Have you ever wondered just a clap of thunder and a random song can bring back loads of memories. It does to me, of one fateful rainy October night of 1971. Our childhood home in Namakkal was in the then fashionable extension area of the town. Most of the houses were huge buildings built in the colonial era of 1940s, standing strong and tall.
In the beginning of seventies, there was one cinema house that came up about half a kilometre down the main road. We were able to see the bamboo construction of the touring theatre hall from our doorstep and with their loudspeaker system turned on, you had a audio soundtrack of every movie screened there. The theatre owners had decidedly thought that songs from Caravan and Kal aaj aur kal were superhits. These were played repeatedly at the start of show time and at intermissions, that we had them memorised and thought ourseleves pro in Hindi movie songs.
On this night of October, it was raining not so heavily but there was a standard drizzle with lightning and thunder intermittently. We were given dinner early lest the power supply fails and were instructed to study for the ensuing first term exams which we did sitting on the stone steps in the front of the house listening to 'piya thoo ab tho aa jaa' being played in the theatre. Down the lane my grand father was inspecting the construction work at a neighbour's house. My dad was away at Salem meeting a colleague and would return much later that night.
There was such loud clap of thunder preceeded by blinding lightning that fell like a flourescent carpet right from the heavens above. The supply of power died immediately. The noise of confusion arose from the theatre. Before I realised, I saw this projectile of fire moving towards the house, it deflected and struck the room where we had the radio. It deflected once again and earthed in the barn shattering a pillar.
No words can suffice to describe the confusion that followed. Least were we aware of the after effects until the next morning. The roof of our radio room had caved in as the ariel had tried to ground the striking thunder.
Worst was not over yet. As the heavens met the earth at our barn, Tiger, our Alsation mix breed had been blinded, deafened and had lost his loud barking voice. We were not prepared to put him to sleep though.
The dog outlived my grandad, for whom the shock of seeing his home in a devastation was enough to paralyze his right side totally and his left partially. He lived till the May of 1972 undergoing treatment and therapy. We kept Tiger as lovingly as possible until the day some six years later he died.
Everytime, the clap of thunder brings so much fear in me that it has become something near phobia and the song brings back these moments.
Now, this sweet today I made for deepavali is one that all of us make regularly but I followed the recipe that was done years ago by one Nagainallur cook hired specially to make this for a dinner we hosted for the members of Lions Club International.
Amma has written down the recipe and I have replicated it. Amazingly, her description of how the maida will cook like water drops falling steadily in a puddle of water and such worked while I made it today and helped me time it and bring out such a delicious sweetmeat for this Deepavali. Have a look at the picture of the dish and her notebook.
2 cups maida/ all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 & 1/4 cup ghee
few drops of rose essence ( I used 2 teaspoons of Rose syrup)
Heat ghee in a kadai until smocking. Reduce heat and drop the maida in allowing it to cook in the ghee. The maida will bubble up in big bubbles in the middle with the 'pluck, pluck' sound of rain water dropping on an already formed puddle (literal translated description from my mom's note book). Cook for some more time , remove from fire. But keep stirring the mass regularly.
Keep sugar with some water added to it on the stove. Bring it to boil and without disturbing much, remove scum floating on the surface. Boil until a two thread consistency syrup has formed. You should be able to pull the sugar between your thumb and forefinger forming two threads. Allow the sugar syrup to boil a bit further but not so much that it becomes sugar. Add the essence to the sugar syrup.
Remove from the stove top. Add the maida sugar mix to this and stir vehemently until they blend well and thicken. The mass will now resemble a soft chappati dough. Transfer this to a prepared plate greased with two teaspoons of ghee and flatten with the back of a ladle.
Allow to cool for few minutes and using a knife, cut shapes of squares or diamonds.
The above recipe makes around fifty pieces and some edge pieces those are off-shape.
and this ghee sweet is packed off to Sanghi too who is relishing Fall-in-love season with Ghee.
The recipe is dedicated to my nephew Anirudh who is fond of the maida cake...though I'm not sure of the rose flavour in this.