Hour Nine – Beetnoon

Hour Nine – Look in your cupboards and find a food that brings up a childhood memory, and the memory is your prompt




Rummaging in my kitchen shelf for some ground black pepper

to sprinkle over my omelette

I upset the carefully casual collection of jars skulking at the back.

Abandoning hunger along with the staid egg,

I decide to tidy the shelf instead…

… when this whiff attacked me.

And became a time capsule to float me back to

  1. Aged Six. Nine. Ten. Twelve. Fifteen.

My entire childhood.

My Indian childhood.

Of beetnoon or kaalanamak (black salt).

I don’t have an English name for you,

Oh, beloved half-forgotten magic potion.

I sprinkled you on everything.

On the healthy vegetables and daals, I was forced to eat.

On boiled potatoes and fried potatoes,

or the exotic potato wafers which came in packets.

A luxury. A rare treat.

The spicy, hot ‘n sour tang

hits the back of my nose now

just as it did fifty years ago.

My mouth fills with juicy anticipation.

Hunger returns.

I sprinkle beetnoon on my omelette

and savour the heat of childhood adventures

in the now cool foreignness of Scotland.



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