I welcome the occasional power cuts in Bangalore. Any excuse to switch off the TV so that the family can spend some "quality time" together is fine by me. But imagine a time when there was no power at all, the only source of entertainment being an old radio and some periodicals. Hardly a bother when compared to starting the kitchen chores at 4 in the morning, drawing buckets and buckets of water from the well (god bless whoever discovered the motor), grinding and powdering kilos of rice with various kinds of mortars and pestles (my food processor is such a gem), getting all black and sooty while trying to get the firewood to burn (can't imagine not having a proper gas stove). With none of today's modern machinery for farming (which was the main occupation of most people in Kerala), the men had a tough time too. The kids were not spared either as they had to walk a long way to their schools, most of them bare footed.
To be fair, people did get along fine inspite of all the manual labour involved, and the day ended early, with the family saying their prayers and singing hymns together, a light supper and a much needed slumber through the night. The food was healthier as well, freshly prepared each time, and mostly consisted of organic ingredients cultivated in one's own farm.
I think there is a stark difference between the kinds of refreshments offered to visitors now and then. My mom tells me that during her childhood days, these refreshments mostly included moru/sambharam/spiced butter milk. Nothing better to boost a tired traveller. But today it is mostly packaged juice or aerated soft drinks. I am not complaining because I like both of them, but a point in favour of moru is that since it is a curd based savory drink (flavoured with ginger, shallots, curry leaves and chilies), it cools down the body the way no soft drink can ever do.
And don't let the fact that it is healthy put you off, it is delicious as well!
500 ml curd/yoghurt
50 ml water
1/2 inch piece of ginger
3 birds eye chilies (kaandari mollagu)/2 normal green chilies - adjust according to tolerance
3 shallots (small red onions/kunjulli)
A sprig of curry leaves
A couple of lemon leaves (optional)
To taste, salt
Ice cubes (optional)
Crush ginger, chilies and shallots using a mortar and pestle. Crush the curry leaves lightly using your fingers.
Beat curd, water and salt together till smooth. You can use a food processor for this.
Add the crushed mixture to the curd, mix well. Finally throw in lemon leaves, some more curry leaves and ice cubes. Serve immediately.
Moru is not only used as a drink, but is also served along with rice. A small ladle of moru mixed with a serving of rice forms the last course of a traditional Onam Sadhya, since moru helps digestion.
Hope you try out this healthy drink!