Of “Jugaad”, Moving Home & Molag Chaatambd

Indians are famous for “jugaad” – I doubt there is a word in English or any other language that quite gives an exact meaning. Roughly it would translate to “making do without the right tools ” … or to put it more succinctly “necessity is the mother of invention” … what is lost is the spirit behind the act, the series of emotions – bafflement, eyes sparkling as  imagination takes over, the effort of exercising of brain cells and the complete joy of success.

The whole need for jugaad comes out of moments of desperation – real or perceived.

In the course of moving cities, countries, continents, such moments are often the lot of homemakers. We do not want to do it but we secretly enjoy the constant change in our lives. We hate to leave behind security, family, friends but secretly wonder at the adventures that await us …

So what brings me to this philosophy this Boxing Day? We have just moved countries. Our container loaded with our “household goods” is only expected in two to three months. We have a house comically empty. We are living out of suitcases which we brought along filled with the bare necessities of daily living. Some clothes, some geegaws with sentimental attachments and some “I cannot live without this” odds and ends. And a “moving kit” I have put together over the years.of-jugaad-moving-home-molag-chaatambd-2

In this interesting phase of live enters the flu!

The need for the age old home remedy for cold and cough – molag chaatambd, as we Hebbar Iyengar’s (more sometime on this little community of South India!) call it. It became fashionable and a delicacy internationally as mulligatawny soup – a sad watered down version of our home made slurrrpy brew that will beat every flu bug in the world!

It’s simple enough – a tsp of this powder, some seasoning and a couple of cups of water, boil and drink with or without milk!

BUT! The powder!

Like any Indian recipe (yes, I will share it with you!), a myriad of spices go into this dish. In specific proportion. Roasted to the right crispness. Ground to a certain fineness … wait! Ground? How do you grind something without any tools? No mortar and pestle of old, no spice grinder of new! Ah! Jugaad! Needs must!

Voila! Enter the tools – mini craft hammer, saucepan, kitchen paper and …  no. The kitchen towel was not a success. It blunted the force required to powder the spices! I took a chance on the marble top of the kitchen counter. The towel just became a splash of colour in this rather monochromatic photograph!of-jugaad-moving-home-molag-chaatambd-3

The powder is not fine enough for the purist in me. But for the spirit of Jugaad its good! It matches the imperfection of the slightly dented saucepan!

Soon the “soup” brews.of-jugaad-moving-home-molag-chaatambd-4

And now to retire with a mug full of this blissful magic potion! Cough, slurp, cough, slurp, slurp, snore!of-jugaad-moving-home-molag-chaatambd-5

The Recipe as handed down to me from my grandmother SubhadraBai Sri Sathyan via my mother Sudha SriSathyan Prasad. It varies from family to family and this is our version.

Molag Chaatambd (Molag / Milagu / Pepper Rasam / Mulligatawny Soup)

Dry roast and grind the following spices

Corriander Seeds 1 cup

Cumin Seeds 1/2 cup

Black Pepper 1/2 cup

Oregano Seeds / Ajwain 1/2 cup

Cinnamon Stick 2″

Cloves 4 – 5

Ginger Powder 1 tsp

Sieve the powder to blend well.

To make two cups of soup, boil 1 tsp of the powder with 1/4 tsp of turmeric and salt to taste in two cups of water. Simmer till it reduces by half.

Add one cup of warm milk / water to dilute the above decoction.

If you have the most awful flu, cough, fever, I highly recommend two slices of bread toasted directly on an open fire dipped in the above drink! A certain sloppiness is allowed when you have the flu!

If you want to give a new twist to your tomato soup, add the above powder instead of plain pepper and salt!

If you just want a drink to warm your soul – cheers!

It makes a great spice for a simple cabbage or cauliflower curry!

Healthy 2017, friends!