The idea for this post sprouted in my mind during my return train journey from home in December. As usual, Amma had packed her routine Pothichoru for us. Taking account of Sandettan’s addition to my life, the amount of food had quadrupled. Thatz Amma’s style!

It is not the first time that I had carried Amma’s Pothichoru. I have vivid memories of the rice stuffed in that plantain leaf, of the melting taste of omelette, the tanginess of the ginger-tamarind chutney and the chicken or fish pieces of gastronomical delight (Sorry for killing English language!).

This unassuming green pouch has made way into the travel bags of all our relatives who have left our home on a train travel; it has joined my relatives travelling from Kayamkulam to Bhilai and Delhi at the Ernakulam Junction railway station. The wonderful meal contained inside never had the Paneer Butter Masala or Chettinad Chicken to boast about, it never had a glossy aluminium foil cover, it never had boxes to hold the side dishes. It almost always had the same menu of rice, egg omelette, ginger tamarind chammandi, and a piece or two of fish, chicken or a thoran, it always had the dull green plantain leaf holding it, and side dishes wrapped in smaller plantain leaves.

But the love and care with which it was prepared made this meal heavenly. The feelings that cooked into the meal translated to the wonderful taste which became a trademark. It bonded our people to Achan and Amma. It taught me all about being there for our relatives. It spoke and taught volumes about the family ties and family values. In this fast world, it taught me the simple joy of cooking a good meal, serving and sharing. And in the succeeding days and years, brought name and fame to Mani Chechi’s Pothichoru.

Sometime in between I felt a little hesitancy in carrying that traditional plantain pouch on my train journeys. But then, the moment I open that pouch, the smell that emanated out would engulf my thoughts and bring back that familiar longing for home. The unsophisticated ordinary little Pothichoru forever brings before my eyes innocent and unassuming affection. How fragile are external appearances – an old newspaper sheet covering a plantain leaf? The value is within coz that humble abode lodges the radiance of love, care and warmth.