Mamma would often ask me to find her a bird’s feather on my way to school. Grabbing the opportunity to please my mother I would take the straight road to school my eyes scanning the kerbside for a feather. The crow’s feather was black and long and Mamma would pronounce it too big. The sparrows and the mynahs had feathers which were either too small or not strong enough. Pigeon feathers were always just right. Mamma would peel off the feathers at the side and leave a cm of feathers at the very top. Every time her ears itched (which they often did) Mamma would introduce the contraption into her ear and twist and turn it like a “madani” (curd whisk). Probably the reason for her deafness in later years. Her face would reflect the immense relief this procedure gave her. I would laugh aloud to see her thus.
I adored her so much, my beautiful mother!
On particularly good days mother would make me my favorite Odds and Ends Bread Pudding.
Mamma would first pre heat the oven at 180*C and measure out 500ml of milk. Then taking a large pudding bowl she would begin to assemble all the ingredients required to make the pudding. The bread and biscuit crumbs came first. Three cups of crumbs. Two eggs were beaten and added to the mix along with one teaspoon of vanilla essence and 25 gms of melted butter. A half cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of Marmalade, some candied ginger and other candied peels, raisins , cashewnuts and half a cup of broken chocolate bits or choco chips would find their way into the concoction. Mamma would then take the dish in which the pudding had to be baked and sprinkle it with two tablespoons of sugar. The dish would be placed on the fire with two teaspoons of water and caramalized to golden perfection. After adding the milk to the other ingredients she would stir well and pour the mixture into the pudding dish.
The pudding would then be set to bake in a water bath for 30- 45 minutes. I would wait patiently watching every movement. When the pudding was ready she would cool it on a wire rack.( I guess this is where I learnt to be patient, a virtue indispensible to good cooking). Mamma would then shake the pudding around until it detatched itself from the sides and bottom. Then she would overturn it on to the prettiest plate in her cubboard. I would exclaim in glee at that glorious sight. She was not done as yet. she would cover the pudding with whipped cream and chocolate fudge before serving it to me on another of the pretty plates in her cubboard.
However even without the whipped cream and the choco fudge the pudding is still the best I have tasted.