Jharkhand

Durga Puja Tales

Like every year, Maa Durga arrived on her special ride, stayed with us for those auspicious ten days and then departed, leaving us craving for yet another year of her homecoming again. Before leaving, she blessed us with health, happiness, food and loads of memories. For me, Durga Puja has always been a reminder that happiness find its way home. The rejuvenating and scintillating feeling of loved ones reuniting and celebrating the festival together has a charm of its’ own. Durga Puja means we are still alive, still together and still bonded.

The blazing LED lights, thousands of people dressed so elegantly in new stiff clothes hovering over the pandals and the different food vendors outside, chit-chatting excitedly and happily like the sparrows; makes me believe that if happiness is somewhere, it is right here, right here in this moment, the moment I am living right now!

Durga Puja is nostalgic. The essence of the festival, the holy atmosphere and all around happy faces brings solace, peace and the calmness to the tired souls. The feeling of being alive and not just breathing is divine. Every happy soul looks beautiful. It makes me believe that beauty still exists in people’s smile, a hearty laughter and in the glistening of tired eyes.

Being raised in a joint family, the arrival of Durga Puja meant new clothes, loads and loads of delicious festive foods, guests swarming over, hot discussions on which block’s (colony’s) pandal is the best, places (vendors) who are serving the best puchkas, chowmins, ghugni-chaats and other street delicacies. Loads of different shape and size balloons made a way in our home. The sheer excitement of holidays, friends, food, pandal visits and Maa Durga! Touching the feet of elders and getting a ten rupees new note along with their blessings. We often wondered seeing that note what all can be bought with that. Might be a whole dreamy world?

One of the other things which I remember and use to get really pepped up seeing was married woman wearing loads of bright red color sindoor on their neatly parted just washed hair, the sankha-pola and dozens of matching glass bangles, the bright colored neatly plated sarees and the alta painted feet. There is something really special about seeing ladies all dressed up like this. This is the only form I can fathom of my Maa whenever I think of her. The serenity, the poise, the calmness and the charming characters which she possesses, I wonder if I can ever be like her?

Every day of the puja is marked with a special food. Like Saptami having ghugni-chaat with lots of aalu chop and beguni. Astmi has to have poori, aalu dum, kheer, tomato-imli chutney, matar pulao and papad. Navmi can’t be complete without plain rice or tehri, mutton curry, thick homemade curd, salads and loads of mithai. Oh! The heavenly food!

Durga Puja, ghughni chaat, aalu chop, hindu festival, Maa Durga, besan k laddoo, nostalgia, memories, love, foodBalakrishnan K

This year, while talking to Maa over phone, she did mention making these at home. She even subtly told me that she can not feel the same old charm, the excitement and the happiness of Puja anymore. I know the rapid downfall of joint families and kids migrating to different cities for different reasons leaving back their old aging parents, play a major role in them feeling lonely. I know that the four old eyes wanted me to be there, badly. I just hope that I will be able to fulfill their wish next year and make their souls blossom like old times again 🙂

Durga Puja, ghughni chaat, aalu chop, hindu festival, Maa Durga, besan k laddoo, nostalgia, memories, love, foodBalakrishnan K

Over the years, things have changed drastically. But I guess, the bottom line is the same. Be happy, celebrate happiness, eat, pray and love. Waiting for the next Durga Puja already. I hope everyone feels as blessed and happy or more as I feel today.


HAPPY DUSSHERA READERS!

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.

Jharkhand Thaali Menu, Jharkhand Thaali, Thaali, Jharkhandi thaali, vegeterian thaali, colorful, full meal thaali, rustic food, rustic Jharkhand food, homecooked, homemadeBalakrishnan K

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.

Jharkhand Thaali Menu, Jharkhand Thaali, Thaali, Jharkhandi thaali, vegeterian thaali, colorful, full meal thaali, rustic food, rustic Jharkhand food, homecooked, homemade, Non-vegeterianBalakrishnan K

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.

Jharkhand Thaali Menu, Jharkhand Thaali, Thaali, Jharkhandi thaali, vegeterian thaali, colorful, full meal thaali, rustic food, rustic Jharkhand food, homecooked, homemade, Dhuska, Jharkhand Special, SpecialityBalakrishnan K

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 🙂

Jharkhand Thaali Menu, Jharkhand Thaali, Thaali, Jharkhandi thaali, vegeterian thaali, colorful, full meal thaali, rustic food, rustic Jharkhand food, homecooked, homemade, Sweet, Jharkhand Special, Speciality, poha, chivda, chuda pulao, meetha pulao, meetha, dessertBalakrishnan K

Cheers!

To Time, Togetherness and Beyond

It is a warm, cosy, bright, sunny afternoon today. Here I am, sitting with my legs crossed on my bed and wondering about the time spent with my family a few weeks back. Time flies… Yes! it does. And it does really fast. The jokes, laughter, gossips, food once shared or just being together, together in that very moment… leaves back tonne of memories, love, happiness, solace and peace in the tiny treasures held tightly in our hearts. When these moments get over… we realize how much we miss them and all of a sudden our hearts fill with anger, frustration and bewilderment. And when these feelings too fade away, all what is left is Loneliness.

Loneliness, family, loved ones, happiness, joy, time, memoriesPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K

How you feel in any one moment is more important than anything else, because how you feel right now is creating your life. ~ Rhonda Byrne

Together Forever, family, love, life, time, moments, precious, lifePhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K

Whenever someone leave, they leave behind a big void in our heart… even if it is just for some time. We cherish, remember, cry, crib for those moments. Over time, I have realized how much change time can bring in a person. I wonder, is it the same person whom I have known or thought to be all my life? Change is persistent. I know. But don’t we, at times, want things to be the same all through our life? The same how we remember it to be, have believed to be, have cherished to be and have loved to be!

Vegetable Chop, street food, Jharkhand, Love for food, Love, Moms foodPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K

Life isn’t always what we expect it to be. Being around with our loved ones weaving memories together is always a thing to cherish and behold. These classic moments if celebrated with food enhances the essence of these times. A month back, when my mom was here, we celebrated Durga Puja with some crispy, hot, yummy vegetable chops. It did help in removing some of the longings of being at my home town during this much awaited festival. Don’t we, in such times, need something to soothe our souls, something very calming, something very refreshing, something which connects us to our roots? Atleast, it was a happy ending 🙂

Continue making memories folks. Adieu, until we meet again…

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.

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!

A trip to home…

Yes, it finally happened! I went to the place I belong to, the place I love for its simplicity, carefree life and the endless unconditional love. Where you shower in blessings, get poured with buckets and buckets of benevolentlove, eat whatever, whenever, however and how much ever your heart desires. Gaining some extra kilos in these trips because of the stupendous welcome is not even a matter to be bothered about 🙂

Whenever I go home, I feel so relaxed. I can just order for anything I want, do whatever I want and can least bother about the stupid deadlines and hours of stressful work. The undaunted attention given to me imbibes my heart and soul with respect, love and a desire to hold that every moment which passes by. They never ask you whether you want a certain item or not. They just give it to you. As if they knew even without you telling them what you need at that very moment. I can go and eat in the five star restaurants but still will die for mom’s hand cooked delicacies. Even a humble roti, subzi tastes lots more delicious than any other food cooked or served in any restaurant. The love, care, affection and food bestowed on us by my parents are unbeatable. I always wonder how do they manage to be so humble, patient and hopeful all the time? How can they never get tired by all the work which comes along with the kids? I hope I will have these values in me someday.

HomecomingPhoto courtesy: Balakrishnan K | www.utopianhere.com

The other thing which mesmerises me is the way all the ladies dress up there. Those perfectly pleated cotton sarees, hair neatly partioned into two and filled with the auspicious blazing red sindoor, hands decorated with heena wearing the sanka-pola and matching glass bangles, the big red bindi, feet beautifully decorated with alta, the glistering silver toerings and the magnificient aura they carry. It is just so beautiful. Back at home, everything is so different. The way people interact, think, care and love each other tells a totally different saga than the usual nip-nucks here in the bigger cities. I love the fact that even when you just bump into anyone’s house unannounced, they serve you with fresh, home cooked delicacies like samosas, nimkis, thekuas, pakoda and what not unlike the usual tea and some packed snacks served in expensive tea sets in the big cities here. As, a kid, I remember whenever we use to go to any auntie’s house, she would get up after five minutes of talking and just rush to the kitchen. My eyes would glitter with the thought of those upcoming mouthwatering, delicious hot samosas being served with tangy tomato and date chutney. Pedas and kheerkadam were my favourite. I was least interested in the gossips and grown-up talks and would give my full attention to the samosas.

With passing time, children visiting their families have become so rare that whenever they come home it is a celebration for everyone. A time for the families to get together, cherish the daughter’s homecoming and gather all the moments of their presence in their heart. There was a time when coming home after years together or for a very short duration meant that the town is inaccessible or several different trains and buses away. The transportation problem has mostly been solved now. The only persisting problems are the deadlines and the leave restrictions. Still, isn’t it true that how much ever far we go away, our hometown, our land always remain closest to our heart. We find solace in these small towns which can’t give you loads of money but is capable of giving all that what money can’t buy!

Part of me always wonder that why all good things and days have to end so fast?? We long for them for so long and then it finally arrives, bringing loads of love, laughter, happiness and care and then within the blink of an eye it gets over! We remain surrounded by the same vaccum, longing and the nonending robotic life. But then as my mom says – “Good things have to end. So that we value what we have in our lives and cherish those moments/days each time they come with more love and enthusiasm.”

Hope everyone is having a great night! Right now I’m listening to the rain hitting the ground outside my room which is so soothing to the ears. I love the summer rain!!

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 Sarhul Everyone :)

Sarhul Photo courtesy: Niranjan Kujur | Flickr

“Sarhul” is one of the grand festival of the tribals in Jharkhand and Odisha. This festival is celebrated on Chaitra Shukla Tritiya, the third day of bright half moon in Chaitra month. “Sarhul” is celebrated during spring season when the Shaal/Sakhua trees get new leaves. This festival, is too much related with Shaal tree and the earth and the Sun. In fact this festival is related to the whole of nature!! It is a worship of the village deity who is considered to be the protector of the tribes and the festival is also marked as the beginning of the New Year. People sing and dance a lot when the sprouting happens. The deities are worshiped with shaal flowers. These flowers represents the brotherhood and friendship among villagers. Pahan the priest, distributes shaal flowers to every villager. Rice wine called “Handia” is then distributed among villagers as prasad. Traditional group dance, music and feasting with gay abandon are the highlights of the festival.

I wish that the new year brings lots of happiness, prosperity and success in everyone’s life.

HAPPY SARHUL 😀

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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