Sunday, November 8, 2009

Guava Raita

There are certain things that schools in India guarantee — a good education, lifelong friendships and a peruwala outside every school gate. For those of you who didn’t go to school in India, a peruwala is a guava vendor and there’s one situated outside each school gate with a black Atlas bicycle and flat cane basket tied to the “carrier” over the rear wheel. The basket lined with grass is quartered with rope to separate the guavas by size and price. In my days, 75 paise (roughly 15¢ in 1988) would fetch you the biggest guava on the cart. It was harmless and inexpensive treat that made recess just that much sweeter. Cut into 4 quarters, each guava would then be filled with chili and salt — the thought of which freaks my firang wife out to this day. The guavawalla is a phenomenon I couldn’t quite understand. Why are there only peruwalas outside school? There’s never an apple cart or even an orange cart. Either way, memories of my post-lunch guava with friends are something I cherish to this day.

20 Monaco biscuits (or salty crackers)
2 ripe Guavas chopped
1 tsp finely chopped Coriander
1 cup Yogurt
4 tsp ground Peanuts
1/2 tsp Sugar
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds

Beat yogurt in a bowl till it is a thick liquid
Mix coriander, peanuts, sugar and salt into the yogurt
Gently add the chopped guava into the bowl
Heat oil in a small pot
When the oil is hot add mustard and cumin seeds
When the seeds start to splatter reduce heat and pour the tempered mixture over the guavas
Mix well
Lay out the crackers and place a little dollop of the raita on each cracker