"What is for dinner I say?" shouts my neighbour Santhanam as his wife Selvi is busy listening to the song "Kaadal Vanduduchu" from the film Kalyanaraman.
Selvi says 'Go and get something from Saravana Bhavanam'.
Santhanam gets shirty and he shouts "Sugamillai....! I want an explanation immediately I say!"
He adds, "Can't you see I am watching the match between India Srilanka? You are talking as if Saravana Bhavanam is waiting for us at 11.00PM to take our orders!"
Then she says "Thair sadam with pickles. I can make that now".
I hear Santhanam shout at his peak "Chumma iradaa! Get lost I say!".
That is exactly the scenario, when both husband and wife work and are left with no option to prepare anything at the last moment they get hungry, wife not ready to make any curry and husband not ready to adjust!
When I talk about restaurant, there are many that can send take away home but our Santhanam and Selvi are orthodox Tamil Brahmins with a 'Pure Veg' board printed on their forehead since they were born!
Listening to those couple struggling to decide what to cook and how to go about it, I intervened and asked Santhanam "Look Santhanam. You want any veg curry with chapathis or with rice?"
Santhanam had a ray of hope and his face brightened! He said "Saar we normally eat chapathis and curry at night but my wife is not in the mood to cook I say. She is lazy now and is suggesting thair sadam and pickles. Whatever you say that goes with chapathis. I can make chapathis but I am poor at cooking curry!"
I whispered something in his ears. He nodded, I left the place and within 10 mins, the neighbourhood started smelling good! Santhanam was never happier before and Selvi told my wife the next day "Your husband came like saakshaat Aandavar amma! He saved me from being sent to my parents' home by my angry husband!"
Try this quick recipe of Tomato Fry that has saved many marriages since I formulated the dish in the Eighties, and you may also bring a smile on many sad faces!
Tomatoes - 2 chopped
Onions - 2 sliced
Urad Daal - 1Tsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 Tsp
Curry leaves - A Sprig
Oil - 2 Tsp
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 Tsp
Sambar powder - 1 Tsp
Salt - To taste
Coriander leaves - Two sprigs chopped(Optional)
Heat oil in a kadai.
Prepare a seasoning with mustard seeds, urad daal and curry leaves.
Add the sliced onions and fry till transparent.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fry till they become mushy.
Add the chilly powder, salt to taste and sambar powder.
Fry till the masalas blend well and a nice aroma emanates.
Switch off the flame and garnish with optional chopped coriander leaves.
Serve with lemon wedge, as accompaniment with rotis, chapathis or phulkas.
Disclaimer: Both the characters mentioned here are fictitious but I formulated this dish myself when I was a bachelor back in the Eighties.