Saturday, December 24, 2005

C O F F E E>


Coffee is something of a cultural icon in our cultures. It is a revered tradition particularly among Brahmin households. It is customary to offer a cup of coffee to any visitor, (although being offered coffee immediately upon arrival can also be construed as an indication to leave!!!). Coffee, I am told was originally introduced by the British to South India. As far as I remember traditional households would not use granulated sugar but used jaggery instead in coffee.

A historian covering the period of Emperor Jehangir (1616) seemed to have remarked "Many of the people in South India, who are strict in their religion, drink no Wine at all; but they use a Liquor more wholesome than pleasant, they call Coffee; made by a black Seed boiled in water, which turns it almost into the same colour,: it is very good to help digestion, to quicken the spirits, and to cleanse the blood."

A term often heard for high-quality coffee is degree coffee.

“Milk certified as pure with a lactometer was called degree milk owing to a mistaken association with the thermometer. Coffee prepared with degree milk became known as degree coffee”, says my senior colleague.

But what my wife has taught me to prepare is Filter coffee, a ritual which I have perfected after years of practice.

For the youth (do they call themselves-dudes?) who only drink cappuccino out of born china, I give some tips here. The name filter coffee derives from the brass filter (usually a part of Streedhanam) used for making the decoction. The metal cup with the porous bottom slides into the lips of the regular bottomed cup. Fresh coffee grounds mixed with chicory is spread lightly into the porous upper cup and compressed gently with the stemmed sieve press. Boiling water is poured on top of the coffee grounds while leaving the compress press in place. Brewed coffee drips into the receptacle at the bottom in half an hour or so, and is ready for consumption.

Coffee is typically served after pouring the coffee back and forth between the ‘davarah’ and the tumbler in huge arc-like motions of the hand. This cools the very hot coffee down and leaves a thick layer of froth on top. The 'davarah' is the wide metal saucer with lipped walls. The coffee is drunk from the tumbler but the davarah is used to gently spin the coffee around to cool it.

Moral: Do not anticipate trouble. Do not build up tension. Relax with a cupa!!!

“Manam eva manushyaanaam kaaranam SUKHA DUKHAYOHO”. I simply substituted the last word bandha mokshayoho with sukha dukhayoho.

"Chintayaa dahyathe chittam naraanaam"

All these simply or (simbly) mean your mind can play havoc! Mind is a monkey!


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