Two to three months back, I started to draft this article dealing with the topical subject of the monotonically increasing prices of tomatoes. Totally flabbergasted by the high headedness of tomatoes, I had titled the article ‘The Tomato Exoticism’. Since it lay in my draft folder for quite some time, I had feared that this one too would lose relevance and share its fate with the other members of the sad group of expired articles. But thanks to our very dependable government and the inexplicable mayhem of inflation and wroth economics, this article still stands relevant! And at the risk of sounding cruel, one could almost say that the article even got a shot in the arm because the onions joined the tomatoes in an expensive game of one-upmanship. Yes, and that’s how the humble, commonplace, unsung ‘Tadka‘ acquired its nouveau exoticism! (For the uninitiated, a ‘tadka’ is an amalgam of tomatoes, onions and a few spices added in oil and is imperative to a plethora of Indian/Indianized dishes.)
Since childhood, we have heard and read about weird things breaking long standing curses (e.g. a kiss from a princess has been known to turn a frog into a prince!!). Hence, I’m doing my bit here. Since the government seems to be in no hurry to rein in the runaway prices of the tomatoes and the onions, I think it’s only fair that I should take a chance and and see if this post can break the curse.
My dadi (paternal grandmom) was a beautiful, rosy, chirpy woman who doted on the whole family, more so on her grandchildren. She loved nibbling on sugar-sprinkled tomatoes or on tomatoes roasted over charcoals and would invite us all to share. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it then but in retrospect, I realize how stupid I was! Yes, I should have had my fill of tomatoes and onions while I still had the chance!
Given the current state of things, you stand the danger of being labelled a snob if you discuss more than three tadka-based recipes at a go. Yes, I even heard about the addition of a new filter (viz. ‘Sans Tadka’) to some recipe-sharing blogs and websites. The ‘haut monde’ has deigned to include this topic in their chit-chat and the freeloaders have found a new zeal to look for their next free meal. Visiting the vegetable market no more remains a quotidian activity. You don’t just stroll in with a friend and pick this and that, not caring twopence about the pennies and dimes jingling in your pockets. No, Sir! This undistinguished chore has lately been exalted and now demands respect, inspires anxiety and even extorts a prayer or two!
With these staple items acquiring the status of edible gems, we have taken another giant leap towards anarchy. And I hope I have not disappointed you by not providing a solution to this problem because no, this one does not have a happy ending. Let’s just pull off what we’re best at – making peace with things.
Hang in there and take care!