Chapatti club and ‘Desi’ bacteria

It is always difficult when you keep moving from one place to another. Bereft of friends, you struggle through the first years, trying to maintain perspective. You then end up comparing the places you left with the place you arrived at and almost always find that the other side of the shore was greener. You also hunt around for friendly faces, the Indian in the crowd….and in South califonia, it is tough…with most Mexicans having faces somewhat similar to South Indians.

But the good thing is food, there are nice spices in hot Mexican food and you start to enjoy the fish tacos and all the other tasty items from the Mexican menu..

Soon you locate the neighborhood Indian grocer; you finally find that version or make of Greek yoghurt that is close to OK, you figure out the best brands in Atta and rice. Having got the kitchen in some order, and the mistress of the house settled with not many complaints, you then start to hunt for the restaurants. Within a year you would have covered all the Indian eating houses in a 100 square mile radius and would have decided that all or most are horrible. You suddenly start feeling that the ‘Nando’s’ in UK was by & far the best chicken you ever ate, after Sagar Calicut…

The other day we went to an Indian take out joint and they asked “Do you want Shak with your
Roti’s?” I was wondering what language she was talking in - Gujarati? Marathi? Tamil, Punjabi?? Or was she talking of the ex Lakers ex Miamai heat player Shaq O Neil?? Or was it ‘Shak’ for suspicion (suspicion with rotis? – Then, I remembered my cousin telling me that she once had to clandestinely meet some lady behind the MacDonald’s to pick up her 100 pack chapattis in Ohio)? All of this did not make sense, till we figured out that it is the curry of the day and that it was a Gujarati term for curry.

Then she wanted to know if we were in the Chapatti club – I was flabbergasted, wondering what on the earth such a club does. Well some investigation revealed that you can order bulk Chapattis every week on the supplying Desi lady only after becoming the member of such a club. Thus you get wholesale rates for 50 or more, if not it will be retail rates, per packet of 10. BTW there is a chapati club in Belgium but you play music there!!

Problems started when we got making yoghurt at home. Using the primer from purchased yoghurt made it all gluey and stringy. Till my wife met a friendly Punjabi lady. She provided some ‘Desi culture’ and with that, complaints on the horribly gluey yoghurt ceased. So now we thrive on curd made using the finest bacteria from the Punjab.

By the way – at that time we did not know
Inji Pennu – the food blogger. She had promised to be the Good Samaritan and send the curd primer to anybody who wants it, who would pay for shipping and leave a comment on her blog!! Now that is a great soul!! Inji, thanks, you also share a favorite of mine, Koorka kizhangu – she had researched that topic so much that we can now use the results to try & find the supplier in California!!


diyadear said…
hi maddy,
How are u?? so u've shifted to CAlifornia is it?? Here's my 2 cents on making curd.. May be you already know this, but i think it works for me.. After you pour the culture in warm milk, keep it in the over for 4 hours with the oven light on. (just light is enough) And this method always works for me :)
Good luck with the curd now.. And if there is any better way do let me know too ;)
Vidhya said…
Hi Maddy.. Interesting post.. Chapati club.. thats an interesting discovery!
Vidhya said…
Hi Maddy.. Interesting post.. Chapati club.. thats an interesting discovery!
Nanditha Prabhu said…
the title of the post tempted me to read it... what you observed is so true about moving.. as this is what i am going thro right now. i seem to have signed a pact that i will not stay in a house for more than a year.. my nomadic life continues:)...

the chappathi club sounds interesting:). so have you joined?
good that you found some desi bacteria.. i adopt th method by diya and it works:)
narendra shenoy said…

I'm back from the dark continent where I was without a net connection for over a week. I'm on some wonderful posts this Sunday. I've been around some in the US and dahi is one thing I sorely missed.

Great post! I liked the "Desi Culture" bit. Whole new meaning!
kallu said…
HI Maddy,
That is an intersting insight into life in the US of A.
I have to admit that curd here too can sometimes be very gluey and uncultured.
You've opened up a deluge of tricks. Thanks.
Maddy said…
Diya - we have been in California for 2 yrs now - this was just a note on the early times...
yup, my wife does the same thing - have the oven light on when making curds in the winter.
Thanks Vidhya, and Nanditha - good luck with the moving..It is a pain.
Welcome back, Narendra to the bright least these years, the lights are shining on india ...
Thanks Kallu - life for NRI's is not always easy & fun..but that is a topic in itself