So, well, the weather was fantastic, just a light drizzle that bestowed a brisk coolness to the early morning air. I was out on a rare morning walk near my place in Dhapakhel in Lalitpur. The road climbed gradually upwards, a gentle incline, and I was feeling really great. It was such a nice thing to be out in the world, the real world as compared to the virtual world we all live in today; a couple of black mongrels on the prowl, a temple with a peepal tree around whose sturdy trunk was built a pati, and which was my favorite resting place on the rare occasions I took a walk, simple-looking folks walking by, trees and other greenery lining the roadside…really, it’ a blessing to be alive, that’s what always goes through my mind at such moments.
So, well, this time, I walked for quite a while, and what do you know, a gnawing in the pit of my stomach signaled the beginning of a well-earned hunger. So, I turned back, my sights set on a small eatery nearby that looked pretty promising. Behind the glass-fronted counter was a middle-aged lady of generous girth, while her youngish husband was making samosas in one corner. The cauldron was big and black, and the samosas were frying nicely in the pool of sizzling hot oil. On the counter was a large tray of mouth-watering jeris, another had thin, glistening swaris, and a huge covered pan presumably contained the tarkari that is served with the samosas and the swaris. And yes, one tray had deep brown halwa.
So, well, I was all in for a traditional jeri-swari and tarkari breakfast. Long time since I had one, actually. I usually have toast and eggs most mornings. But, today was different. It was back to younger days, when jeri-swari and tarkari was what all locals of this blessed valley started their day with. The jeri was still warm, and as I took an eager bite, the rich syrup trickled down on my plate. Nothing can beat the sheer delight of a warm jeri, absolutely nothing! I wrapped one of the thin white swaris around a delectable jeri, and I tell you, as my teeth sank into this combination of heavenly bliss, my mind went into a state of deep meditation!
Just so you know, one sweet dish after another is an experience not to be taken lightly. The big spoonful of halwa tasted so smooth and comfortably sweet, it really highlighted the sharp sweetness of the jeri I had before. Now, with all this oodles of sweetness on my palate, it was time to dip into the tarkari, a warm watery curry of green peas. I have sometimes tried to make such a tarkari at home, but never succeeded in attaining the delicate balance of spiciness, nor a similar wateriness! Somehow, this very quality makes the tarkari so meaningful, adding value to the peas all afloat in regal splendor.
It is actually the samosa that makes such a tarkari seem to be so perfect an accompaniment. Now, here and now, let me admit that samosa is not a part of the traditional valley breakfast, but man, when you see it all sizzling and turning warm-rich brown in the pool of hot oil, you simply cannot resist ordering a few. That’s what I did. I am a big fan of fat, well-made samosas, and I cannot forgo any opportunity to have some straight and hot from the cauldron. And, while a tomato chutney or sauce is very fine with a samosa, a tarkari is usually what you’ll get. The two get along like a house on fire (perhaps this is not a very good metaphor, but they are great to have side by side).
If you grew up in the valley, you’ll probably be agreeing to all I’m saying, and most probably, you will have been transported back to the days when jeri-swari and tarkari was what gave everyone’s day a great start. It still does, believe you me!