So the story goes, there was once an old monk who lived in one of those lands that are always so far far away. He was a travelling monk. He had denounced all worldly pleasures and used to roam around the land. He was given food by kind people. He was dressed sparsely, a simple saffron robe protecting him from the elements of nature. He never spoke much and only uttered a few chants to bless the people who gave him food. But he could always be seen muttering something under his breath, maybe prayers.
He walked most of the time, head bent low and arms swinging on his sides. He only carried with him a saffron-coloured cloth bag, in which he kept all the things he owned in this world- a string of prayer beads, a notebook, a pencil carved out of wood and a bottle of rum. The rum kept him warm during the harsh winter days and nights. He made it himself. His forefathers had taught him how to.
One day, when he was out on one of his walks, he passed by an inn. He was stopped short by the heavenly fragrance of something delicious being cooked. He generally didn’t give in to temptations like this. He was a monk, after all. But this time, he couldn’t resist. He walked into the inn and up to the manager.
“What is that heavenly scent wafting from your kitchens, oh good man?”
“That is the scent of a new dish that we’ve discovered, oh monk.”
“What new dish?”
“It is made of rice and chicken mixed together, with spices and other things. It’s called Chicken Biryani.”
“Would you be so kind as to let me savour it, good man?”
“But of course! I cannot refuse a pious man like you! Please have a seat.”
As the inn-keeper walked out of the kitchen with a plateful of Biryani, his wife, who had overheard the whole conversation, flew into a rage and hissed at her husband. “What do you think you’re doing?! The rice and chicken, and especially the spices, are very expensive. We spent a lot of money on buying the stuff. How can you just give it away for free??!!"
“But dear woman, he is a monk. I cannot take anything from him. Plus, I don’t think he carries any money with him.”
“I don’t care. I cannot give it away for free.”
The inn-keeper reluctantly walked up to the monk with the heaped plate and told him shame-facedly “Oh good monk, please pardon me. But my wife is unwilling to give this dish away for free, as it cost us a lot to prepare. We would require payment for this.”
“But I do not have any money.”
“I understand, oh monk. Is there anything else you can give in exchange?”
The monk rummaged in his bag and pulled out the only thing he could bear parting with- his bottle of rum. He handed it over to the inn-keeper, who accepted it gratefully.
“Thank you, good old man. I hope you enjoy your meal.”
The monk took a bite. He closed his eyes and let the taste of the dish sink in. He seemed to be at peace. “This is delicious. Would you mind pouring me a bit of that rum too, dear inn-keeper?”
And that’s how the monk sold his rum. He passed on the recipe to the inn-keeper,who perfected the art of making it and named it after the person who has sold it to him. Old Monk Rum.
And that’s why, to this day, Chicken Biryani tastes best with a bit of Old Monk Rum.
P.S:- No offence to monks, sages, any community, religion, or class of people. I request you to take this with a pinch of salt and a plateful of yummy Biryani.
*To know the actual story, kindly go Google it up. And send me a link if you find it.*
Dedicated to a certain somebody for introducing me to the Old Monk.
*Images courtesy Google.