A couple of weekends ago, we went to visit my parents for a few days. It was the beginning of what felt like the holiday season to us, because it was the first time we had a big extended family with the newest two additions in the family, my precious niece known affectionately as Pumpkin and her twin cutie, nicknamed Chunky. They are fraternal twins and just a few months old—but their presence brought livelihood and lovely chaos to a family setting that previously felt…smaller…and quieter…and perhaps even incomplete.
We bustled in, my husband and I and the girls on that Friday afternoon, with more luggage than my sister with the twins! Who would believe we should have more paraphernelia for a weekend than a couple with newborns?!?! I guess I’ve never been a minimalist, even when it comes down to food.
My mother however, is a minimalist, and she had just set the dinner table with an assortment of styrofoam products (yikes!) and a hodgepodge of warming wintery simple eats, like Gujarati khichi (not KHICHRI), doused with oil and a piquant chili pepper blend crimson as Christmas. She served muthhiya, with a marmalade-like condiment, called gol-kari, which people in the old days acutally used to make by hand! Now mom buys it in a jar at the Indian market. You gotta get your hands on some of that stuff: pieced unripe mango in a mesh of spices and sweet jaggery . On the table was a saucepan full of Mom’s sought-after tomato soup, hers a boxed organic tomato version,
adulterated accentuated with her touch: curry leaf and a smidgen of spice.
Famished, I heaved my body down at the table after quickly removing my coat and shoes and cast a quick hello to everyone (the twins were asleep). I gorged with the muthiyaa first dipping into the gol-kari, then I had a steaming portion of khichi, followed by bowl after bowl of that tomato soup. It’s the kind of soup that is familiar all the way, but at the end, there is a twinge of “Hmmm, what is that I’m tasting? What is that flavor that elevates this soup to something special?” I couldn’t get enough of the soup that day.
The next week, back at my own home, I wanted more. So I made my own non-minimalist version in my non-minimalist kitchen with all the whole ingredients and no boxes. Sadly, and happily?, both versions taste the same. Box or no box, I beg you to try my recipe for tomato soup with curry leaves.