Sprig of curry leaves..

The thing with Malayalees is that, they complain much about life in kerala/India and love to live outside Kerala/India..But the truth is you can take a Malayalee out of Kerala, but you can never take out their food fads,prejudices and taboos that are so inherent in them.
They would never stop complaining if the fish curry didn’t have curry leaves or if the kappa didn’t have mustard seeds, because in Kerala, they get nice fish that they cook in meen chatti and buy fresh kappa from the junction!!

My grandmother used to make Sambharam for the weary travellers. In those days there were no restaurants one could just walk in to and order a drink. it was before the PET bottles were common and taking a bottle of water along was not practical. One depended on the generosity of people living near the main road, who would make sambharam and keep it in the kooja near the gate.
If that was how my grandmother treated strangers, one can imagine how she took care of her guests!!
I had relatives over recently..( unexpected, unwanted), nevertheless they are my relatives and I was going to show them respect and treat them well..
I tried
But my sins were too many for me to be a proper Malayalee!!
I was told over and over and over that I was a bad mother because I didn’t teach my children to speak in Malayalam.
Since it was MY choice as to what I teach my children, I ignored the comment. My children, my rules..Simple. They were finding faults with everything my children were doing and were criticizing them. My children are experts in ignoring ..to such an extent that the complaints soon progressed to my children are not showing them respect!! Perhaps they didn’t understand that respect is earned.
BTW, I still don’t understand this. I have two recliners. Yaya was laying down on one recliner and reading her book. The other one, exactly the same type was empty.My relative had a tantrum cause when he came to the room, Yaya didn’t get up from her chair and offer her chair to him. why was he barking like a mad dog at my child when there was an empty chair right next to the one Yaya was using??
When the said relatives couldn’t get a rise out of me with their personal barbs about my children, they then proceeded to hurl invective at my cooking skills.
They were dying to eat Kappa and Meen curry. What is it with Malayalees that three weeks after leaving Kerala, they act as if they can’t live another day if they don’t get a bowl of kappa and meen curry?
Not enough that I had to cook rice and roti for lunch and dinner and also make something my kids would like to eat. ( there is no way my children would eat rice for lunch and dinner every single day)
But they are guests and guests must be treated well..so i drove to the nearest Indian grocer ( 65 km away) to buy frozen Kappa.
But did you know, frozen kappa is not as tasty as fresh kappa? (I am still missing the point here, what were they expecting?? I must start planting kappa??)
Did you know only tenggiri( neymeen) is good to eat with Kappa? ( My local super market sells bara, snapper and salmon)
How could I make fish curry with ready made ginger paste? ( in winter, fresh Ginger is 18$ a kilo and I refused to buy ginger at that price and resort to using ready made ginger paste)
They watched me closely as I cooked the fish curry just in case I screwed it up.. and they soon realized that there were no curry leaves.
I almost pictured them dialling 911, it was that serious!
They wanted to know where they can go and get curry leaves. Fish curry without curry leaves is not fish curry at all !!!!
My cousin has a huge curry leaf plant in her garden and if I call her, she would bring me some. But I was so tired of people who come and stay with you and expecting and wanting their life to be exactly as it was in kerala. So I told them, we don’t get curry leaves in Queensland. ( I do feel guilty for lying, but I was just so tired of them)

Just for the record, it is highly possible that if you are visiting Gulf/US/UK where there are a lot of Malayalees, you can probably get everything you get in Kerala.
But some of us are not that lucky.
We use frozen kappa, make fish curry using red snapper or Bara and we probably don’t get worked up if we don’t get curry leaves. That doesn’t make us any less Malayalee. We just adapt and do the best we can.
You could however be a bit nice and stop complaining and enjoy a nice meal, even if it is Kappa without mustard!!!!( and turmeric and curry leaves!!!)

9 thoughts on “Sprig of curry leaves..

  1. sarah chechi,
    I was laughing my head off readaing this!!! I can't imagine why anyone visiting Australia would want kappa and meencurry…If it was Kangaroo meat, I can understand :P…Why did u go through all this trouble..You should have just given them a cab driver's no. and the map to the super market…they can buy what they want and cook what they want…and maybe you could have criticized their choices as well …hehe…take a deep breath and relax…relatives everywhere are like this…nit pickers!!!

  2. Kochey: Chiricho.. njan alley kashtapettathu..
    I did because, I was taught Atithi devo bhav, but it was really frustrting..
    BTW, I did offer to make them roo meat curry..They freaked out..that is another mallu trait..fear of anything out of the ordinary

  3. I remember when we first came to queensland, we invited our mallu neighbours and friends for Xmas lunch. We included kangaroo meat, quail and ox tail curry. They werent too impressed. One of them made a face when he knew it was quail.

  4. Hi Sarah Chechi,
    I stumbled across your blog a couple of months back and I have been hooked since. You write so beautifully and words cannot even begin to describe the crap that you have gone through. Through it all you have shown so much strength and courage. I have learnt so much. Thank you.

  5. Is it the urge some Malayalees have to pick on single women who are managing well by themselves? Or is it the inability of some Malayalees to leave alone anybody who doesn't follow the beaten path and is unapologetic about it? Anyways, it is unfortunate for you that a whole lot of such people seem to have been born in your family.

  6. Story of my life. Not a proper malayalee either and I don’t intend to be one for the sake of my sanity. My mom freaks out if I don’t do everything the ‘Indian way’. For example I peel the skin of salmon so it comes nice and clean in a different manner than my mom does and she says it’s not the proper way. Does it matter how you cut salmon or fish or prepare whatever as long as it’s edible and descent? While she thinks she’s right, everyone else I’ve spoken to about this thinks its ridiculous.

    I think my maternal family and your family are alike and probably like twins separated at birth, plus most malayalees are the same finding something to gossip about ( not all of course). Like you said, ignore it and move on. And I agree with the respect part, respect needs to be earned and it does not have to be given if they treat you like dirt. Unfortunately many still think they can treat however you want and require you to respect them. But it’s more courteous to do respect them and treat them well. So maybe respect them, but keep minimal contact with them and perhaps stay distant. I noticed that a lot lately in my family and within others.

    • J1289. I was told this true story by a friend..A white man married a Chinese lady and noticed that every time she fries fish, she would cut the fish in half, which was a very unusual way of cutting. He asked his wife why she cuts the fish like that and she replied, this is the Chinese way and how we do it and even my mother cooked the fish like this. The husband insisted the wife calls her mother to find out why she cut the fish in half when she cooked and the mother explained, she didn’t have a pan big enough to hold the whole fish..
      Each to his own.. unfortunately it is very hard for Indian parents to accept their children’s individuality..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *