17 September 2007

Art, sweets and some Math

An acquaintance of ours, Mrs. Y, has been asking me for a while to conduct an "Understand India" session at one of the various organizations she's a patron of. Understand India? It sounded too broad a brief, and I agreed, without a single clue what I was going to do or talk about. My abysmal Japanese notwithstanding.

Once I was given the brief it didn't sound that bad. "Think of a typically Indian activity for kids, and make one Indian dish that the kids can also help make." All right. That didn't sound too bad. But as D-day loomed, I hadn't thought of a single thing that was "typically Indian". Then I realised, that I'd comitted to this session on the same date Ganesha chaturthi, and inspired by that, I said I'd show kids about Rangoli. That idea was a really winner. The kids really enjoyed it, and had a whale of a time giving free reign to their limitless imagination.

For the typically Indian dish, I had major constrains. The venue had just a small hot plate. I had work with that. That ruled out most traditional stuff. And it had to be kid friendly. Decisions, decisions!

I finally decided on 'maalaadu', an old favourite, that was simple enough to make. I powdered the pottu kadalai (roasted-chana-dal) and sugar in advance, and all that there was to do, was the assembly. And that too went down quite well. So after sweating it out in the sun, we all sat down to a very welcome snack of 'maalaadu' and lassi.

Maalaadu/Besan laddoo

1/2 kg Roasted chana dal/pottu kadalai (finely powdered)
1/2 kg sugar (finely powdered)
1/4 tsp cardomom powder
1/2 kg ghee

Mix the dry ingredients well in a large bowl.
Heat the ghee.
Pour over the powders, and stir in well with a wooden spoon, or spatula.
Mix well.
Shape into laddoos while still warm.

During the introduction, Mrs Y introduced India and Indians to the kids as mathematical geniuses. Genius?? Well, the kids started throwing numbers at me, asking to multiply them mentally. And these were numbers they could manage. All under 20. At this point, the imp in me took over, and I started demonstrating the finer points of vedic mathematics to these kids. Just a couple of 'sutras', but sutras that I was very very sure about. The very elementary, simple ones. Soon I had kids writing numbers on the board, and writing out the answers before they could key in and get the answer from a calculator. God, that was some ego trip! The awe on the faces of the students, and teachers alike, had to be seen to be believed. So in this neck of the woods at least, we have kids thinking that Indians have a second brain for mathematics.

Thank goodness they didn't want to look at my marks cards.


Cinnamon said...

Its indeed kid friendly.. i mean any easy recipe which even kids would enjoy preparing!!
The outcome looks delicious!!

lakshmi said...

wowie, i love such activities. we used to ply "wheat flour - sugar" dough into rounds at these weekend workshops for children with autism.

Happy cook said...

Hey even i would enjoy preparing it. For me easier is the best.

Pooja V said...


Suganya said...

You are darn creative Vidya! I remember making this urundai with my mom. First steps toward cooking!

Asha said...

That was a great dessert to make for kids in school Vidya.They are all participating,look at that!:D
They look great. Good for you to show them Rangoli too,I bet kids loved the colorful designs.

Jyothi said...

Just love the kids involvement of preparation of a great sweet. Yummmm....Thanks for sharing.

Vidya said...

Thanks for the kind comments, people...
do drop a line!

hema said...

great, vidya!
anasuya still remebers the ladus u had made all by urself as a young child.

Ziah said...

Hey! You're quite creative... only wished my obentos would have looked that yum too... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Vidya,
your article made me nostalgaic. Once i was part of this "typically Indian"show in Japan...was for adults..most of them wanted chicken curry and photos in saree!!
I lived In Kobe,where do you stay?


mummyjaan said...

Hello, Vidya.

Have been going through your recipes.

In our family, there is an almost identical laddu recipe made with roasted mung daal. Minus the cardamom.

These laddus are supposed to be *the* perfect after-school snack.

Jeena said...

Hi there you have a great blog,lovely recipes. Feel free to visit my blog too :)

Jeena xx

Click Here For Food Recipes

Vidya said...

Everyone: Thanks for dropping by and commenting

@ziah: Obentos... remind me to post the story behind those...

@anonymous'd': I live is Tsuruoka, Yamagata prefecture. the true "inaka". I've done too many wear-a-saree-and-do-a- photoshoot sessions, and that's why i put more thought into this one.

@mummyjaan: these were easier than the mung ones, lesser prep-time.

@jeena: thanks, drop by again

Cynthia said...

Vidya, I came here from Bee & Jai's blog after reading your wonderful postcard and the photographs you take - stunning! So nice to meet you!

I share you passion for dal - truly one of the best foods. I can eat it daily and never get tired of it.

I've added you to my feeds since you're already on the Foodie Blogroll. Looking forward to more of your posts and discussions on life in Japan.

rahin said...

hey this is very cool, i like ur blog

mummyjaan said...

y'know, I mistakenly typed 'mung' instead of 'urad' yesterday. It's urad daal laddus (although when they're dry-roasted and golden, they don't look much different from mung, you see). And yeah, roasting them on low heat takes forever.

Puspha said...

Came here thru Asha's. What a wonderland blog u have. Keep up the good job.

ServesYouRight said...

yum! came upon your blog by way of kodubale - such a happy discover :-) bestest,


bee said...

that was a great post. i remember reading ya perelman's book on fun with maths when i was a kid...and i used to tell myself that these russians...man they are good in maths. in retrospect some of those were simple tricks, but i was amazed back then! -j

Vidya said...

Cynthia & Rahin: thanks :) glad you liked that little write up

mummyjaan: I thought as much..was wondering

pushpa & servesyouright: thanks for your comments

bee: until i studied vedic math, I thought so too when I saw demos of whiz kids do mental math. you should try vedic mathematics, and then you could join the club in wondering why it's not taught at school level

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