This is a repost from my friend Suma Balan’s blog. She and I went to the same medical school and we have shared memories of ‘muttai barotta’.

Muttai barotta- soul food

Two Priyas- Priya V Balakrishnan and Priya Mary Jacob are entirely at fault for this piece.

They caught me at a vulnerable moment.

A noble start to the week, I rose early on a Sunday morning and bullied my hubby Mohan Thadi and Abhishek Vs into accompanying me on a long walk-6.1 km. Iam very wary of the street dogs on the way who unaccountably find me a mesmerizing magnet.

So here Iam back home with the newspaper waiting for my tea to boil as breakfast cooks itself ( sausages in the oven and toast) when I rummage through FB and see delicious masala dosa and nostalgic coffee and peda displayed. My stomach responds noisily and my synaptic connections are in overdrive as Priya V starts talking about JIPMER shacks. She however has had a sheltered life as she hasn’t ever tasted the muttai barotta.

At my most vulnerable with hunger, smells, pictures and memories tumbling around, let me recreate that majestic snack for you.

The shacks outside JIPMER were just that- a series of half pucca shops with rusted tin unstable tables and chairs thrown in front them. The Casino brothers ( Mallus, who else) spotted the opportunity when they saw permanently hungry students, ill-fed and dissatisfied from the messes with a persistent gnawing hunger that would prioritise parting with their little spare cash for something that filled the stomach and the soul.

Thus they catered to birthday parties of samosa/sweet/coffee, night duty teams refuelling stops , an option for couples post library closure to delay the parting at the hostel gates, groups brainstorming after Interclass practices ( many a skit evolved here) etc etc. So much so that from one shop, the Casino brothers underwent considerable business expansion to three in a row in a short while!

They had cutting chai, milk, milkshakes of which their melting mango milkshake deserves special mention and snacks of various kinds – vegetable pups and so on…

But- their signature dish was the muttai barotta. Not paratha, or porotta, this one is a barotta. Belongs to the kothu barotta genus ,spp muttai( egg)

A process involving the conversion of greasy soft layered maida barotta into a complete dish. A large kadai with sizzling chopped onions , chillies tomatoes and curry leaves and then the art skill enter . In how the barotta is chopped into bite sized pieces with the fascinating movement of knives and stirrers simultaneously and then the eggs deftly cracked in and the process of mixing and stirring takes on a samba tempo and one can see components fly in the air with the speed . Splicing and slicing and stirring the sizzling mix, all happening together. This is the time the students beat on those ramshackle tables rhythmically screaming Egg barotta, egg barotta, egg barotta ,egg- egging him on till the final concoction arrives on the table – and then it’s silence except for the chewing and final burping. Like the best of them it stimulated at all levels- the sight, the smells, the sounds and of course- scored on taste too

Served generously with goodness and high colony counts – but we all had leather bowels and plastic stomachs in those days. And sturdy arteries too…..

Delicious memories…….