ok…”
The day, to us went by uneventfully. Noon we had rice and kolombo. Night it was Peja (rice porridge) made of boiled rice and kolombo.

We got the hang of it.
Remember, we did not have a phone at home so that mom could call and check on us how things went?
If it was current day, maybe we would have done a video call and made sad puppy faces so that mom would feel guilty and come back sooner.

Second day started with Jaganath Bappa’s question – “Aaji Kasane? (What is it for today?)”. He knew the reality but still he asked the question.
Immediately, my sister, replied – “Jaganath Bappa, kaali buns ani kolombo, Aaji kolombo ani buns. (Jaganath Bappa, yesterday it was buns and kolombo and today its kolombo and buns)”.
All of us laughed together and had our share of the food that day.

Then we came to the third day. All of us were feeling happy for our own reasons. Bappa also would have been secretly happy since his ‘baby-sitting’ was getting over and also the buns kolombo ordeal.

Mom arrived finally on the fourth day early morning. She prepared a simple upma which was such a huge welcome after what we had for the last three days.
When having the upma, Jaganath Bappa had to make a comment – first day it was buns-kolombo-buns, second day kolombo-buns-kolombo…
I have started feeling even my sweat is smelling of kolombo. That was such a hilarious comment and we all laughed a lot that day.

But one thing we took for granted – in our house there was no fridge to increase the shelf life of eatables.
The fried buns came for three straight days without needing any refrigeration. If it was current day, we would not have had Maida stuff like this – Oh my God, Maida!!! To top it, fried in oil!! Bad for health etc. etc.
Those days were about eating well and walking enough everywhere. Not because we were health conscious. But because we had limited options for conveyance, mostly the city bus. Autos were considered luxury. Cars were like seeing a cinema star – with awestruck wonderment. Roads were generally less used by vehicles and more by people. Those were the days we had time for small gossip and to share any aches and pains. The food cooked in the neighbor’s house smelt heavenly, not only because it was cooked well but also because there was less pollution that the flavors got carried intact to our houses too.

These days too whenever we make the traditional buns or kolombo, that anecdote comes back to mind.

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