Ammaji

Hello! Welcome to Barefoot Baobab’s blog! Today we are going to talk about love, mothers, and food. To take us on this journey, we will follow our friends’ Ammaji as she prepares a simple, yet divine meal at their home in Bangalore. In my understanding, Amma is a Hindi title given to mothers. It symbolizes a mother’s love, care, and selfless giving in order to nurture the children in her care (be they hers or someone else’s.)

Idli (soft rice flour cakes)

I had never had freshly-made idli before coming Bangalore. It is a food you can eat with sauces, curries, vegetables; much like you can use ugali, foofoo, or polenta. I wasn’t present for their preparation, but I was for the following…

Ammaji cleaning greens with a helper

I looked at Ammaji with astonishment as she gracefully sat on the ground and cleaned the greens with no humphs, sighs, or an energy of complaint. All I felt from Ammaji (the entire time I was there) was love.

Adding onions, garlic, chillies, grated coconut, salt & other spices, the greens were put in a pot and on the stove. Everything was fresh. The grated coconut reminded me of grating them in Tanzania. The love and dedication that go into preparing a fresh & wholesome meal for the family, on a daily basis, are quite something. I am a mom and I cannot count on my two hands the times I have resorted to feeding the children cereal for dinner, or letting them have a Snacks Day (which made me the best mom ever in my children’s point of view!) I am typically pretty conscious about healthy food choices, but still, I don’t use 100% fresh ingredients every time I cook.

Millet flour dish

I remember when my mom fed me polenta for the first time in Italy. I thought it (and beans were) a poor-man’s meal and so I stuck my nose up and judged it as being…not enough. Through the years, as I ate it with succulent pomodoro sauces, I learned that it was tasty; something I didn’t really admit to my mom. In Tanzania I was introduced to ugali, which was also a poor-man’s food (No one explicitly said that to me.) In an effort to not appear bougie, I ate ugali pretty early on… I am guessing I fought it a bit, but never at friends’ or family’s homes. As a grown up I realized it’s all a simple food, not a poor person’s food. In the U.S. I have seen polenta being served with some pancetta, tomato sauce & spinach for over $15 dollars; while it is a $3 or $4 dollar meal.

What you see above is a millet-flour equivalent of ugali & them. It is healthier than corn or wheat. If you’ve ever made ugali or foofoo you know it is no small feat. Your arms and core will definitely get a good workout (if you’re making a small batch.) Again, Ammaji showed a love & dedication that was simple yet physically-involved, and much appreciated.

The Complete Meal

After Ammaji was done cooking, my friend served us the complete meal as seen in the photograph above. The first thing I noticed about my first meal in the United States of America, was how big the serving was. Given, my friends took me to a Cheesecake Factory, but still, (U.S.) American portions are rather large. No judgement. Just facts. LOL. Having said that, this plate might seem more like an assortment of appetizers, to some, but it was actually perfectly satisfying. I believe it was a combination of the freshness of the ingredients and the love pouring into the food from the beginning to the end.

By the way… if you noticed a small brown thing on the right side of the plate, it is a small wooden block that allows the plate to tilt in one direction, so as to keep the liquids from touching foods you want to keep dry. Cool, right?

Thank you for stopping by and hanging out with my friends and me.

Have a beautiful day!

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