Powder Mixes are spicy powders of various flavours, that you can mix into cooked rice, and have as a meal. Truly, these are particularly a God-send, a virtual saviour for single people, staying away from their families, especially in a different country. These powder mixes, or Podi mixes, as we call them in Tamil, provide a great deal of variation in the daily meal and makes food interesting. I discovered its importance, when my younger brother left for the United States to pursue a career.
In pursuit of the Great American Dream
Before I go on, a bit about my growing-up years. Being the second youngest in a family of five brothers, and three sisters is a great feeling. Obviously you grow together, share life experiences together, and bond so well and strong that even a suggestion of separation from any of the siblings can be gut-wrenching. I have only one younger sibling, Anand, my brother. In the late nineties, he realized his Great American Dream and was preparing to leave for US. To me, it was not just a physical separation from my younger brother. It was letting go of a buddy, a partner in crime, confidante, sounding board, everything. I remember having given him an audio cassette on the day he was leaving – of Ali Haider’s “Purani Jeans aur Guitar”
, that spoke of a lifetime of memories. It was an emotional moment for me, and indeed, the entire family.
Food Ideas For The Singleton
Amma, my mother, though was not overly concerned about him going to the US. Amma’s biggest apprehension was about his food there. Clearly, my brother was not a big fan of burgers and pizzas, save the occasional indulgence. Also, he was not a great cook himself, apart from some basic stuff. As all good South Indians are, we loved our rice, in its countless varieties and avatars. But would that be possible in the US? Most likely not. Clearly, it was over to Amma now. Like her mother, Amma too was a versatile cook and you could trust her to come up with smart fixes. She was quick to come up with a smart, long lasting idea – the Podi, or powder mixes. Now podi or dry powder mixes were surely not her invention. But the fact is, that she presented it as a lifeline for a singleton, a bachelor, staying away from home. That was her genius.
Powder Mixes to the Rescue
Now, what are these powder mixes? Powder mixes are basically masala powders, created out of one central ingredient. They are dry, and so, depending on what the basic ingredient is, they stay fresh for anywhere between three weeks to two months. All you need to do is store these powder mixes in an airtight container, and a few weeks of your food, is taken care of. So, the separation from the family brought about an integration of a delicious cooking mix in his life.