As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, we’re using domestic help services of Anju – a wonderful Bengali woman who comes for a couple of hours every day and works her magic on making chapatis and helping us with some other chores. To be honest, I still can’t help feeling a bit uncomfortable about having a maid. In my culture a woman is supposed to manage everything on her own – housework, cooking, career, child care and so much more. If you can’t, it’s merely a question of poor time management or your own laziness.
However, a woman in my culture doesn’t have to combat ever-present dust that covers all the surfaces shortly after they were cleaned. And she has a washing machine and running water to do her laundry. These are only two reasons from a long list I’ve put together to justify our decision to hire Anju. Apart from being a “night owl” by nature, kids and my freelance writing projects often keep me awake till early morning, so I don’t mind some help at all.
So, thanks to Anju we always have freshly made chapatis for breakfast along with scrambled eggs, stewed vegetables and what not. When she takes her leaves, there are two options – we either manage on our own, and chapatis get replaced by bread from a shop downstairs, or buy a ready made South Indian breakfast – idli and vada. And it’s not hard to guess which one I prefer 🙂
So what is idli and vada?
Simply put, idli is a spongy rice cake. It’s made by steaming batter made of fermented lentils and rice. Vada is a crispy, deep fried snack, made of black gram (urad dal) batter. My kids adore vadas and calls them exclusively “doughnuts” 🙂
Even when we attend some outdoor events where snacks are usually served, kids go for vadas first.
Idli and vada combo is usually served with coconut chutney (my favorite!) and sambar – a kind of spicy vegetable soup. The vendor we usually buy idlis and vadas from gives an anormous amount of coconut chutney and sambar, so they’re often served with our luch as well.
I must say all the South Indian people I’ve ever met took a lot of pride in their cuisine and were sure that everything we’re getting in Mumbai was not even close to its authentic taste. Well, it’s difficult for me to judge – I’ve never been to the South India. For the time being! 🙂