My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll



Sign up for my newsletter: The Internet Personified

30 January 2018

Hello, Khaan E Khaaaaas?

(This appeared in The City Story a while ago)
(Here's another post (sorta) about Khaan e Khaas as well)

I've always been a Delhi-ite by fate and geography. A “Delhicacy” if you will. I never had my year abroad like all my friends seemed to do straight from undergrad to a post-graduate degree somewhere cold, where they learned life skills and how to speak precisely when they wanted something. I stayed fluttering and vague, making long jazz hands mixed with ballet arms when I couldn't correctly express what I wanted to convey. Delhi was where I moved to at three weeks old, after having been born in my mother's hometown in Hyderabad, and Delhi was where I stayed ever since—till the time I was twenty five.

And then I moved to Bombay on a whim. This was my “year abroad,” as foreign a place to me as Warwick or Hamburg or New York were to my friends. I entered the city with my eyes wide, gazing up at the big buildings where someone's light was always on, no matter what time of night. I learned to navigate a system completely alien to the one I knew. I was only one thousand three hundred and eighty four kilometres away from home, but it felt as new to me as it must have done for Vasco Da Gama arriving south of where I was a few centuries ago.

Of course I loved it. What 25 year old woman wouldn't? I was free, anonymous and cavorting about the city at a rate that belied my rapidly dwindling finances. (Turns out journalism isn't the kind of job that lets you not only live without roommates but also eat in fancy places, so Carrie Bradshaw lied to us all.) However, I had moments of abject loneliness. I dreamt real estate dreams—where one of the rooms of my tiny shared flat had a hidden door, and when I opened it, I saw more rooms, more space. Sometimes, I ordered kaali daal three days in a row, just for that Delhi feeling, only to get a Gujju, Maharashtrian or foreigner-spiceless version of it. I wanted the food I had grown up with, because sometimes you long for comfort food, and the only thing that can ease your homesickness is a kebab roll without a whole lot of masala in it—just a smear of green chutney, onions on the side, thanks.

It was one of those Sunday afternoons, on a particularly blue Missing Delhi day that I discovered Khaan-e-Khaas. Maybe “discovered” is the wrong word, after all, friends had been feeding me their prawn biryani in the middle of the night for several months. What I wanted though was a Sunday afternoon feeling, and how do you translate that into a menu? Turns out you can. While perusing the dishes on offer (long before Zomato, I used the paper version that came with a bag of home delivery) I found Punjabi mutton curry. Two years of finding kari-patta in all my curries, whether North, South or Chinese had made me wary, but I decided to give it a go anyway.



Reader, I married it. Okay, not quite literally, but this, this was what my soul and my stomach had been crying out for. It was so authentic, I had probably only eaten versions at friends homes, it came with hot steamed basmati rice, and plump potatos cooked in the gravy, the mutton so tender, it fell off the bone. I ate a big lunch, all on my own, and then napped all afternoon, the humid air outside feeling almost like I was in the middle of a Delhi summer with a water cooler rumbling in the corner of the room, the evocative smell of khus making dreams even sweeter.

I held that mutton curry as a secret weapon when Bombay got too much, and if you've lived there for a long time, you know the too much I refer to. I grew to love the sound of the male voice on the other end of the phone when I called to order, “Hello Khaan-e-Khaas?” saying it almost musically. My friends stuck to the rolls and the biryani, and I didn't think that mutton curry was for sharing anyway. It belonged to my own personal private store of memories, home food when you're away from home, a South Indian lady with Punjabi cravings in Maharashtra.

No comments:

Post a comment

Thanks for your feedback! It'll be published once I approve it. Inflammatory/abusive comments will not be posted. Please play nice.