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Elai adai

It was on my return trip after attending a music program in Tampa along with my daughter Aparna and her kids that my avaricious eyes happen to fall on her- a black beauty on a multicolored, golden- boarded, carton inside a movable, transparent-shuttered freezer in a Patel-shop. Mesmerized by her charm, I grabbed a dozen packets instantly and hurried to the car.
” Mesmerized by a beauty on a carton?” I see your eye-brows arching.
Relax; the golden letters on the carton read, ‘ Elai adai’.
Last time, I enjoyed that jack fruit – flavored, semi-hard, semi-soft, sweet snack, in a family wedding in Bombay, was almost an year ago. I served it to Moorthy, my college-mate, whom I had invited and there could not have been a better sweet dish to celebrate the meeting of an old friend . He was so enamored with her charm that he came out with a nice story and wrote more about the elai adai and my kadukkan than about what we missed in our relationship during the long lost years.
Company decides the quality. The association of chakkai varaatti, lifts up elai adai  above the nonmbu adai, in flavor and taste. Nonmbu adai is ideal for nonmbu and shines along with the yellow string. Elai adai is enjoyable always. And kudos to those mamis or pattis who selected vazhai elai, banana leaf for spreading the paste and also for their ingenuity in steaming them in a closed vessel. The steam simply stimulates the smell of the vazai elai and chakkai varatti and when the final product comes out , with a combined flavor, still maintaining their individuality, ah! aanandam, paramanandaham.
Verum arisi adai, is a village girl. Fair, shy and simple. Ffty years may be too long for you, but not for my memory. My Venku chithammai patty in Perinkulam, from whom I borrowed the phrase, ‘Pahavane sarnam’, used to spread the half-crushed, unadulterated, rice paste, on a thick iron fry- pan, make that even by pressing with her own shaky fingers mildly but her finger prints were visible when the adai comes out . Over that,  she places a small ball of fresh vennai, butter, just removed from an ‘uri’, a   mud-pot hanging in a corner with the support of three strings. I see before my eyes, after over fifty years, that ball of  butter slowly losing its shape, melting and oiling the surface of the adai. The butter sacrifices its shape first, then its identity to become a part of the adai to placate our palate and pacify our hunger. A sacrifice worth our praise.
verum arisi adai. is not a Verum, mere adai when it absorbs pure butter or when you allow it, the company of a small ball of brown, undai vellam.
Adai, as such, has its own attraction among our snacks and when that appears in different avatarams, each with a specific flavor, taste and shape, ” ha, enthoru sukham!’, as exclaimed by an Iyer boy who enjoyed Meghana’s food recently, during his debut visit to US, on official work.

2 thoughts on “Elai adai

  1. so nice a story I got the urge to taste the Ilai Adai

  2. We all congrats you and members of the family for the grand marriage of your Son being celebrated by the Blessings of Lord Guruvaruppan. Our best wishes for successful conduct of the marriage and for a happy life for the young couple.
    Sundaresan

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