Last month, I went home to my parents for a week. It was something of an old-fashioned summer vacation. There was a new baby to visit, an older child with whom we played a lot of indoor games – I must have played carrom board after more than 20 years – lots of mangoes and other summer fruit to eat, much sighing over the heat and hoping the monsoon would somehow arrive early, and some kitchen experiments with the aforementioned older child, my eight-year-old niece.
One of those games was Name Place Animal Thing (NPAT). It’s where the players take turns to name a letter and then everyone has to write down a name, place, animal and thing that starts with the letter. In one of my turns, I landed on a Q. (A player tells you to “Start” – reciting the alphabet silently – and when they tell you to “Stop” you have to mention the letter you were stopped at and that’s the letter you use for the next round.)
I finished my turn and was waiting for my niece, whom we give a little extra time as she’s still very young. After a few minutes she said she couldn’t proceed as she didn’t know anything much with Q. “Then you get a zero,” I said gleefully, :and I get a 40", ten for each of the four words/nouns we have to write down in the game.
“No way! I don’t agree,” my niece ranted. “How can I write anything if you throw a Q at me? I don’t know anything with a Q. Even Mom doesn’t. How can you give me something I cannot do and then say I get a zero? I won’t accept it,” she stormed.
After I came back, I was exchanging notes with my neighbour who too has an eight-year-old niece. Her niece too had trouble with a Q, she said. Her excuse was that she hadn’t been taught much Q in school yet. “Queenie, Queensland, quail, quilt,” we rattled off almost in unison and burst out laughing when we realised this list hadn’t changed in the many years since we played NPAT with the same ardour as 8-year-olds.
Quill was another ‘thing’. I remember seeing a picture book with a bird called a quetzal. When I used it once, I seem to remember my co-players refused to accept it saying all I was making it up, no one has ever heard of a quetzal. They were easy to overrule, not my niece.
In the food blogging world, on and off I’ve come across alphabet-based challenges. Some bloggers get really inventive with names of dishes when it’s the turn of alphabets such as Q and X and Z. So in time-honoured tradition, here’s the Qapsicum Qurd Qurry, inspired by Tarla Dalal’s Achaari Dahi Bhindi, two shrivelling qapsicums and no coriander powder.
The tweaking I did with the recipe was to halve the amount of ladies’ fingers, add about three cups of diced capsicum, increase the amount of curds to 1 cup and the spices by just a pinch.
As the capsicum didn’t need to be fried, unlike the ladies’ fingers, I added them directly to the gravy as soon as it began to ‘pulse’ a bit in the pan. I didn’t cook it too much, I let it remain a little crunchy, it would get softer as the gravy cooled.
I added the ladies’ fingers just two minutes before I took it off the stove, about seven minutes in all.
Dalal recommends rotis and parathas to go with it but we ate it with good ol’ rice and it was just fine!