april 2023 krishnaarchana 11 for its turn to join the first course. In unison, the ‘K’s rotate their hands around the rice [on the left], sweeping any stray grains of rice in its path to form a small mound. The hands then hover over the mound and come down, smashing everything in its path. At the end of 10 seconds, three beautiful balls of rice squashed with ghee and parippu stood ready for approval. One by one, the balls disappear into the black hole. Two marks more. The remaining mountain of rice soon gets levelled to a plateau two inches high. The hands scoop a giant crater filled immediately with three big spoons of sambhar. K1 waits for a moment and fills his huge nose with the steaming aroma. The muringakaya sambhar smelled just right. He ponders on giving full marks. Then decides to taste it. “Is there an extra tinge of kaayam?” K2 asks K1. K1 gives the hostess the benefit of the doubt and awards full marks [two points]. K2 gives only one and a half marks. Burping satisfaction! Most of the rice sloshed and slushed with sambhar disappears. ‘Olan’ waits next in line, followed by ‘kalan’, ‘kuttukari’, ‘aviyal’, ‘puliyinchi’, and ‘inchithaiyiru’. K1 and K2 swoop, dive, roll, sweep, squish, slurp and burp through the rest of the proceedings with ease and delight, reflecting on their faces. K1 is more expressive due to his training in Kathakali. K2 burps more. Even the burp from a Vishu sadya has a musical tone. It goes like this: ‘eeeeeeeeemmmmmmmmmm’. Deep from the pits of the stomach, with strong encouragement from the bottom of the heart. K1’s melodious burp reverberates longer and louder. The cabbage ‘upperi’ is so perfectly cut that both the ‘K’s give it bonus marks. Altogether, the hostess/host [Torontonians] scores 15 marks from K1 and 13 marks from K2. [The result will be an average of marks from the two judges.] Rice with rasam and pappadam follow. The only items left on the plate are bananas and ‘naranga achchar’. That will have to wait as the court crier announces the arrival of the prince of all desserts – ‘paladapradhaman’. Both the leaves in front of the ‘K’s look fatigued at the continuous onslaught. The ‘K’s turn up the ends of the leaf in anticipation of a watery treat. To their surprise, the consistency of the payasam is excellent, and the golden pink colour is a sight to behold. Being far away from Kerala, it is difficult to get proper ada. Ada comes in varying sizes and thicknesses. Unless the size is exact, the ada in the pradhaman will not be adequately cooked. The hostess has received her ada by personal courier. Extra marks for that; both ‘K’s agree. Eating most payasam from the flatness of the ‘ela’ requires excellent practice. The palm sort of hovers [again!] over it and spins the payasam clockwise. When the hand comes up, a big spoonful of payasam gets trapped in the palm of the hand. It goes into the mouth, and the palm gets licked clean, sometimes till the end of the elbow. The ‘K’s wonder if this payasam might be the best of the season. Bonus marks. One more round of payasam. This a sure sign to the hostess/host that the payasam may have done the trick. The rice, curds and pappadam at the end of it all satiate their appetite for the day. “Not a bad start to the season,” concurs K2. The first Vishu sadya receives 45 points. Five more to go, think the like-minded ‘K’s. Kuttunni is pot-bellied. His balding head has run out of ideas to grow more hair. The remaining outgrowth is jet black and is fighting a losing battle with his encroaching forehead. The other border is ably fenced by thick and wildly twisted eyebrows shading deep-set black eyes. The bulbous nose separating the eyes is a safe take-off point for small aircraft.