(Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t

Friday, June 16, 2006

Remembering Grandma – I

AMALTAS

It’s been more than fifteen years since I lost her, yet I still miss her cooking. Titti, as my brother and I used to call my maternal grandmother was a remarkable person. A writer with powerful wordsmith skills, she held equal dexterity in other departments—sewing, knitting, and of course cooking. She was also an active social worker. I miss her wisdom, her sunshine presence, her selfless love. And like I said in the beginning, I miss her cooking.

Titti was an innovator. Not only did she excel in preparing traditional recipes to perfection, she also often created splendid wonders out of seemingly ordinary and at times unusual ingredients.

And so it was with her experiment--successful, and oft-repeated--with Amaltas flowers. Whenever I see these resplendent yellow clusters, also known as golden showers, blowing through the hot Delhi summer breeze, I think of Titti. And I think of the delicious fritters she produced from these flowers.

So recently, when the prolific and talented Shilpa tagged me for the ten things I miss the most about my mother’s cooking, I thought of starting these posts about my grandma. You see, since my mother is right here with me, I don’t have to miss her cooking at all! But we both miss Titti’s full-of-love edible creations. Just last week, Ma thought of remembering my grandma by getting a bunch of Amaltas and frying some fritters off them.

Even though I enjoyed helping Titti make these delightful pakoras or fritters, I didn’t know Amaltas is the proud owner of several medicinal properties.

The ancient Indian system of medicine attributes medicinal properties to almost all parts of amaltas tree, but it is the pulp of its fruit which is considered as an excellent laxative. The amaltas’ pulp has a peculiar flavour and is sweet in taste and cold in effect. It also has digestive, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic and blood purifying properties. A strong purgative, the root of amaltas is used in various skin diseases, while its leaves form an important part of many ointments and poultices. The bark of the tree, which is known as sumari, has astringent properties. From this link.

Let me share with you all the simple recipe of Titti’s Amaltas fritters then. Since it fits the theme so well, this is also my entry for Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging.

Titti’s Amaltas Fritters

Ingredients:

A bunch of freshly-plucked Amaltas blooms
Gram flour (besan): 2/3 cup
Green chili (chopped): 3-4
Nigella seeds (kalonji): 1/2 teaspoon
Salt, to taste
Water: 1 cup

Method:

1.Make a batter using the above ingredients. Make sure it has a thickish consistency, so you can make small fritters.
2. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the fritters in batches.
3. Serve hot with chutney or ketchup or just like that.

Nothing special about the fritters, really. Yes, they do taste yummy, but then most fritters do, don’t they? It’s all about the memory for me. I miss Titti, but then she smiles back with the waves of the cascading Amaltas bunches.


~ Sury

27 comment(s):

I love the story of how your grandmother made this. Very touching to hear how you still miss her. I feel that way about my mother and she died in 1998.

Also, I don't think anyone has ever written about this plant before so I am excited about that!

By Anonymous Kalyn, at 12:47 AM  

Sury, that was beautiful! Very moving and very touching!

By Anonymous Manisha, at 1:08 AM  

Wow. Thats a great post. Even I keep wondering about my grandmother(maternal grandmother to be precise, I never saw my paternal grandmother) all the time. She was a gem. Your post reminds me of her. Even the simplest dishes have lot of memories and they are special. Thanks for posting and I would love to read the whole series :D.

By Anonymous shilpa, at 3:03 AM  

Hi Sury,
I wished you yday but i couldnt find my comment.No pblm.
Belated Birthdaywishes and all your dreams come true.New fritter.Thanks for sharing.
Vineela

By Anonymous vineela, at 4:36 AM  

Wow fritters made out of flowers!Amazing!

By Anonymous Sumitha Shibu, at 5:13 PM  

Very nice post. Have never tasted these fritters ? I will ask my mom to try these.

By Anonymous krithika, at 12:24 AM  

sury, my grandmom and mom make the same thing with 'kumro phool'.

By Anonymous rums, at 12:57 PM  

Thanks, Kalyn. Yes, these fritters are something I have only tasted courtesy my grandma. I guess she could have copyrighted them if she wanted :)

Manisha
, thanks. I am glad to share this with you all.

Shilpa
, you spurred me on to write this post. So thanks! I am so glad it brought back memories of your grandmother :)

Vineela, many thanks for the birthday wishes and the kind words on this post :)

Sumitha, Krithika, do try out these flowery fritters if you can. They taste yum.

Rums, kumror phul bhaja is something my granny used to make pretty often, too. Tastes delightful, doesn't it?

By Anonymous Sury, at 9:04 PM  

I have to remember to check this blog too--I'm always only reading your writing one.

Sounds tasty, but I don't think I can find those flowers around here--too bad too.

I often regret not living in a more diverse area.

-oni

By Anonymous onipar, at 9:51 AM  

Thats really a heart touching post indeed. These fritters are something that I should definetely try out.

By Anonymous sowjanya, at 11:45 AM  

Lovely post, Sury. Your post reminded me of my own Ammamma who passed away 2 years ago. Thanks for sharing such fond memories of your Titti..:)
Nice flowery fritters recipe, Sury. Absolutely new to me!!

By Anonymous sailaja, at 2:10 PM  

Oni, good to see you peeking in here! I've been a little tardy around these corners, but more delights are waiting in the wings, so keep checking in :)

Sowjanya, thanks for dropping by and for your kind words on the post. Do try the fritters if you can, and let me know how it turned out :)

Aww, thanks, Sailu. We never really forget our grandparents, do we? Glad you liked the post. I hope you can try out the fritters sometime :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 10:46 AM  

Is that laburnum blossoms?

By Anonymous Dee, at 2:51 AM  

Hi, Dee. Thanks for dropping by. I am not familiar with laburnum blossoms, so won't be able to confirm that for you. Sorry.

I only know the Indian name for the tree/flowers--Amaltas.

By Anonymous Sury, at 9:36 AM  

I have been off the radar for a few weeks now. First off a very very happy b'day to you Sury.
Thats such a moving post. Your titti must definitely have been an amazing chef to make fritters out of flowers!!! You have written about your memories beautifully.
Second..am I glad to see you use kalonji. I hope you wont mind if I add this recipe to our kalonji list?! Cheers

By Anonymous Ashwini, at 8:55 PM  

Hey, Ashwini, thanks for the comment! I have been off the radar for a while too :(

Sure, you can add this to your kalonji list. What is it, by the way? You got my curiosity piqued for sure :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 10:37 PM  

Hey, It looks like Golden Shower tree? Do they flower only during April-May?

By Anonymous L.G, at 2:56 AM  

Very touching,neatly written. I guess we call this flower "Kanikonna" in Kerala.

By Anonymous Archana, at 8:38 AM  

Hi LG, you are right. These are golden showers, and yes, they do bloom during April-May, mostly.

Archana
, many thanks. Do try the fritters if you can :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 8:58 AM  

Something that's so Amazing and God's creation is indeed so Awesome... blooms so beautiful and edible .wish I could get a taste of them..

By Anonymous Lera, at 12:51 PM  

Thanks for the lovely comment, Lera. I completely agree; how amazing. I hope you can try out these fritters some time :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 5:41 PM  

I wish I too had seen my grandma and had enjoyed the love of a 'Titti' like Grandma...you should definitely missing her a lot...amaltas are symbols of prosperity in literature and I never knew one could make fritters too!!

By Anonymous shynee, at 12:27 AM  

Wow, Shynee, thanks for that trivia on Amaltas. I never knew.

Yes, I do miss Titti a lot :(.

By Anonymous Sury, at 9:22 AM  

Thanks for a lovely post Sury.

If I'm not mistaken, Amaltas are called 'Konrai' in Tamil. They are supposed to Lord Siva's favourite flowers. I remember seeing this in the village temple in Srilanka. Have seen it in Tamil Nadu too. Never knew that you could made something edible out of it. Looks good too. Thanks for the medical properties Sury.

By Anonymous Mathy Kandasamy, at 7:35 PM  

Welcome to our blog, Mathy! Thanks for the vital info on Amaltas and for your kind words. I hope you get to try the fritters in your kitchen sometime :)

By Blogger Sury, at 1:09 AM  

Amaltas is such a delight anyway....amaltas pakodas take it to a whole different level I suppose!
I do think amaltas is called the Indian laburnum....I had been missing seeing these since I left India, but imagine my delight in finding one of these trees right in Tucson!!!!

By Blogger aspiring annapoorna, at 3:16 PM  

Thanks for the info, Annapoorna. I didn't know they were called Indian laburnum.

Indeed, I can sense your delight on spotting these blooms in Arizona. Memories of India are always welcome, no?

By Blogger Sury, at 5:48 PM  

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