A few months after I started with my Post Graduation course outside Kerala we got our first holidays. It was my first experience of staying away from my family and I was super excited to head back home! Nothing during that age was better than having the lovely food prepared by my mom. Needless to say, she had prepared those stuff which I loved the most.
Quite a few dishes awaited me at the dining table and was anticipating an attack any moment. The saliva was creating Mexican waves in my mouth and soon enough I started with my most favourite dish. As soon as I took the first bite I could sense something wrong! My taste buds were on fire and the entire food pipe experienced an intense burning sensation. That’s when I truly realized how spicy the food back home was!
The few months I was away being deprived of mom’s food and my taste buds experiencing an almost bland food from the college hostel, the spices back home became unbearable. That’s when my dad told me this story about one of the boldest grandmothers we’d in the family who was a connoisseur of spicy food! Kunjammachy was her name.
Kunjammachy was far beyond her senior citizen age at that time and it had been a few years since her eye sight failed her. But her taste buds still rocked big time! She loved spices and wanted everything served to her really spicy. One day she got a chutney made by one of her granddaughters. The chutney made for Kunjammachy was already extra hot that usually the rest of the family wouldn’t even attempt to try that.
The chutney was served to Kunjammachy and she had a spoonful. What followed next was a rhetoric of blasting to her granddaughter citing that the chutney is nowhere near being spicy. A lecture followed as well on how to make real spicy chutney. The granddaughter was quite taken aback with the lashings and she went back to the kitchen, doubled the spice quotient and served the dish again.
A quick tasting of the chutney by Kunjammachy and what happened next was unprecedented. The granddaughter saw a ‘flying saucer’ coming right at her and sure enough it didn’t miss the target. Her forehead received a massive blow with the saucer in which she served the chutney. Just like thunder following lightning, promptly came the avalanche of yelling and screaming!
“That’s it!” The granddaughter said. She went out, right into the backyard and searched for a specific genre of chilli the name of which literally translates as ‘Cheek Buster’. You touch it with your bare hand and you’re done for a few days with extreme burning sensation from the chilli. The granddaughter was so miffed that she got a couple of those deadly chillies and grinded them along with the chutney and promptly placed it in front of Kunjammachy.
The eyes that couldn’t see twinkled! Kunjammachy’s senses became all alert. She took a spoonful and tasted a little bit of that fiercely spicy chutney. All what it took was a few moments before tears started rolling down those cheeks. Blood rushed to her face. Her whole body was heated up like crazy. The entire food pipe and the internal organs must’ve got a flash fire shower! She was absolutely shaken.
Surprisingly she didn’t stop there and in fact had a few more spoons of the chutney. Then came the statement, which from that day, became a folklore in the family.
She told her granddaughter these words, “Good one dear, now it is a little bit spicy at least!”