I am not an ad person.
I don't need page 3 type exposures to bring people to the food table. No fancy food poses, unusually shaped containers or complicated artistic procedures with a history of culinary malfunctions.
To me, "plating" has always been about covering something with something else, as in silver, coated in , say, 1 gram gold; and not about some sauce leaving scratchy foot prints across a white plate, while some lettuce and mint balances itself precariously on what was once a part of a chicken , sitting in the centre of the plate, watched by the disgusted french fries.
It is about someone coming home at noon, hot in the mid-day sun, splashing water on the face, and standing under a ceiling fan before been drawn to the meal.
The aroma of Ambemohor rice, as all the grains huddle together, puffed with confidence, in a winning skirmish in hot water . Their emergence on to the table, amidst a steam studded opening, followed by an excited Lady Ghee, in a translucent golden trance.
A much heralded arrival of of the self obsessed Saadha Varan, quietly searching for lemon pieces, salt sprinkles, and other chamchaas. A great meeting, or as Nikhil Wagle of IBN Lokmat would say, a Great Bhet , with the rice, a churning of the two, watched with great interest by the lemon pickle, nudged by the papad types, curling cynically, and wondering how much more fuss was happening.
And then it is almost like a Durbar.
With folks sitting to the left and right of the centre. As is the custom .
Cucumbers with their immense Cool Quotient, in a homogenous coalition with chilly coriander item number types, sometimes accompanied by the Moongfali Dadas, with their ambitions roasted and crushed. Occasionally dahi or yogurt plays peacemaker, and results in a very Khamang Kaakdi. Clearly displays certain leftist tendencies in the seating in the Durbar.
Boiled, scrubbed, potato pieces, having emerged from a Traumatic Tadka Trial, in the company of of the Kadhipata and Mirchi ladies, comforted by the Dhaniya-Lemon juice gang, trying to cool things down, and they all go through some stirring emotions, before appearing in the Durbar. That too, on the right side, clearly tongue tickling in attitude, giving superior looks to the proletarian leftist Kakdis.
And then , the pièce de resistance.
Hot, spotted, Jowar Bhakris, having emerged through a trial by fire on the stovetop, opening up and showing heart , at the thought of meeting white butter , that has been waiting anxiously , ever since it escaped from the buttermilk folks.
They arrive where the rice once was, and settle down with a sigh, awaiting the Pithla girls. Both of them , the Bhakri and Pithla, have always been a pair, and played together in harmony.
Pithla. A languorous , brightly yellow, sunny, spicy, almost burning, thick confabulation of Besan and water, thickening the mystery, in traditional cast iron premises, supervised by the standard adrak-lasoon, onion mirchi union, sometimes blessed with old dried red chilly grandmas.
A lovely meal, happening in real time, with Bhakris arriving every four minutes, al a Mumbai Metro, avidly waiting to meet the Pithla and Khamang Kakdi show stoppers.
Sometimes, some independent chutney and pickle types make it to the Durbar too, and cause a bit of heart burning.
But not to worry.
Like the Speaker of the august Durbar, always a lady, Her Sweet Tanginess, Madame Taak (often called Chhaas by some) is always there, to cool things down , by the glass. "Please, please, relax, sit down ....please please..."
Of course , occasionally there is a protest by some folks like Shrikhand who think they should have been invited.
To this Durbar.
Yes, the Durbar. With the members resplendent in their special containers from Borosil.
The Rice, Deep in the Round Casserole with lid.
Saadha Varan, a bit more square and conservative, comfortable in a Square Dish with Lid to keep the flavours in.
Khamang Kaakdi, true to its modern attitude, at peace in a Designer Bowl Set.
The Potato sabji , very aware of its position in the meal, insisting on sitting in the Grill and Drop Round Casserole.
The Pithla girls insisting on arriving in the Mini Oval Dish set to meet the Bhakris.
The Bhakris, of course, preferring to rest on arrival , for a short period, in the Fluted Dish.
Eyed jealously, by the lemons pieces, pickles and salt resident in the mini Square Dish Set .
And how can we forget the White Butter, and Golden Ghee , quietly sitting side by side, in the Baby Gourmet Bowls Set, waiting for the lead players to arrive.
And finally, a Vision Jug, to hold, the very visionary and wise Madame Taak.
But in the fitness of things, this really is all about the Aam Meal .
Imbibed by folks all across my state, whether on the 30th floor of a highrise, or a small one room enclosure alongside a village field.
May or may not make it to Master Chef or Paris or whatever.
But will, always , without fail, make it, to the hearts and stomachs, of those who slurp and enjoy the simplest of meals.....
* Jevan ~ Marathi for "meal"
(Submitted as an entry for the Borosil-Indiblogger "My Beautiful Food" Contest. )