In the Tamil movie Roja, there is a moment that breaks the unhappiness in the life of a women. Roja, the heroine, grows up a happy child in the countryside of Tamil Nadu, India, but under unusual circumstances, in an effort to support the dynamic of the family she loves, she agrees to marry a man who grew up in the city and whom she barely knows. She is unhappy with the marriage and plans to return home. Just then, as part of a formal event at work, she meets her husband’s boss. When the elderly gentleman realizes that he and Roja grew up in the same countryside, he immediately asks her about paniyaram, a rice, water and milk-based savory fritter traditional to the area. As he proceeds to longingly compare the paniyaram’s shade of white to that of, thumbapoo, a local white flower, Roja breaks out into a smile and nods her head in acknowledgement indicating she knows how to make it. Seemingly breaking protocol, the gentleman wonders if he might be invited to taste the paniyaram, but Roja says she has to return home.
Here’s a method to make vellai (white) paniyaram:
Urad dhal (black gram)
Clean and pre-soak rice and urad dhal (in the proportion 1 cup rice to a few teaspoons of urad dhal) for about an hour. Grind using a wet-grinder to a smooth flowing paste adding water as required. Add a few tablespoons of milk and a big pinch of sugar; beat to aerate the batter. Heat oil for deep-frying and to it, gently ladle a small amount of batter in concentric circles. As the batter cooks and rises to the surface, ladle oil on top of the fritter to ensure even cooking. Once crisp, flip the fritter and fry for a few seconds more. The fritter is just done once it looks crisp on both sides but has not started to brown. Transfer it with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain any excess oil. Serve with any savory accompaniment. The paniyaram can be served as dessert, paal or (milk) paniyaram, when made in smaller sizes and soaked in a mixture of lightly sweetened coconut milk and milk.
In the midst of any negative moment I don't enjoy a meal as much as I normally would. However, the meal does break the negative weight. Maybe it is just a distraction, but can a satisfying meal or the mere recreation of it in the mind help glide over negative moments?