The fifth morning of lockdown.
We are getting used to blissful time-stop-still mornings – sublime calm, glorious birdsong, MS Subbulakshmi wafting in from floors above, only to be punctuated by innocent giggles of kids or the raucous shrill of a pressure-cooker whistle.
S has started grumbling (albeit, mildly) over the lunches and dinners sans fish, the freezer unfortunately is empty, the wet markets have long been shut and the e-marts that do deliver fish are yet to re-establish their supply lines.
It’s not all gloom and doom though.
The vegetable shop continues to have fresh produce on offer.
The grocery store is reasonably well stocked.
And S even got country fowl (yes you heard it right, not the usual poultry ones which he is far from being a fan of) from his usual store yesterday.
Disaster strikes this morning though when I halve the raw papaya that S had got home last evening, only to reveal orange – white speckled guts, the papaya is eminently past the phase when it is perfect for cooking, however not ripe enough yet to savour as fruit.
SOS call to Maa.
Really don’t know what to do with this papaya Maa. And it would be criminal to waste food. That too in turbulent times as these.
You got some chicken yesterday, did you not tell me last evening ?
Yes we did, I acknowledge.
Make a Jeere Morich diye Murgir Jhol. It tastes even more delicious when cooked with about-to-ripen papayas.
Oh yes, I now remember, recollecting the light summery chicken stew Maa would prepare when we would have abundance of papaya in the backyard and despite Manikkakas discerning eye on which papaya had started to ripen, there would still be those unlucky few that when cut open would reveal a blemish of crimson-orange.
And that was lunch.
Maas Jeere-Morich diye Murgir Jhol. And piping hot rice. The sweetness of the papaya perfectly balanced by the tart of green mangoes and the heat of black pepper.
Jeere-Morich diye Murgir Jhol. Light summer chicken curry. Chunks of papaya. The tart of green mangoes. The earthy comfort of cumin. The wicked fury of pepper. No onions. No garlic.
This is comfort food at its best !!!