Thanda, mtDNA : food, genetically charged

my grandmother

We called her Ammamma, literally meaning, mothers' mother -- Amma's Amma. A very generous and loving person, she was a lady in every way. Like most grandmothers, cooking was one way in which she shared her love. And she made delicious food, mainly typical Kerala/Malayali food. She was an expert at preserving and pickling our local fruits, vegetables, and also meat and fish, on a large scale. She used to send me huge baskets and tins of homemade snacks when I was in school. Even after my marriage, she sent me wonderful, well-packaged food. Even the oil I used to apply on my hair was made by her, from native herbs and such. I am sad to realize that many of those recipes and methods have gone, almost totally, at least from my family, when she passed away. No one outside our extended family knew her or have tasted her food. On the whole I have to admit that she was taken for granted, like many mothers. I wonder what or who she would have been, had she lived in another clime, in another time... .As it is, I think it is high time I acknowledged her legacy, which continues in her daughter, my mother, who is equally adept at creating that perfect culinary magic . I want to pay my respects to and express my gratitude to all those  gracious, resourceful and creative mothers who ever made a dish for their families.

In case you are wondering about the old description of the blog, "food down the mtDNA line", it is just a cheesey way of saying that this blog is mainly about recipes passed down the maternal line. The mitochondrial DNA, as we know, is passed through the mother. I found it greatly fascinating when I learned that around 60,000 years ago, my maternal ancestor roamed the plains of Central Asia.  My Nazrani lineage fits beautifully with that.  The patriarchal culture, through its various structures, customs and traditions, has always tried and succeeded to a large extent, to keep the mother-daughter bond in a weakened state.  However, the girls have always found ways and means to circumvent all that without shouting it from the rooftops. . Food is one area where the female sisterhood wins. And enter Thanda's "kushini", as I have heard women  speak of the kitchen. So, in here, in Thanda's cucina,  you will find nazrani recipes along with other Indian recipes. I would like to take it further, outside the borders of India, of course.

And now ,the kooky part. In Malayalam, words in the feminine gender enter in the "ie" / "ee" sound. so, the feminine of cook becomes cookie, but I am no cookie, smart or otherwise, so I am cooky. :)Ya, just to say it's fun. playin'/plain fun.

My mom