Summer

Jharkhand food series – 03

I opened my sleepy eyes one summer morning and looked outside. My bedroom window opened straight in the garden and I could see the lavish greenery, blooming flowers and chirping birds right from my cozy bed. My eyes wandered with a tiny sparrow chirping and hopping from one branch to another. It was on it’s own. As if it didn’t bother of anything and just wandered alone singing it’s own songs and loving her own company. Flying rhythmatically it sat on our iron gate. It appeared so tiny there but somehow blended with the grayish-black rusting gate. The sparrow sat there for a minute, twerked her head for a while and flew away. Might be she remembered her daily duties and took off to accomplish that?

It was then, when I suddenly noticed, how ordinary the gate looked. Of course, it had the charm of standing there since a decade. So what it has started rusting a bit? So what if it makes that cracking sound when opened? So what if it has deformed from places a bit? It still is the gate I would always love to open and come back in my this house. The house which gave me an identity, solace and unconditional love. That’s the door which leads me to my heaven on earth. But, still my heart cringed for something. It was time to leave the bed and my thoughts, so that’s what I did and got totally lost in my routine life.

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Balakrishnan Kaliyaperumal

The next morning, I woke up to the chirping again. But today, it was different. It was more robust. It seemed happier. I hastily opened my eyes and felt the garden looked more alive today. There was this sparrow meeting happening and everyone seemed too excited to put their views forward. I wondered if it drizzled a bit in the morning. The leaves in the garden looked fresh and danced with the wind. The colorful bougainvillea flowers too were clean, fresh and danced rhythmically today.

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Balakrishnan Kaliyaperumal

I guess the meeting ended on a very happy note. Everyone seemed so excited and content and flew together and sat on the iron gate again. My sleepy eyes opened wide. The gate was painted in a cool blue color. It didn’t look ordinary any more. It looked so extraordinary suddenly. It radiated energy, happiness and coolness all around. It looked so fresh and radiant. My heart swell up with happiness. I ran towards the gate to have a closer look. The gate was mended and painted. The swirls and climbers around it looked happy and great too. The sparrows were still sitting there chirping loudly. It seemed they wanted to tell the whole world how happy they were today. Their happiness was spreading like the sun’s beam on a dark spot. Enlightening everyone who came it’s way. Soon the gate was full of more sparrows, parrots, mynas and other colorful birds chirping loudly and hopping in excitement. I wondered what was the talk about?

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Gulmohar Doodles

I realized on that day that any ordinary thing can be made into an extraordinary element. It just need some patience, hard-work and tons of love. Anything can be achieved and can be given a new form and life if one has perseverance. Growing up in a small town, I saw and imbibed that in myself. I saw my grandmother and mother trying to make extraordinary things out of ordinary stuffs. No internet and not much ways of transferring or gaining knowledge yet they knew a lot. Everything was passed down from generation after generation. The quest to try, the zeal to learn and the willingness to fail and achieve. They always surprised me of their creativity. I am happy and feel blessed to have learned things from them. It is a blessing which can be passed on to another generation. And I thrive to do the same.

When my mom got married and came to my father’s home, she brought with her all the wisdom and knowledge which my Naanima (maternal grandmother) passed on to her. Along with her side jewelries and dresses she also brought her mother’s cuisine with her. That was the charm. Two families coming together. Both from the same state but a totally different way of food preparation, ingredients and taste. My folks never believed in wasting food. I remember eating lots of curries made out of peels, flowers, leaves and young branches of different vegetable plants/ creepers. It was my mother who started making the watermelon rind dry curry and even when people retaliated in the beginning, they soon started looking forward to it. It was a big hit at home. Summer meant “tarbooz k chilke ka bhujia”. Everyone loved it. Of course we made murabba out of it too. But, the bhujia remained my favourite.

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Gulmohar Doodles

So you see, it would be a lie if I tell you that every time I get to see a watermelon, I don’t think about the watermelon ridge bhujia/curry and salivate. This bhujia is one of the special food which was prepared without fail whenever a big fat watermelon was brought home during the summers. It is packed with nutrients. Health was the primary thing even back then. Food was organic, home grown, nutritious and mouth watering. How I miss eating one more morsel of this bhujia wrapped in generous amount of ghee rice from my grandmother’s hand 😔

I will be posting the recipe soon. Do try making it and let me know how you liked it? Will you? Sending warmth and love your way till we meet again 😊

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!

Mango Mania…

Where I grew up, there was a massive, enormously fertile mango garden right in front of our house. Every summer the trees would get laden with lots and lots of mangoes and children would start hovering over to steal and fill their stomach with its sour-sweet flavour escaping their lunch. The branches hung low and welcomed everyone gracefully to come and get a taste of what it had to offer… it welcomed everyone in its cool shade and gave them memories to cherish a lifetime! I remember spending the hottest summer afternoon lingering around the garden with my sisters and brother. We wholeheartedly gave them the adoration they deserved.

My mother would collect loads of mangoes in the morning while sending us off during the morning school. It was a routine to get up early (around 4:00 am) and get ready as soon as possible so that we could help mom collect them. We would count it as big achievements holding the morning picks in our small palms. Simple joys of life! I remember, mom sitting in the afternoon, escaping her afternoon nap, cutting mangoes in cubes and then making them into pickles. There were huge glass jars, which she pampered like infants and we were always prohibited from touching them. But, how much ever she tried, we would always open the jar lids and gobble the pickle as soon as it was kept in the sun…

Every afternoon, mango-mint chutney was a must. The sweet mango pickle she used to make was my all time favourite. The aam-panna which was made by cooking raw mango in firewood in the evening, was a drink we always looked forward to in the summers. No guest would be allowed to leave before drinking the refreshing sherbat.

And when the mangoes ripen, there would be someone or else who would come from the village with sacks full of mangoes and those would be stored neatly over newly placed hay on the floor. It was the mango season and all we did was eat, drink, play and cherish THE MANGO! Ahh… good old childhood days!!

Aam ki phirni

Back to the present. I can’t run around in the mango grooves anymore as there are none around my house. That’s why me and my husband are content eating this aam ki phirni for today 🙂 🙂

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and the rain and not to forget the magnificient AAM. Kyunki aam ka season baar-baar nahi aata 😉 🙂

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