Thursday, August 17, 2006

Premchand & Flying Crabs

The other day I was overcome by the desire to have some juicy crabs. Promptly, set off for Ankur (had my first ever Kiwi Margarita there). Having maneuvered past Kandeel and found the right left and right, I was soon appetizing my stomach with some Karwali Prawns and slices of delightfully cooked Pomfrets. The process being aided by the king of good times.

After about 20 minutes arrived the weaponry. A shell cracker (we have all seen that); an intriguing appliance that looks like pliers (“plus” for bongs); and the narrow bone digger. And, of course, the bibs.

Another ten minutes and a majestic 8-inch crustacean covered in thick gravy made its grand entrance (how do people have shelled crabs?). My co-eater was looking on kinda intimidated. I, of course, the veteran of crabs grabbed the cracker and set upon the creature.

It was a sublime experience. The white gentle meat flaking off the shell countered by a deliciously angry thick masala melting inside the mouth. Friends, it was heavenly!

I was reminded of something I had read in school, part of our Hindi reading. Premchand wrote in his story 'Budi Kaki': 'budapa bahuda bachpan ka punaragman hota hai'. The story goes on to explain how older people start craving for the same stuff they did when they were kids and food was top of the pops.

I have certainly purnagamaned.

Yes, yes the flying part. Am coming to that. We encountered this particularly sturdy crust which was too small for the cracker. Ah, I thought. That’s what the “plus” is for. No sooner, had I applied a gentle wrist motion a crusty slice spliced off and almost nailed my opposite number. There was gravy on the walls and white meat in the neighbour’s muttor paneer (why on earth would you eat paneer in Ankur!).

Things settled down. I got the shell shocked paneer eater some mulligatawny soup and we finished off the crab. They got us buckets with scrubbers to clean our arms and some delicious dried paan to make it the complete meal.

It’s when I was leaving that I realized that I hadn’t finished the bottle of beer. Yes, the first bottle. Am sure, all of you who know me well (or even not that well) are reaching for the phone to book an appointment with a crab.

And if you don’t live in Mumbai, well…