Moti Mummy (elder mother) as we called her came from Thasra, a small village in Gujarat and brought with her the culinary legacy imbibed in her by her mother. She applied that knowledge to living in Mumbai and a large part of it involved an annual cycle of producing food for storage. In the agrarian tradition that most of India follows, she provisioning for the entire year with tons of grain and pulses would be negotiated for and delivered to our home every harvest season and an annual cycle of pickling, preserving and drying.
A fortnight or so before Diwali every year she would get into action with Maharaj and all the ladies of the house, churning out snacks by the boxfull. Once lunch was wound up and everyone had rested for a half hour or so, the kitchen would slowly wake up as everyone trickled in and sat down to their tasks grabbing favourite rolling pins or clattering around in the looking for the utensils they were comfortable with. Maharaj would crank up the stove and a huge kadhai would be heated up and the afternoons industry would be off to a good start as the assembly line warmed up to making the snack of the day crescendoing with a huge box of some new and mouthwatering goodie for us kids to sample.
Over the next few days Fafda, Mathiya, Ganthiya, Chakli, kachori, cholafali, ghughra, laddus, would all roll of the assembly line to fill huge aliminium boxes and be stored in the smaller Kothar (storeroom) near the living area of our house. As kids we would wait for the door to open, ever ready to sneak in and steal a favourite treat. And then Diwali would be upon us, the living room, with its green walls, ornate wainscoting and large glass and wood showcases would be the focus of our attention. Or more specifically the large round elephant table in the middle of this room would be, because on it would be spread Moti Mummys best table cloth and finest serving-ware crytal bowls my uncle had brought home from his travels, laquer ware bowls my father had brought back from Japan, trays and platters, filled with all the snacks that had been made and arrived as gifts. All to be offered to guests that visited to wish us.
Besides all the dry snacks that were made, there would also be a special hot snack made that day and the next day which was Gujarati New Year for us (this is the day that trading and business families start off their financial year). Gujaratis are gourmands in every sense and food is important to us at any time, so obviously at this time of the year its feast time!
|A Hot Farsan platter with (clockwise) Dhokla, Kachori, Handvo, Ghugra & Pattice|