Mami (Maa me) in Tamil is auntie. In India, people older than you are called auntie and uncle. I have reached an age now where I am aunty too.😊 I think I met Gomathi mami for the first time in Chicago or Iowa City over 20 years ago. She was visiting her daughter, Lakshmi. Her family and my husband’s family have been family friends for a long time. Lakshmi has taken after her mother in cooking. She visited us in Iowa City and decided to make laddoos for me since they were my favorite. She loves to cook and this was 20 years ago, a much younger mami with a lot more energy. She made a huge box for me.
When we moved to Bangalore, she moved to Bangalore from Delhi to be closer to her daughter. Her apartment was close to ours so we visited her often. We made it a point to go see her at least once a week. She would cook different varieties of snacks and distribute them to her neighbors; every Friday they would have a special puja (religious function) and she would make the prasadam (food to be offered to the god and then to the people). Every time, we visited her, she always had something to eat. In the last few years, she has become weaker and does not cook. On one of those visits, I asked her how to make karuvapillai thogayal which I had eaten and it was delicious. I recorded her recipe so I can reproduce it. In the recipe, her measurements are approximate as she said a handful of that and this.
She also gave me the recipe for pulikachal which is a tamarind thokku or paste which is mixed with rice to make puliodarai. I am lazy and usually buy the MTR puliodarai paste which I just mix with rice for a quick dish. But I cannot see mami buying the paste. The puli inji is another tamarind condiment that stays for at least a week and can be eaten with curd rice (yogurt rice) or bread.
You can listen to our conversation here with all the recipes. I am writing up the curry leaf thogayal here.
- 1 packed cup curry leaves, rinsed
- 2 tbsp urad dal
- 2 tbsp channa dal
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida
- 4-5 dried red chillies
- 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (or a 2 inch piece of tamarind soaked in 2 tsp of hot water- squeeze tamarind and use the pulp and discard the tamarind pieces)
- salt to taste
- In a pan, heat oil
- Add urad dal and channa dal and fry on low flame for 2 minutes. add chillies and asafoetida keep frying till the dals are golden brown. Be careful not to burn the dals
- Grind the above into a powder and set aside
- Grind curry leaves with the tamarind paste to a thick paste. Mix the powders into the paste
- Store in airtight bottle and store in refrigerator
- Serve with hot rice and ghee ( 1tbsp thogayal for 1/2 cup cooked rice and a tsp of ghee) or curd/yogurt rice