Thursday, 29 November 2012

Towards more picturesque speech

Picture rice- aka Chitranna (चित्रान्ना) or Raw Mango Rice

As a family, we initiate, use and perpetuate so many memes; only we don’t know them as memes. For that matter, I am not sure if what I am going to talk about can be classified as memes, but what’s the harm in using this catchword!

A meme is a very broad term to talk about an idea or behaviour that is spread from one generation to another within a culture, one’s family and other likeminded families – there you go! That’s a paraphrased definition from the Internet for you…

A meme we indulge in as a family is naming dishes, or using inherited, coined names of dishes - with little or no explanation from our elders. It’s funny how these will continue into the next generation, with new members almost instinctively gleaning the meaning!

Acronyms abound, and Kachiko (kakdi chi koshimbir aka cucumber salalad) sachikhi (sabudanya chi khichadi) bhochabha (bhoplyachey bharit aka pumpkin raita) pupo (puran poli) encode more than the meaning, they represent the longing, fondness, appreciation or nostalgia of the users.

Then there are those phrases coined by family kids such as ‘dot-dot-kheer’ (semolina phirni), ‘line-line kheer’ (vermicelli kheer or sevaiyyan) and ‘ball-ball kheer’ (sago kheer). 

Pickle has been called ‘litttle’ since the time my then two-year old thought it was the name of the preserve, as family members would insist on being served ‘only a lllitttle’ – notice the stress! 

My girls dislike ridged gourd for its slimy green appearance, so it is invariably referred to as ‘alien chi bhaji’. 

Words misspelt and mispronounced in childish lisps and scrawls or regional variations gain immortality, so bananas are fondly called bannu, tomatoes of a certain rustic seed-and-skin only variety are invariably called ‘tambatey’, and in the company of old friends we go out of our way to use the Hyderababdi variation beenees (French beans). 

And green peas have been ‘Gingittu’ ever since a friend's child was heard using this word.

Some words have morphed punnily – dhoklas are either fluffy or thoklas (dense blocks), idlis that are dense tread the dangerous line of being ‘deadly’, and a rock hard dahi wada is branded dahi banda (banda- stone).

These are some of the more admissible and harmless ones; I am itching to write some more unmentionable and consequently hugely hilarious ones, but shall desist for the sake of decorum.

Metaphors are a must. Horribly hot and spicy curries are classified ‘Hazchem’. If someone hurriedly hogs hot food and gets burnt, they have had an ‘Amsterdam’ after a similar incident in the city years ago, when one of us bit into very hot pizza and didn’t know whether to continue to chew on or spit it out, and in this dilemma let the melted mozzarella scald the mouth!

Translations bring in some more fun. Varan-phal is referred to as ‘fruits’. Sugar packet is when Marathi couples get engaged. But the most picturesque is chitranna referred to as ‘picture-rice’.  So simple, so striking and so apt!

It’s not for naught that we read the feature “Towards more picturesque speech” in the Reader’s Digest for years! 

Chitranna (Raw Mango Rice)

Chitranna is a flavoured rice dish from Karnataka, very popular in parts of Maharashtra and Andhra as well. When in season, raw mangoes are used and I love the mango version! Chitranna is a great favourite at our poojas for Prasad and ‘Naivedya’ or offering, as it does not have onions or garlic. 
Since it’s really not a hot dish, it is ideal for summers and makes a great picnic dish, too!

Years ago, someone in our family had jokingly remarked that chitranna literally means ‘picture rice’ and it’s been called that since then!


2 cups basmati rice  water to cook the rice (about 4 cups should do) 
2 tablespoon roasted channa dal  
1 table spoon split urad dal 
½ cup raw peanuts- microwaved in their skins for I minute to aid quick and correct frying 
1 teaspoon mustard seeds  
3-4 tablespoon canola or peanut oil  
¾ teaspoon Turmeric  
¼ teaspoon hing 
3-4 chopped green chillies 
8-10 curry leaves  
Salt to taste 
2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut  
¾ teaspoon ginger paste 
4-5 tablespoon finely grated raw mango
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves 


Cook rice with about 3 ½ or 4 cups water and a pinch of salt. When done, fluff the rice with a fork and spread it in a large dish to cool.

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and urad dal. By the time the mustard seeds splutter, the urad dal should turn golden (take care not to burn the dal). Add the peanuts and fry them for a few seconds, then add green chillies, curry leaves, roast chana dal (requires less frying time) hing and turmeric powder. Sauté for 10 seconds. Turn the heat off.

Add, grated coconut, finely grated raw mango and a little lemon juice (only if required) ginger paste and salt and mix well. This is your basic oil/spice/condiment mixture (gojju) or sauce mix. The best way to into infuse this gojju into the rice is to mix it with your hands, mashing slightly as you work it into the rice!

It’s best eaten at room temperature with chutney or kosambiri or pickle and papad.

1 comment:

  1. wow gotta try this one...especially with the mango season coming up...nice blog..cheers!


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