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This scorching and candy tomato juice was the spotlight of our summers and winters alike

This scorching and candy tomato juice was the spotlight of our summers and winters alike

Earlier than nostalgia grew to become modern, we solely had footage and inside jokes as triggers for a dive into the previous. The sepia-tinted frames of our collective childhoods stood out throughout household gatherings, as they provided us a panorama we yearned to return to, a multi-sensory expertise board the place, at simply the snap of a finger, we might scent, contact and style the varied delicacies that made these golden growing-up years enjoyable and memorable. 

These have been the times of easy joys: consuming recent fruits like gooseberry and cashew apples proper off the tree, chewing on rose petals and tulsi leaves whereas strolling barefoot within the backyard, and ingesting the nectar off little flower clusters spared by the butterflies and the bees.

My mom had a novel manner of jazzing up even the only of choices from her kitchen. She drew inspiration for her culinary experiments from the backyard, her multicultural friendships, and the cookery membership that met as soon as per week on the Officer’s Colony membership close to the place we lived. 

Little issues

To today, I can image her within the backyard, rediscovering the vegetation and timber she had lovingly tended to after the family chores had been accomplished, her Madras plaid Chettinad cotton saree complementing the pink and inexperienced of the bushes, and the diamonds on her nosepin twinkling like stars within the twilight. 

She was the happiest in her backyard, and she or he’d get excited concerning the littlest issues: a ripe papaya on the tree, a handful of flat beans on the creeper, ripe guavas and star fruit, inexperienced chillies and pumpkin flowers, the primary sighting of coriander sprouts or tomatoes and even simply the dew on the numerous blades of grass.

She would expend no matter items the backyard provided, preserving complete seasons in little bottles lined up on the pantry cabinets. I don’t bear in mind a time once we didn’t have do-it-yourself preserves or pickles in inventory, to not point out quite a lot of condiments and concentrates. 

Papaya jam and guava jelly, mango pickle and tomato thokku, a down-home model of gulkand and mango pulp focus and, my favorite, a scorching and candy tomato juice, which was the spotlight of our summers and winters alike, and which we’d lap as much as the final drop.

The story of how this recipe took place was at all times a thrill to listen to from mother, a grasp storyteller, who knew simply the way to preserve us in rapt consideration. As at all times, this story too was by no means the identical with every re-telling — it gathered extra salt and spice because it flowed on, giving us the joys of a shared secret, the highs of a yard journey, and the contentment of a contented daydream, all of sudden. 

Household favorite

In the future, when a bunch of friends comprising cousins and second technology aunts and uncles confirmed up unexpectedly, mother concocted the recipe for this ripper of a mocktail. She didn’t have sufficient lemons to make lemonade, so she bumped into the backyard and plucked out some plump, juicy  naati tomatoes (the home-grown Indian selection), a bunch of mint leaves, and the remainder, as they are saying, is historical past. The one factor I vividly bear in mind concerning the juice — known as a virgin Masala Mary in our books — is that it tasted just like the backyard itself — recent, zippy and luxurious.

This scrumptious drink that quenched the thirst of household and mates from close to and much has been a Rao household favorite for over 50 years. To today, once I see the yellow flowers sprouting on the tomato vegetation in my little backyard patch, I get excited concerning the fruits to come back, and the opportunity of turning them into juice. I’m immediately transported to the vacations of my childhood, spent indoors riffling by  Archie’s comics, taking part in board video games with my mates, and reaching for that bottomless bowl of potato chips, to be washed down with mother’s magic drink. 

This Masala Mary is an ode to that reminiscence and aside from tasting lip-smacking good, it’s additionally brimming with healthful lycopene. It’s an awesome occasion drink, and goes with just about something, from a typical desi unfold with chaat and biryani to a barely extra elaborate TexMex menu, replete with nachos and salsa, arroz rojo and fajita!


Mother’s Masala Mary

(Serves 4)


naati tomatoes, chopped

¼ tsp pink chilli powder

¼ tsp black pepper powder

¼ tsp kaala namak (black salt)

¼ tsp cumin powder

3 tbsp sugar or jaggery powder

Handful of mint leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

3-4 ice cubes or chilly water


Mix all of the components collectively in your mixie simply earlier than serving. You may also make this forward of time, however be sure you refrigerate instantly after mixing, and squeeze within the lemon juice simply earlier than serving.

Be aware: For the vacation season, you can too serve a cocktail model of this Masala Mary. Merely tip in 60-90 ml of gin or vodka to the combination, simply earlier than serving!

The author is a real blue Bangalorean, lover of all issues associated to meals and tradition.


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