Monday, 29 April 2013

A little of this and a little of that ... 2

While browsing through Kichu Khonn, a few days ago, I came across this beautiful post of mine ...
A little of this and a little of that . And was overwhelmed with a feeling of deja vu.
The photos and their describe took me back in time ... though I must admit I had to plough through the days and months back.

But things are picking up now.
It does take a lot of will power as well as good will ... I must say.
And it was not easy. 

Just as moving to a new place was not easy.
I had never moved in my life. Just once, when I left home for studies. Then settled down in the same city, where I grew as a person. Learning life, making friends, setting up a home. Moving ahead in life.
And then comes this huge change. Totally uprooted ... and the new city hit me smack on the face.  Everything  felt different. The weather, the distances, the traffic, the food ... everything. Hordes of friends and relatives, sweeping down on us with all good intentions, did not help.
As didn't the ill health.

I was homesick ... to the point of actually not being myself for a while.
Morose, lost, uncharacteristically impulsive, angry ... gosh!
People used to the old me were left very puzzled. :-)
But I was lonely, I missed bumping into friends, catching a girls day out, cooking and spending time with close friends at informal gatherings, my library, my home, my kitchen ... I missed a whole lot of things.

But pleasant surprises started to line up. I started to notice that the roads did not look unfamiliar within a few days. I could actually give directions to the man when driving without the GPS.
The people are warm and very polite.
The food is a welcome change ... we are still discovering new places to eat at with much enthusiasm.

I slowly started to notice that our adopted state looked and felt very familiar ... the balmy weather and the red coloured soil, the huge fruit laden trees like the jackfruit and mango trees, the torrential downpours with proper thunder and lightening  ... reminded me so much of my home state where I grew up.
Along with its abundantly available fresh vegetables and fruits ... I haven't bought cold storage vegetables ever since I came here ...  with its surprises in sudden rains, cloudy days that broke into beautiful evenings .... with its warmth. 
We love to  explore new places and we are getting way too many choices here.
Am so looking forward to visit them.

This is a place I'll be calling home for the next few months. :-)
Settling down in the rhythm of daily chores again, this is where am getting my calm back.

Where music has made its way back into my life.

 Where the quiet gently settles on the soul. Where the sun warms the world, the green soothes.

Where I'm trying to set up house again ... a house we can call home.

Where  quiet, foggy mornings are beautiful.

 Where the view from my kitchen window makes me stop ever so often and keep looking out at the meandering, red road ... wondering where it leads to.
Making me hum "Graam chaara oi raanga maatir poth .... " , at least once a day.

 Where the same window turns mysterious on foggy mornings. I often stand there with a hot cuppa ... thinking how change works in life. Days change, people change, thoughts change, tolerance too.
Where I'm starting a new garden, trying not to remember the old one I left behind.

Where I watch this old cowherd walking down this path everyday ... oblivious to all. 

 Where afternoons are languorously stretched ...

Where I can view the sun first, rising quietly, for the day ahead.

Where I have my old friends beside me ... always.

 Where evenings cast a warm, reassuring glow.

 Where Bappa stays on with me, holding my hand ... always.

 No recipes today folks! 
But soon... very soon.
Here's to the roller coaster called Life ... cheers!! :-)

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Peyajkolir Jhaal / Onion stalks in mustard paste

No rants today. No ramblings either. But I really need to make a post else I will never be able to clear up the backlog of photographs and move on to newer recipes that I have been making recently.
So there ...

This recipe has been waiting in the sidelines for quite a while now. I had made these with the rest of the bunch of peyaj koli that I had got for the bhaja or the fry.

This jhaal was always made in winter, as that is the time when we get the peyajkoli. Served with a simple dal and steaming hot plain rice, sometimes small fish  or bori/badi would be added to it too.
This still reminds me of the lunches at home, when the whole dining set up would be shifted to the South facing French windows of the dining room ... where we could get the warmth of the sun on us while we ate.

Even in today's time of cold storages and supermarkets, where we easily get other winter veggies like the carrot, cauliflower and cabbages, all year through, the peyaj koli still makes it presence only in winter.

And just like the addition of the fresh coriander leaf, again a winter product, to a dish , still brings on a wave of nostalgia, so does the presence of peyaj koli on the plate ... be it the simple bhaja or this jhaal ... reaffirms that winter is around. Still.

 Need :
Peyaj koli / Onion stalks - cleaned and cut into medium sized strips
Potatoes - peeled and cut into thick strips
Mustard paste
Tomatoes - chopped
Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds
Fresh green chillies
Turmeric powder
Mustard oil

How to
Heat a little mustard oil.
Add the kalo jeere and green chillies (remember to break the chillies else they'll burst open).
Add the potatoes and stir fry on high heat for a while.
Add the peyaj koli, turmeric powder and salt.
Cover and cook till the potatoes are done.
The peyaj koli will release a lot of water ... now add the mustard paste and stir well.
Then add the tomatoes and a pinch of sugar and cook till all water dries up.
Remove from heat.

Serve hot with plain rice.

PS: Those who have been asking after and giving me gentle nudges to restart my Travelogue, here's a good news for them.
Kichu Onno Golpo is awake from its slumber now. :-)
Hop over to accompany me on my trips and travels all over the country.

And yes, it is on Face Book too.
You like it here? Go 'LIKE' it there.... Kichu Onno Golpo

C'ya all there! :-)

Monday, 15 April 2013

Subho Nobo Borsho 1420!

A new year.
Filled with new hope.
That the days to come will be better.
That the moments coming will be filled with more cheer.

More of whatever we always wish for.
More of goodness and the good.
More of the happiness that we have been able to spread till now.
More of the goodwill that prevails.

Every dawn brings newness.
Every dawn brings a load of moments that we are handed with.
To fill them with everything beautiful, everything auspicious.

Every dawn gives us the power to create good.
The power to spread happiness.

May the New year be filled with many more such dawns for all of us.
And may we have the good in us
to be able to make each day brighter for those around us,
for those who want to be with us.

May the New year be filled with many such dawns
that make us good people,
going from good to betterment.
Always spreading laughter and smiles.
Always spreading love.

Thank you all for being with Kichu Khon all the time,
wishing, caring and staying.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Laal shaaker daatar tauk / Amaranth stems in a tangy gravy

"Aww Suro, dey na baba koyeta laal daata tuley ... naatni ta amar aasche aaj." 

 So started the days in my Dadu's house, every time I went there.
Thamma would call out to the helps to pick some good, soft daata or the stems of the Amaranth shrub.
To make the tauk.
Spicy, tangy, sometimes so sour that we would make smacking noises after every mouthful.
And get disapproving glances from her ... of course.
She made the best daatar tauk. 
And she knew I loved it.

The huge uthon or the open area in the centre of Dadu's house had a few of Thamma's favourite plants.
The laal shaak was one of them.
Those who have not seen this plant will have no idea how 
big and sturdy a plant this turns out to be ...
if it gets enough space to grow.
And the stems or small branches are used to make a chorchori, jhaal or the tauk. 
Thamma made a wonderful jhaal out of these too ... 
hope to post that too one day.

Once Suro had picked the proper daatas, he would keep them with the rest of the vegetables
kept selected to be cooked for the day's lunch.
The maid would get instructions to remember to soak some mustard seeds too ...
along with the rest of the masalas like jeera, dry red chillies, turmeric, etc.
to be ground to pastes for the day's menu.

I don't know why I loved this tauk made by Thamma.
Ma had tried making it for me too at home ... nah ...
did not like it.
Even when it was cooked by the Kakimas, I would reject it.
Only Thamma knew how to make the perfect daatar tauk.
And she loved cooking it for me.

 After I left home, I hardly ever got to taste that tauk on my visits or vacations.
Thamma was aging.
On one of my visits I noticed the uthon lying barren.
Except the old Tulsi plant, not a single green to be seen.
The corner where stood a bright, big laal shaak plant was dark; lonely.
I had stood there for a long time ... memories haunting me.
That bright sunlit corner, a proud, red plant standing tall. And wide.
It's red leaves shining with health,
swaying in a light breeze.
And the whole kitchen area around it abuzz with the day's activities ...
Thamma's voice spreading all over like a loving blanket.
Supervising, instructing,getting things done. 

The last time I visited Thamma, she was very ill.
We knew she was going.
She couldn't recognise people. Had given up eating too.
But she recognised me.
With eyes closed, she had called my name.
And complained ... 
"Koto korey tor Maa ke bollam, ektu laal shaaker chara eney ditey ... dilo ni!
Tor jonne daatar tauk ta o korte parlam ni re. "
(She had asked my mom, in futile,  to get some laal shaak saplings ... and was unhappy
she could not make the tauk for me).
Miss you Thamma. 

After Thamma left us, I had given up eating the daatar tauk.
Ma had tried, but I just could not.
She knew each of her grandchildren's favourite dish and cooked them.
For me, it was her daatar tauk.
 I could never forget it ... along with her. 
So kept talking about it to my friends, on FB, often.
And they encouraged me to make it for myself.
Said that Thamma would be happy to see that I'm making it after her.

So I cooked it.
It definitely was not like Thamma's ... but worked like a balm on my soul.
I'm sure Thamma is proud.

Need :
Small stems of the Amaranth - peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
Mustard paste ( not too much ... around 1 tbsp for a cupful of stems )
Whole mustard seeds
Fresh green chillies
A little mustard oil
Turmeric powder
Tamarind pulp
( Thamma used to make this with dried mango pieces that we Bengalis call as Amchur.
Since I do not get it easily, I used the tamarind. )

How to :

Heat a little mustard oil in a wok / kadahi.
Add the mustard seeds. 
When they start to splutter, add the green chillies and the stems.
Stir fry for a while.
Add a little turmeric powder, salt and enough water to cover the stems.
Add the mustard paste.
Cover and cook till the stems are done.
Remove cover and add tamarind pulp and a little sugar.
Stir and let it simmer for a while.
Remove from heat. 

Serve cool.
Tauks ... or sour dishes ... are eaten had at the end of a Bengali meal ... usually lunch. 
So enjoy this after a filling lunch of rice,dal, some bhajas and fish.
I love to eat this at the end with a little plain rice,
with a lot of fresh green chilli mashed in.


Saturday, 6 April 2013

Crispy Kumro / Crispy fried Pumpkin slices

 It rained last night.
Washing away all the dirt, the hurt, the pains.
Washing away all the nooks and corners of life, of our days, of our hearts.
Blissful rain.
On a parched soul. A tired soul.
A soul that soaked up the cool and the soothing spray with much thirst.
And when it swiped an already wet cheek with a much wet palm of air, the soul found a resting moment.

It had been a long, tired day.
With some hurt sprinkled on.
So the rain brought a sense of calm. A sense of peace.
And I found solitude ... after the longest time.
In the quiet of the night, I found my thoughts back.
Had been flowing along aimlessly too much these days.
Letting people and life take me along.
Where ever they went.
Tonight ... in the soothing sound of the pouring rains ... I found my thoughts back.

 Have been bobbing on the waves of life a little too much recently.
No directions, no path ways.
Do not know what I have been waiting for all these days.
Trying to settle in ... in life ... is way too difficult.
Especially after change.
So realised a little too late.

But that is what life is all about.
Lulls you into a sense of familiarity ... a sense of belonging.
And then ... wham!
Wakes you with a jolt .... calling you 'worthless!'.
'Go make a name, do something!'.
That is life.
But my jolt was a cushioned one.
On a cooling, rain soaked night.
So here I am ... ready to face another day ...
but this time with solitude.
A solitary soul on a solitary path. :-)

 These crispy fried pumpkin slices are the tastiest in the list of simple foods.
Fried here is healthy fried.
Like a sprinkle of oil on a tawa.
Flip these around a couple of times and you have the crispiest slices that have a natural sweetness of the pumpkin inside.
Coating vegetables with rice flour, instead of besan, is common in Orissa.
It is know as pithau bhaja there.
That way, they stay crisp longer. Even after they have cooled down.

Need :
Pumpkin - thinly sliced
Rice flour - enough to coat the slices
Salt - a little
Oil - to fry ( I used mustard oil )

How to :

Mix everything together, except the oil.
Heat a flat tawa and smear it well with a little oil.
Use very little ... the pumpkin slices will release back the oil after they are fried.
Place the slices on the tawa and cover.
When one side has lightly browned, flip them over and cook the other side too.

Serve hot.
Great on the side of any meal.
Or on their own with a hot cuppa, on a rain soaked evening.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Shorshe Potol / Pointed gourd cooked in mustard paste

 There ... another week gone!
No posts. Too busy.
Well ... too busy doing what?
Nothing at all.
Except for coping with a bad cold ... that decided to settle in me ... not letting go.
Except for trying again ... honest trying ... to settle into a new place.
Except for getting wrongly diagonised, getting stuffed with a high dose of the wrong antibiotics.
And then getting a 2nd opinion and the hang of the ways of treating illnesses in a place by new doctors.
Except for missing my home, my city, my doctor.
Nah ... did nothing ... almost.

But crib I'll not.
Not until things go way, way bad ... as they wont to happen in my life.
So will keep the cribbing for later.
Anyway ... even if I do ... won't matter to nabady .... nabady at'll.
You see ... nobody reads my posts these days. :-)
Except for a few good old friends that this blogging world has given me.
So if you are here ... and you have read so far ... and are going to read on ...
you get a huge thanks from me.

I don't do much giveaways ... else would have given you a goodie bag too.
Maybe I'll just write all my worldly possessions ... including my newest accessory ... my inhaler ... to you.
Am grateful ... you see ... very grateful that you are here.

Today's post will be my very vegetarian dish ... the Shorshe Potol. 
The sweetness of fresh potol / parwal, the tang of fresh mustard paste and the sweetness of coconut ... 
this dish can happily turn a simple meal of dal and rice to something 
finger licking good.

I sometimes add the coconut to the soaked mustard seeds and grind them together.
Helps in 2 ways ... 
helps the mustard to get ground easily
and takes away the slight bitterness that the skin sometimes gives out.
But today's post has the coconut added separately ...
 only because I had freshly grated coconut at hand.

Need :
Potol / Parwal / Pointed gourd - washed, the skin slightly scraped and cut into 4 pieces
Potatoes - peeled and cut into medium sized cubes
Onions - chopped into small pieces
Mustard paste
Freshly grated coconut
Mustard oil
Fresh green chillies
Kalo jeere/Nigella seeds/Kalonji
Salt - to taste

How to :

Heat oil in a wok / kadahi.
Add the kalaonji seeds and the green chillies.
Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent.
Now add the potatoes and fry for a while.
Then add the parwal, salt and cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
Remove cover and add mustard paste and the coconut.
If needed add some water to bring everything together.
Cover and cook ... checking in between ... till the whole thing comes together.
Remember ... mustard paste, if cooked for too long tends to turn bitter.
So do not forget to do a taste check.
Remove from heat.

Serve hot, on the side with steamed rice and a dal.