Choices are difficult to take. I mean, that’s what choices are for. To make life more complicated. This…? Nah…that! Er…this… While I was a student, some exam papers used to give options. Question No. 8. Answer any one of the following. And I am at a loss to select one as I know both the answers…very well. Then I look at Question No. 9. Again, answer any one…and I don’t know the answer to either! What a predicament! Give me a Calvin Klein and a Gucci…I’ll dither. Tell me to choose between Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham…I’ll tap my feet in irritation. O.P. Nayyar and S. D. Burman? I am spoiled for choice… But ask me if I want mor kuzhambu or majjige huli…before you finish your question…I’d have declared MOR KOZHAMBU. There’s no doubt about it! Comparing the palghat iyers’ mor kozhambu or morkoottaan as it is fondly called, to the majjige huli is like comparing Manichithra Thaazhu to Chandralekha! I mean …no comparison as far as I am concerned. Mor koottaan is prepared with ash gourd (elavan) or vellarikkai and raw banana or potato. I prefer potato. The cubed vegetables are boiled with salt and haldi and left to cool. Fresh coconut is ground with green chillies and the well ground mixture is added to thick sour buttermilk or well beaten curds. This is mixed with the boiled vegetables and heated at a very low flame till small bubbles start appearing on the surface. Heat is turned off at this crucial moment and the dish is seasoned with kadugu (mustard seeds), menthium( fenugreek seeds), redchillies and garnished with kadipatha. Mmmm! Just divine! Now for the cousin across the border. For one thing there is a wider variety of vegetables used. Of course, the ash gourd or the vellarikkai (bannada sowthekkayi) is the primary choice. But it is also made with badinekkayi (eggplant)/ ‘ seeme badnikai (chayote squash)/ cucumber/ soppu (greens) or…umm…bendekkayi( okra) and even dodda menshinkayi (capsicum). The masala involves grinding so many ingredients. Chana daal soaked for half an hour, red chillies, coriander seeds, jeera, coconut, a small piece of ginger and hing. The ground masala is mixed with sour curds and is added to the boiled vegetable of your choice and brought to boil. The seasoning is with mustard seeds and red chilli. Somehow, though I eat both, I relish the morkoottaan more than majjige huli. The former transports me to realms of exquisite culinary ecstasy whereas the latter leaves an after taste of raw coriander seeds in my mouth. I am a bit more partial to the north Indian varieties of Kadis. In fact given a choice of majjige huli and punjabi kadi…I know where I’ll head out to. Again I find a personality clash between the Punjabi kadi and the Gujarathi one. The former is more exotic with its pakodas and tangy methi dotted gravy, whereas the latter is more watery and rather sweetish. Give me rice and Punjabi kadi and you can see a gourmand in the avatar of a glutton at work! But my undying loyalties are with good old morkoottaan! *** This has been published originally in Sulekha by me.