Coming from the eastern region of India, Kolkata to be specific ‘Luchi’ is something quite dear to me. To the uninitiated, ‘Luchi’ is a food item, made out of flour specifically, round and fluffy, deep fried in oil. In other parts of India it is referred to as a ‘Puri’, a cousin of ‘Luchi’, as ‘Puri’ is mostly made out of wheat. If you are wondering whether this is healthy? Well! Not by any rational explanation, considering that it is deep fried and made of flour.
However, my post is not about discussing the health benefits or the lack of it, of ‘Luchi’. My post is about Luchi.
So, there I was frying some Luchis, trying to prepare a meal for my children, they love it too! The faint aroma and the sight of it brought back memories of another day. Another time when I was a little girl myself.
Some days I would hop onto the school bus only to be told by the bus driver that I was being dropped off at my grandmother’s place (maternal grandmother). I would be delighted to hear it. The reason being Luchi! Didima (my gran) would mostly prepare them if she knew any one of her children or grand children were visiting her. The trip to her house was a gastronomic delight.
She is a woman of habits and discipline, so lunch would be served only after I had taken a shower and changed into fresh clothes. The whole process was a Luchi day- dreaming exercise!
After the essential things done, I would hop onto the table. Sometimes food would be laid out in advance. It was a spread. There would be around 7 to 8 items on the plate, all in small portions obviously, and there would be Luchi. White and round, just like a small tennis ball. She was a great cook, her style vastly different from my mother’s. I loved eating the food she cooked and she gave us the whole variety. There would be vegetables, dal, greens (yes I ate them too!),fish and sweets of course along with rice and Luchi. The aromas from the plate was heavenly and I did feel like a Queen being served a lavish meal.
This was not my meal plan at home at all, this was gran’s house’s many delights! Now at that time my grandfather was also alive and he was the sweetest man around, sweet in all possible literal sense. He had a sweet demeanour and loved sweets and indulged us (grandkids) to the hilt.
During the summer holidays in school, sometimes my cousin would come over to stay at my grandparents and I would join him. That meant playing all the time, we would play away hot, sweaty afternoons as the fan whirred slowly above us, completely oblivious to the heat. Then from a distance came the sound of the ice-cream cart, a man’s voice shouting ‘ICE CREEEEEEEEEAM’, that was our wake up call. We would rush to our grandfather, who was napping, wake him up and demand ice cream. The sweet man that he was, he never protested and gave us money to rush down the stairs and stop the cart, to buy ice-cream.
What followed was the next few minutes of glee as we licked off ice cream from a stick while our grandfather watched us amused. He would often sit down to play a game of cards, mostly solitaire. He would spend hours playing them by himself, completely unruffled by the chaos we were creating around him.
Luchi, yes! that was the trigger. It took me away from my present and gave me a peek into my childhood. A childhood in my maternal grandparents house, my grandfather died long back but my grandmother is still alive. A very frail woman living in a retirement home. To see her or even think of her like this fills me with sadness, such is old age! She is now a shadow of the woman she used to be, strong, assertive and very capable. Her cooking skills long gone, her house where we visited her often, long sold. Sigh!
So, as I fry my Luchis, I wish I could serve my children such a wonderful spread as I was treated to. Alas! Present day lifestyle prohibits such a thought. While the Luchi fries and puffs up, sending an aroma with another wave of nostalgia, in barges my child…………..