(click on pic for recipe)
There are those whose memories are linked to sight and smell. Not me. My remembrance is curiously connected to my taste buds. A familiar taste often triggers a total recall. Like it happened the other day. I had made 'vengaya sambar' like I usually do and one sip was all it took to send me reeling back to my childhood. Back then, vengaya sambar was a rarity. A dish reserved for occasional Sundays or when we had guests over for dinner. We'd clamour for the tiny onions that swam in a sea of delicious lentil broth. It was strictly rationed and I'd tuck my share of onion away in one corner of my mouth and savour it at leisure.
I still remember the one time when I was 19, I was to come home after a 6-month long exchange program when mother asked me what I'd like for my welcome-home lunch. I replied without hesitation, "vengaya sambar". I only have to close my eyes and I can recall instantly the taste of tangy sambar as it slid down my parched throat reviving every taste bud in its path.
I'm not due back home for another 8 months. But I already know what I'm going to have for lunch that day.
*This is my tribute to one of Tamil cinema's best-loved heroes, Gemini Ganesan, who passed away yesterday. He used to be referred to as 'Sambar', much to his chagrin.