If you are Indian, you’ll probably wonder why this, of all things, deserves a blog post. Well, I’m feeling nostalgic. And when you are feeling nostalgic, there’re very few dishes that will transport you to some part of childhood like this one. For me, its train journeys, as may be evident from the way it is referred to in our house: Station Alu. Puri with potato or Alu Masala was something we got when we were on our oftentimes-longer-than-24-hrs train journey from wherever to our “native place” Kerala. As kids, we rarely ate this combination anywhere else but in trains; at most in those train station restaurants. Mostly because the alternatives (Dosas or Bread-Omelets served with suspect-looking chutneys or ketchups) looked distinctly less attractive, and also because, Puri.
Puri was a family favorite. It was a family tradition – Sunday breakfast was always Puri unless extenuating circumstances (like not being at home because of vacations or social events) prevented its making. But, at home, we always had it with Chole or Rajma. The literally handful of times my folks made Puri with Station Alu, my brother and I frowned and grumbled through the entire meal. Station Alu was a compromise, one we were willing to make in a combination involving Rotis (again, because alternatives. In an effort to make us eat all vegetables, my folks invented some pretty ghastly dishes. For example: there was one thing they called “Red Kootan,” meaning red gravy, that was an unholy combination of potato, carrot, and beetroot, and optional ingredients, peas and beans). Puri-Chole and Puri-Rajma were sacred combinations, not to be messed with. There are several stories in our family around this combination, including one oft-repeated legend of a 6-year-old me eating 18 Puris and a substantial amount of Chole that my mom had packed for me and my friends, by myself.
Puri-Station Alu, ahem, Puri-Masala is a more regular component of S’s childhood. While it wasn’t a family tradition like our Sunday breakfasts, it was still one of those special dishes that they looked forward to as kids. He would make what he calls “Puri dogs” and consume them by the ..er..half dozens. Which is a lot if you consider the size of the Puris his mom makes – slightly bigger than your average hotel Puris. He still eats them like that at home actually, because its fun and because why the hell not.
Of course, with all this Puri in her parents blood, there is no way the love of them has escaped A. She is puri tarah se mad about Puris! (See what I did there? Hyuk hyuk) As much as love eating them by the 1.5 dozens, I’m not very fond of making Puris at home. There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is my level of skill at making them. We shall not get into those now. Instead, we shall focus on the fact that I did make Puri-Masala tonight. A ate more than she usual would, because Puri. S enjoyed some Puri dogs inhibitions-free. And I sat sniffling (because unexpectedly spicy green chillies ok!) reliving some memories and thinking this could be a blog post.