Remembering Raji (Miri of Peppermill) And Her Birinji


Remembering Raji (Miri of Peppermill) And Her Birinji

Miri. Of the blog, Peppermill

Interesting and catchy, and her name matches her blog name!

That’s what I remember thinking when I first came across her comment at one of posts. It never struck me then that Miri, the Hindi word for black pepper, could be a pseudonym.

She stayed in my mind as one of those fellow bloggers who left thoughtful and meaningful comments on my posts.

Much later, I came across Raji on Facebook, where she and I kept crossing each other frequently in discussions we used have there on the “walls” of mutual friends.

Until one day, she sent me a friend request with a note saying that since we knew each other from so many common discussions perhaps it was time we became friends.

I remember smiling at that. That was also when I discovered that the Miri of Peppermilland the Raji on Facebook, with whom I shared so many enjoyable conversations, were one and the same!

(Photograph: Courtesy of Manisha)

And then on the morning of the 13th of February, I got a message on from another friend saying Raji passed away that morning and she thought I would want to know.

For some reason, the fact that she is no more with us doesn’t seem to leave me. Is it because she is the second food bloggerfriend to pass away unexpectedly in the past one year?

Or was it that both of them were too young to go and still had a lot of living to do?

Maybe it is that I am once again reminded of how little control we have over some aspects of our lives? Perhaps it is a bit of all this and more.

I wasn’t close to Raji and knew her in the way many of us know each other through our blogs, or social sites like Facebook. Whatever we discussed in our virtual conversations told me I’d get along with her and gave me a glimpse of her cheerfulness, friendliness, warmth and concern and of course, her passion for food. I had hoped to meet her couple of months down the line but that was not to be.

I did not know that she had been unwell for quite some time though I now understand from a couple of our common friends that she had been fighting her illness for quite a while and she had known for some time that the prognosis wasn’t too good.

In the last few months of her life she wasn’t even able to eat much, yet she seemed to have made her peace with her situation, blogging about food, and connecting with people in her warm and cheerful way.

Raji** has touched me more than she will ever know, perhaps even more so now that she is no more. There’s a lesson to be learnt in the dignity with which she chose to deal with her adversities.

I will miss her thoughtful comments on my posts and our vitual conversations. She will always come to mind as one of the people I know who chose to be remembered with a smile on her face no matter what.

She will also come to my mind every time I cook Birinji/ Brinji!

Remembering Raji (Miri of Peppermill) And Her Birinji

Raji was known among some of her good friends for her Birinji, which was something they raved about. I had never till then heard about Birinji which was supposed to be a well-known rice preparation from Raji**’s home state of Tamilnadu.

We’re originally from that part of India yet I had never come across this dish. When I did finally check her recipe for Birinji, it turned out to be a sort of fusion of the of the South Indian style Biryani with the flavour of a cocout base korma.

A Birinji is a delicious Biryani (a sort of Indian rice casserole that’s cooked on the stove-top) made with vegetables and rice cooked with a spiced cumin-mint-green coriander/ cilantro paste and coconut milk. Serve it with yogurt and a fresh tomato salad or raita, and pappads/ chips for an immensely satisfying meal.

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