A Rich And Frothy, Yet Fluffy Tale
Something light and fluffy and frothy, yet impossibly rich, for your Friday morning. Just to lighten up the mood after the nasty heaviness of the last week.
This post was inspired by thw following short post on Atlas Obscura. I’ll let you quickly read it before proceeding.
I haven’t had a chance to eat (drink?) this particular heavenly concoction yet, but I do remember having the fluffiest and frothiest and yet richest Lassi of my entire lifetime at Dehradun many years (decades 🙁 ) ago when I went to Himankan (a 2 week long trek in the Himalayas) in my non-rich and non-fluffy youth. The Lassi was so rich in fact that I still lovingly carry its light fluffiness around my waist to this date. Really. I have been a really good boy since, having never had anything as rich and fluffy as that Lassi since, but I am still sloshing around in that light yet heavy fluffiness (or is it fluffy heaviness?) from that one time I indulged in it.
Having grown up in Maharashtra, the tough, hard land of stones (“राकट देशा, कणखर देशा, दगडांच्या देशा” as described by none other than the great poet गोविंदाग्रज), this sort of rich and frothy fluffiness was totally unfamiliar to me at that time. I had had Lassi before of course, but not one that you had to eat with a spoon! In fact, the Lassi you used to get in Mumbai was widely suspected to contain blotting paper pulp mixed in with some light and not-so-fluffy cream to make it appear richer. And this pulp was definitely not fiction. I had conducted scientific studies on this cream and clearly discovered evidence of such adulteration. (On the other hand, though, it had the benefit of turning this otherwise too-rich-for-poor-old-you food into a high fiber health food! So I guess it was ok. We certainly took it in stride, not having known any better – at least not knowing what the rich and frothy people of the North were enjoying all along.)
The people in the North, man, they eat some rich yet fluffy stuff! I remember during another one of those Himankan treks (I went on two of them in two subsequent years, one in UP and another in HP), after we had trekked through the mountains for a few days eating simple food we had to carry with us, finally getting to a town where they had a proper eating establishment. Well, as proper as you can get in places so remote, they live really happy and blissful lives completely unaware of the big bad world they live in! They actually had smiles on their faces, had time to chat, and were always generous in spite of apparently having so little.
Anyway, coming back to the restaurant-at-the-end-of-the-trek (see what I did there?), they served us something called “Madra“. Apparently this is a common food eaten by totally non-fluffy and totally non-rich, yet inexplicably very frothy locals. (I’m not sure what the real spelling is. Not that it matters, because I have seen some very entertaining manglings of the English language around those parts, so I’m sure they won’t mind.) This thing, which was supposed to be a type of Rajma, actually turned out to be kidney beans and fried paneer pieces sloshing around in spicy oil. I mean, it was literally floating in oil! As in the gravy was basically just spicy oil! And after having trekked around on empty stomachs for a few days, we downed it like it was madra-from-heaven. Suffices to say I have never managed to outdo that experience since, having never been able to eat any kind of anything floating in oil again.
Did I say that I had been a good boy since? And not just in terms of food. In everything! What a big mistake! It wasn’t completely voluntary, just so you know. There were adults and great expectations and career prospects and marriages (well, just one, just to be sure 😉 ) involved. But, as I said, in retrospect, probably my worst mistake ever. I mean, I look around and see all those bad boys who didn’t listen to the adults enjoying perfectly fluffy lives of rich frothiness! Going around in their richly appointed limousines, playing golf on impossibly fluffy grass lawns, giving speeches while frothing at the mouth. Makes me feel like such a loser!
Reminds me of that incredible line from my once role model (unfortunately demoted later on due to the biggest mistake of his life that he made at the end, sorry die hard fans, but that’s just not right), Anthony Bourdain. He said “I did everything my mother told me not to do. And it’s been great!” Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Ok, now I’m likely to plunge into some really frothy (as in at the mouth) philosophical diatribe about the impossible grip of middle class mentality and motherly advice and so on, so I guess I should stop here and let you get back to your fluffy yet rich “daulat ki chaat”. Well, for those of you not currently in the great fluffy North of India, at least on (non-blotting) paper. (Well, that particular type of pressed pulp is mostly fiction now – and the trees thank you for that – so a cold and tough and hard screen will have to do. Just don’t read or watch anything on it your mother won’t approve of. Well, unless you want to be a rich bad boy.)