East-West Breakfast: Roti and Peanut Butter

27 August 2007, Bombay

Today, I had the breakfast of returned Indians:  leftover roti (any kind of Indian “bread”) with peanut butter and fruit preserve.  I first had this delicacy at the home of Suchitra and Shreedhar in Byculla, Bombay, who have been here for about a year now.  A visiting friend gifted them a jar of peanut butter.  That, combined with a jar of homemade (by Shreedhar’s mother in Pune) mango preserve on yesterday’s roti made by the maid/cook, zapped in the microwave and … voila… an east-west treat.

When Mark and I returned to Bombay from our brief respite in Pondicherry, I brought back the Naturellement organic peanut butter and pineapple orange marmalade (made in Auroville) that we had purchased for the few days we were there.  Our standard breakfast in Pondy is PB&J on rusks or digestive biscuits and fruit.

The day after I returned to Bombay, and was here all by my lonesome (“Where’s John?  Where’s Mark?”), our neighbor Vandana decided that she was going to feed me.  “Don’t get food from outside.  Reshma – give her some fish curry and rice.” So every afternoon (people eat very late here), Reshma (one of the salon workers who doubles as pedicurist/cook) brings over lunch (on the rare occasions when Cleopatra Beauty Salon has a client, lunch is even later).  For the first couple of days, it was different types of fish curry and rice.  Then, she decided that I should have chapatis as well.  So, I would get rice, dal, fried fish, a vegetable (usually potatoes and okra) and chapati or papad.  Way too much food – hence, the leftover roti for breakfast.

I don’t have a microwave, but do have a two-ring gas “stove”, one of Nina’s family’s extra gas canisters, and Kumar’s gone-for-six-month neighbor’s gas regulator, along with a set of pots and pans, again from Nina’s family.  I heated the first roti on the tava (flat, round pan for cooking roti).  Warmed up nicely.  Heated the other one and a half rotis and left them on the tava with the gas turned off to stay warm while I ate my first “burrito” of peanut butter and marmalade spread on the roti and rolled up not like a burrito, actually, but more like a jelly roll.  Then I went back for the other one and a half, which had crisped up for having been left too long on the tava.  So I had PB&J tacos.

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