Recipes

The Holi Tales

Legend says that the holy festival of Holi started with an innocent question of a curious Krishna who was teased by Radha and the other gopis for his dark skin color. Bewildered, he runs to his mother Yashoda and asks why she made him black while Radha was fair. This was pure injustice. He felt really sad about this. Yashoda, hearing this, chuckles and rubs turmeric paste on his sapphire color cheeks and sends him off saying that now his color has changed. The naughty Krishna then run and plucks some kala Jamun fruit for Radha and asks her to close her eyes so that he can feed them to her. Instead, he rubs the dark juice on her cheeks and hands and declares that she too is now dark. On seeing this, all the gopis of Vrindhavan gets overwhelmed with love. They fill their palms with fragrant oil, turmeric paste, fresh butter and start smearing each other’s faces and bodies. They fearlessly throw cheese balls, buttermilk, butter, curd, aromatic oils, and water mixed with turmeric, different fruit juices and Palash flowers extract at each other. Every devotee looked very attractive with their smiling faces and glittering white teeth. Their happy faces seemed more beautiful than the mighty Palash flowers. This incredible display of affection, love and devotion was enough to start the colorful festival of Holi.

The nostalgic memories of this colorful festival always lingers in my mind. The hustle bustle of buying colors, pichkaari (water guns), new clothes to the big list of the grocery items everything was taken care with lots of care, enthusiasm and accuracy. This festival was something everyone looked forward to. Be it for the sumptuous food, family and friends getting together, exchange of gifts or smearing each other with gulaal or color. It was always a hit and never disappointed us in any way. We had a big joint family back then and everything was done in a grand way. The preparations for the festival would start well in advance and we would be gorging on the delicious food for at least a week. Apart from the memories, the other thing which lasted for a couple more weeks were the colors peeping through parts of our face, nails, palms and feet. The enjoyment did make us stand out in our school and each time a teacher saw us, he/she would ensure we are reminded of not studying enough 🙂 But, who cares. Huh!! Its Holi!

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With the passing years, leaving home and being in a different city, I do get nostalgic each time a festival come by. I try to replicate some of the things, if not all, and try to rejoice the moments again. This year I made a full Jharkhand Holi Thaali. Now, my Maa might not agree to this. This is not even half of the Holi recipes. I know, some of the major things are missing in this. I will add them next year. Maybe. Till then, enjoy this please 🙂

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I hope and pray that each one of you reading this now, your life gets filled with colors of joy, love, enthusiasm, optimism, faith and gratitude. You give and receive love with open arms. The joy and happiness never leaves your life and you can pass the harmony to others through your deeds.

Love to all!

Simply JharkhanDish ♥

I grew up in a typical Jharkhand household, eating the rustic homecooked authentic dishes. Cooking was solely constrained to Maa, grandma and aunts. I remember the kitchen hustling and bustling from dawn till late night. We had a typical mud stove (of course apart from the kerosene stove and the gas stove) and all the major food was cooked in that. The kitchen was always filled with the aroma of different mouthwatering food. The steam arising from the different dishes, the tempering of different spices, the colorful freshly plucked veggies right from the home garden, the wooden fire and ladles dancing high and low to the tunes of the skilled hands are some of the memories which still lingers in my mind when I think of Jharkhand food.

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Back then, everyday food was mostly vegetarian. Meat, fish and eggs were either reserved for the Sunday afternoon or on the arrival of special guests. Everyday food was rustic yet delicious and fulfilled the heart, mind and soul. I barely remember ever going out and eating meals in a restaurant there. As any kid of that era would say, I loved only my Maa’s hand cooked food… and no, no one could make me think otherwise.

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Of late, while having a conversation with friends about all the different things including food, this question popped up. “What do you mean when you say a Jharkhandi thaali? I have never heard or had one ever. Do you know any place where I can go and try it?” I had no clue where they can go and try a platter of authentic Jharkhand dishes. Forget about having it in a different state, I doubt if any restaurant or Dhaba in Jharkhand itself offers anything of this kind! Well, as far as I know. This left me with only one option, to cook some of the authentic recipes or try to prepare at least something and serve it to them.

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My guests were happy and so was I. It makes me immense happy to showcase a tiny beautiful piece of the beauty from where I belong. Love, food, laughter and friends aren’t they the best gifts? I have been sharing the food memories often and will continue to do so with you all. Leaving you with a sweet note today. May the sweet potion of your life always stay with you 🙂

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Cheers!

Food, Love, Rain and Happiness…

“Beta kya khaogi? Kya bana dein? Jo v khane ka man hai bata do, sab ban jaayega…” These are the usual dialogues of my maa on my visit to my hometown. Her constant requests of letting her know about all those eatables/ delicacies which according to her I would be craving for months/ years leaving me feeling like a queen. I always stammer in those weak moments and all I can say is “khichdi”, “baingan bhaja” or a humble “aalu bhujia”. Of course it doesn’t stop there after a day or two and things keep on getting added in the “Foods to be eaten” list. As soon as the food words drop out of my mouth, maa would give instructions and my papa would get ready happily with the “plastic jhola” and head towards the market straight where he could buy the fresh supply of vegetables and meat or fish!

I always wonder from where maa gets all the strengths and the stamina to work hours in the kitchen, grinding, pounding, cutting, stirring and preparing all those mouth-watering food alone. And she can do this in a jiffy without any tension lingering over her head or batting an eyelid! I don’t think I can feel the same ever. Even when some guests are coming over or we have some festival at home and by any chance I ask my husband or friends what they would like to eat, I stand in constant fear that they shouldn’t ask for anything which would either require lots of time or work! I even get nightmares before the scheduled day! I get jittery with all those requests and wonder will ever ask the same questions to my kids!

Maa loves cooking like all the Indian mothers. She says that she finds solace, happiness and great pleasure in cooking for her near and dear ones. And what else is there to do at home? She might get bored sitting idle. Huh!! She has got loads of patience too and her own vegetables and flower garden where she tries to grow different varieties and love them as her own kids! My dad’s philosophy is that small town people are laid back. They don’t run behind monetary things and value their kids and family above everything. Spending time with them, looking for their likes and dislikes and being content with whatever they have is what their life is all about. In this so much laid back and peaceful life, they have plenty of time. And the best way to pass it is by cooking, eating and celebrating it with food, fresh home cooked food made with tons of love and care!

A buggy meetupPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

It is the monsoon (Saavan) season now. As a kid, I remember it raining all the time there and our constant efforts to dry our clothes, specially school uniforms from one place to another. Making paper boats, listening to the frogs croaking and calling their lovers, tiny snails crawling in all the places leaving their slimy trail behind and once in a while a green viper crossing our way left our tiny souls thrilled and imbibe with happiness. The lust greenery everywhere, the washed and cleaned leaves, puddles, mud, fallen trees as our playground and a huge supply of guavas from our garden.

Chawal ka cheela, home made butterPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

Amongst the rain, chaos and fun, we were supplied with lots of delicacies. Even now, whenever I go home, maa doesn’t fail me with her amazing sense of remembrance. She always comes up with those foods which were once my favorite and would always make a bad face sharing it with anyone. She would also make those delicacies which I would have forgotten or wouldn’t have asked her thinking that it would require numerous amount of work. Somehow she just gets to know I guess. At times I wonder that will I have the same sense of remembrance for my kids and will do the same amount of work for them… I doubt!

Fresh bread with malai and sugarPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

Kheerkadam mithai and besan ke gatte ki sabjiPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

For now, I am just enjoying the pictures of those mouthwatering food and living in the past. I hope everyone is enjoying the rainy season with their loved ones croaking together in joy 🙂

Stay healthy and happy folks. See you all soon.

Down the Memory Lane…

It has been raining a lot in Bangalore these days. The weather has become like warm, heartening mother’s love. Summers always bring lots of memories along with itself… doesn’t it? Suddenly the sunrises are early and more golden. The constant rain has brought back the soothing greenery and chirping happy birds everywhere. The Koyals are making these already bright days even more colorful with its constant coo-cooing and fills up the longing hearts. The mouthwatering smell of the ripening mangoes and litchis encompasses my heart and mind with the unimaginable joy… Aren’t summers beautiful?? Well to me, it holds a special place in my heart and will always do.

At home during summers years back, in those sweaty, prickly, hot afternoons when the electricity use to play hide and seek most of the times, we use to be least bothered about anything. The colorful hand decorated “bamboo-pankhas” and different types of lassis and aam-pannas were the only rescue from the hot weather those days. Most of the afternoons would be spent running around and playing with the cousins or sitting in a quiet corner of the house mastering the art of hand embroidery. Ah how I use to love doing those! This summer, I tried my hands back on making some ribbon and stumpwork embroidery. Well, I am happy that atleast I remember to hold my needle properly and make some of these lovelies!

Hand, Ribbon, Stumpwork EmbroideryPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

I remember that at home Saturday being “Shani” bhagwan’s day, it was a custom to make “Khichdi”. Actually on this particular day, something yellow has to be made and Khichdi being everyone’s favourite gave us the excuse to eat it as a delicacy on every Saturday without fail. There were varieties in which it was cooked. Some days it would be a simple moong daal and rice one and the other days it use to be filled with masalas and seasonal colorful veggies. During Durga Puja, it was made specially with mutton and served as prasad in differnt puja pandaals. Whatever goes in this humble, cozy, heart-warming food, it was always served with it’s five partners. There is a saying in Hindi which goes like this – “Khichdi ke hain paanch yaar – dahi, chokha, papad, ghee, anchar” 🙂 🙂 (Khichdi has got five friends – Curd, Mashed potatoes(chokha), fries, Ghee and pickle). I totally agree with this. I too wouldn’t feel content or call it a khichdi meal without eating it with it’s five partners. It is a must! Even on those afternoons when it rained or the chilling nights of winter, khichdi always stood as a saviour to us. Those days when the heart and stomach wanted something simple and soothing yet hot and happening, each time this humble dish came to our rescue. Till date, whenever it rains and I just want to lazy around yet long for the comfort of home, I make Khichdi. It certainly uplifts my spirit other than contenting my heart, stomach and soul.

Khichdi, Summer, Rain, Comfort FoodPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

If we see deeply, the joy of life is in the simplest things which gives happiness in their own humble ways. Isn’t that wonderful? I hope everyone enjoys their rest of the week. The weekend is soon to be here 🙂

Cheers!

Happiness is…Biriyani :)

Mutton Biriyani

The best way to enjoy life is to eat loads of delicious home cooked food. And for me, happiness comes with the smell of biriyani cooked in pure desi ghee, leveraged with big chunks of mutton pieces hanging around and loads of love in the form of cashews!! Yummm… can’t ask for any other pleasure in life for the moment 🙂

Well, my stomach is full, extremely satisfied and I am one happy soul today! 🙂 🙂

Savouring Delicacies :)

I called my mom today and it started with the same opening questions. “How are you? What had you been doing? What did you cook today?” Mom’s replies are automatic regarding food. It always starts with – “Nothing much…” even when she would have prepared enough delicacies to be served in a wedding house 🙂 🙂 Not to be surprised, even knowing what is she gonna say I always wait eagerly to listen to what all food has been prepared. As she keeps on saying each item, I go back in the memories when I was there and would relish all these food while mom or grandmom kept on swaying the beautiful hand decorated bamboo fan near us. The comfort of mom’s hand cooked food, the delicacies prepared in the most authentic ways, the masalas grinded in the seal-bata, food served in the heavy brass plates, the smell of the home grown rice, eating sitting on the small chaunkis and the fan swaying always added a charm to it! I miss those days so much. Somehow, I just want to go back in time and enjoy those moments again. But I know, that even if I do that numerous times, it is never gonna be enough!!

Doi Maach :)Photo courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

Back to where I started. So today, mom said that it was pouring over there and dad had brought fish in the morning. She didn’t feel like making too many items today because of the heavy rain and thus settled on some doi maach, fried fish, rice, moong daal and a humble mango-mint chutney 😮 No wonder my mouth started watering. I so wanted to be there and hog every damn thing she had prepared. But…!!

Anyways, another idea striked and I decided to repeat the same menu. After ten minutes of rigourous do’s and don’ts discussion I marched to the kitchen. I couldn’t create the same magic but atleast I am going to eat the same thing what is being eaten in the different part of the country! Somehow, I feel that even when two people are not together or are at a distant place, food can always bring them together. I always feel connected to my mom and my roots when I prepare the same thing (or atleast try to). It makes me feel happy, loved and miss my mom’s hand cooked food a bit less… I love you mom ♥

It has been raining here and I am just enjoying it. I guess, God had plans to create the same scene in two different worlds today so that even when we are away we can still remain connected 🙂 🙂

Forgotten Love ♥

Life suddenly becomes so blissful, bright and happy when you get to see your forgotten love infront of you again! Specially, when it is something you have craved for long enough, something for which you have thought in countless nights, something which you thought would never be able to savour your eyes and heart again and then… there it is… infront of you… right infront of you, calling you with lots and lots of love, asking you to come and embrace it and recall the good old days… to immerse yourself once again in the sweet love of “MAHUA”!!

Forgotten Love, MahuaMahua, or Madhuca longifolia, is considered sacred among the tribal people in Jharkhand because of the tree’s medicinal values. Mahua is also the source of sustenance for many in this part of the country. It grows in abundance in the state and bears flowers from the month of January till mid April. The flowers are rich in sugar, vitamins, and calcium and the tribal people mix the flowers in their daily food preparations.

Mahua sabji is one of my favourite since I was a kid. I remember my grandmother spending hours cleaning it while sitting on a charpoy outside in the verandah. It was a savoury we use to look forward to during the spring season… Luckily, on my trip to home this time, my dad could manage to get some of these beautiful flowers… just for me :D… Oh! I can’t explain the burst of happiness which rushed inside me!! I have craved for this for too long. Staying here in Bangalore, I miss lots of things which are so difficult to find. I miss the forest, the greenery, the fresh wind, the chirping birds and the different forest delicacies. When my mom made these sweet mahua with loads of love I could just think of diving in the velvety taste of this masterpiece. And there I was a content soul, happy to be the daughter of the forest once again!!

Hope to meet you again my love soon… Have a wonderful and blessed week ahead lovers!

Soulful Sunday - Crab for lunch“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti

— Soulful Sunday :)

Monday Love :)

They say that “The Earth laughs in flowers”. And if some of these flowers can be turned into golden, hot,crispy and yummy pakodas (fritters) …ummm… no one can ask for anything more!! It’s easy to impress me. I don’t need a fancy party to be happy. Just good friends, good food, and good laughs. I’m happy. I’m satisfied. I’m content. Joys of simple life!!

Pumpkin Flower PakodaThese pumpkin flower pakodas, just made my day. They are so authentic to Jharkhand and making them here miles away from my hometown, gives me the warmth of home and bring back dozens of memories running through my memory lane. I remember the first time I introduced these pakodas to my husband; he was so shocked. “How can you eat flowers as pakodas?” all could he say in his amazement. And then I showed him how by making some of these golden lovelies 🙂 :)… No wonder he loves them now. A cup of tea would just make it better for him 🙂 🙂

Surprisingly, not many people know that flat beans’ flowers and other flowers like Chinese hibiscus, lotus and gulmohar can also be made as fritters and can be enjoyed. A combination of beauty, color, taste and health. ISN’T THAT AMAZING??? 🙂 🙂

Pumpkin Flower Pakoda (Fritters)
Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 20-25 mins

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 pumpkin flowers
  • 1 cup besan (chikpea flour)
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coriander and mint leaves finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • half cup water
  • oil for frying (mustard oil is preferred)

Preparation:

  1. Wash and pat dry the pumpkin flowers. Remove stamen from the middle. There can be small insects inside which has to be removed. Ensure that you don’t wash the flowers vigorously as they are very soft and can tear off easily.
  2. Mix all the ingridiends except the pumpkin flowers and make a batter which is neither very thick or thin. For this add water gradually and keep on stirring. Stop when you get a batter as thick as pakoda batter.
  3. Heat oil for deep frying in a kadhai (wok). When the oil starts smoking lower the heat and then gently lift a pumpkin flower, dip it in the batter, turn and make sure that they are uniformly coated and then gently slide into the hot oil. Fry till golden brown on both the sides. It will take 3-4 minutes.
  4. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain it on a paper towel.
  5. For an additional zing you can sprinkle some chaat masala or rock salt on top of the pakodas.
  6. Serve hot with lots of love and if possible (if you are not as lazy as I am) with coriander and mint chutney or any sauce of your choice.
  7. Smile and enjoy 🙂

I hope everyone had a great day today wherever you are 🙂

 

Happy Holi Folks :)

Gulaal ka rang laal hai..
Gujiya ki mithaas bemisaal hai..
Sab geele hain pyaar ke paani mein..
Sab ghule hain Holi ki ravaani mein..
Rangon ke tyohar me sabhi rangon ki ho bharmar..
Dher saari khushiyo se bhara ho aapka sansar..
Sunhari dhoop barsaat ke baad..
Thodi si hassi har baat ke baad..
Usi tarah ho mubahrak aapko ye nayi subah..
Yahi dua hai bhagwan se humari har baar..
Rangon ki bahaar hai..
Sab mein jhalakta pyaar hai..
Sab jhoom naacho gaao aaj “Holi” ka tyohaar hai..
Makki ki roti, Nimbu ka aachar,
Suraj ki kirne, Khushiyo ki bahar,
Chand ki chandi, Apno ka pyar,
Mubarak ho aapko, HOLI ka tyohar!!

“आप सभी को होली की ढेर सारी शुभकामनाएं….”

Happy Holi Folks :)
Photo courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

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