Sunday, March 07, 2010
That I love Food---is by now well known and well established to my Spark Friends---that the fact I used to live to eat---another well known and well established fact----also that all that has landed me in this mess---the ULTIMATE fact of all facts!!!
My cravings were at the peak during my preganncies----for specific types of Food---from particular Culinary outlets-----in different geographical locations of Mumbai.In India we love spicy Stuff called "Chaat" which is a mixture of various Ingredients---each type has a different taste and uses variety of Fried and roasted Food.For example "Bhel" is a spicy mix of roasted Peanuts,roasted Chick Peas , finely chopped Shallots,Fresh Coriander Leaves,finely chopped raw Green Mango or Tomatoes, Puffed Rice(Kurmura/Murmura) and "Sev"(spicy fried Chick Pea flour Vermicelli) crushed Fried "Papdies"(crisp flat and thick Flour Discs) all mixed together with Hot Green Chutney,Sweet Date and Tamarind Chutney and Spicy garlic Chutney.All of this is tossed well together to mix well and served with a squeeze of Lemon in "Dronas"or Cups made from dried Leaves----simply YUUUMMMMMY to eat!!!
During both my preganancies I would get an uncontrollable urge to eat this ----poor Sudhir would drive me across the length and breadth of Bombay just to satisfy this craving---one day it could be Girgaum Chowpatty Beach---another day Juhu Beach!!!The other favourites were "Dahi Bhalley"("Dahi Vadey"in Mumbai) these are soft,soggy balls of Black Gram(Urad Dal) in a whipped Yoghurt Sauce.These are made from Black Gram(Urad)Dal--------washed and soaked for 3-5 hours and then seasoned with certain spices and ground to a thick batter.Spoonfuls of this batter are deep fried in Oil and soaked in Water seasoned with Asafoetida Powder to remove the excess Oil.These are then squeezed to remove the excess Water and covered in whipped spiced Yoghurt---topped with the Chutneys---a favourite Summer cooler in India!!!There was "Dahi Batata Puri" too as it is called in Mumbai-----is puffed deep fried crisp Flour Balls---hollow in the centers----- these are then stuffed with lightly spiced boiled mashed Potatoes and Sprouted Mung Beans in the centers and coated with smooth well blended Yoghurt with the Chutneys added on top---ohhhhh they taste soooo gooood!!!Then "Sev Puri" too was a favourite--- deep fried crisp flat discs of Flour topped with spiced boiled mashed Potatoes,finely chopped Shallots and fine "Sev" and the spicy Chutneys----the spicier the better!!!Each Cart has a unique flavour--and each area it's different type of Spices.These make the tongue dance with pleasure---spicy hot,sweet and crisp----in some cases the cool smothness of Yoghurt too------you've got to taste these to know what it's like----just addictive!!!
If I had stopped at this it still would have passed off after the birth of my daughters but by then the craving had grown even stronger---new varieties were added as I became more familiar with these type of Food joints in Mumbai--------"Ragda Patties","Chholey Bhaturey","Paav Bhaji" swimming in Butter and Cheese---dear God---what a glutton I was!!!Today the very thought of the quantities I used to consume makes me sick---wish it had then!!!
We had by now shifted to our own flat---and I had joined the "Kitty Party" round in our Condominium Complex.Each month on a certain day about 15-20 of us women would meet for Tea and Snacks in the afternoon----we'd collect a certain pre-decided sum of money----and cast Chits.One person's name would be called out---that lady would get the sum----and the next party would be held in her home---this was the format.Those were fun days----we'd discuss our kids and husbands and generally bond as friends---clean wholesome fun---accompanied by a large variety of fantastic home cooked Snacks.Each one of us wanted to outdo the earlier parties-----and so we'd cook a variety of dishes---otherwise how would our culinary expertise be showcased????The question of eating Dinner that day after the gargantuan Feasts didn't arise---at all!!!That day we all ensured great Dinners---the husbands were very particular about the Food served at home that day----and would taunt us if it wasn't up to scratch!!!Those were truly fun days and I remained a member of our Kitty Party till 2002 December when a bout of Dengue put paid to some of my most enjoyable moments!!!
Thanks to the Liver problems that developed post Dengue,I had to cut down on my eating habits and a new cycle began.The stomach doesn't have a brain--it just has needs and feeds programmed into it's micro-chip---that causes the worst problems.Now I'd eat the prescribed Food---stomach would be full---but----no satisfaction in being full!!!It took me a long time to come to terms with the diet I eat today-----and looking back I feel that a little moderation could have saved me a lot of pain.However,today I take heart in the wave of awareness being shown by people all over the World in eating halthier Food and enjoying a much Healthier life style!!!Amen!!!
Saturday, March 06, 2010
The name may sound strange to those who aren't aware of it----those who are will connect instantly-----it is Mumbai's Prime Bohemian Identity----for the past fifty years and more it has been the Meeting Point for who's who in Mumbai's Art Circle----many famous names have graced it with their presence-----for folks like me it is an integral part of my married life----my daughters love it too!!!It is not a posh place---it's very ambience is laid back and very casual but there is a certain something about it that catches your attention----and your fancy!!!
It was started in the Verandah of Jehangir Art gallery in 1965 or 66 by Mrs.Usha Khanna------it was a Tea joint--serving initially Tea and Biscuits to the artists who exhibited their Paintings in the two huge halls there-----B.Vithal,Prabha Vithal, Anjolie Ela Menon,M.F. Husain to name just a few,From this modest beginning it gradually developed and grew to a small informal Eaterie-----home cooked type Food became it's main signature.Recipes were typical of home Cuisine----different people gave different Recipes which Mrs.Khanna incorporated into her menu----and the informal atmosphere of the Samovar caught the fancy of everyone----it was the favourite haunt of students from the nearby Colleges,Artists,Actors,Ad-men and women------even the Advocates frequented it from the Courts across the road.
Sudhir and his brother Milind were one of it's regular customers-----Samovar's Fish Curry was excellent---the Mutton Biryani,Rogan Josh,Hydrabadi Mutton----the Boti Roti rolls---the tiny Tea Time Kababs---in fact it soon became our favourite haunt in the early year of our marriage!!!It later became our favourite place to take the kids to for Lunch or Tea during their Vacations or on Saturdays---it would remain closed on Sundays---it was not much of a Dinner place because it closed comparitively early.Slowly it became a part of Mumbaiya heritage---Mrs.Khanna also opened Bankura in Delhi---but did not match the popularity of the Samovar.
Mrs. Khanna is a beautiful,poised and dignified lady---tall with an imposing presence---she stands out amongst a crowd---and she has aged beautifully---with both grace and dignity!!!!We have been honoured with her love each time we run into her in Mumbai----in Delhi too she would treat us the same affection if she was present in Bankura each time we visited it .Today the Jehangir Art Gallery wants thatVerandah back----and the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court---I hope the Samovar wins the case-----or a beautiful landmark of Mumbai may have to fade away!!!
Friday, March 05, 2010
My India is a beautiful country----we don't have that many Seasons---Spring is very short---blink and it has turned into Summer!!!However the tiny bit of it that we get lasts barely a month.We make the most of it---it is known in India as "Vasant" and brings along cool balmy Breezes,splashes of Colour like the cascades of vibrant coloured Bougainvillaes,grapelike bunches of the bright Yellow Laburnum Blossoms,the sweetly scented "Raat Rani"(Queen of the Night) and the delicately scented "Surangi"(Orange Blossoms).
The Cuckoo is the Herald of Spring---hiding in the pale Green new foliage of the Trees---the scent of Mango Blossoms pervades the air---you'll be surprised at the number of Mango Trees we have in Mumbai---isn't it beautiful how Nature teaches us to survive anywhere--even in highly poluted mega-cities?The entire atmosphere around me is changing---I can feel the colourful burst of Spring everywhere!!!The Breeze is turning warmer---balmy---as it flows gently stirring the leaves and Grass outside my window.The Gulmohar Tree across the street has begun shedding it's leaves---readying itself for the burst of it's Orangey-Red blooms of Summer---the air is getting scented with the beautiful indescribable scents of the various types of Jasmine---Mogra,Zaaee,Zuee,Chameli,Sayali and the most potently scented of all-----Madan Baan(Cupid's Arrow)----it's beautiful scent is so powerful that a handful of this variety of Jasmine can scent the entire house!!!Garlands of these are sold at Traffic signals----their heady scent turns the otherwise poluted air into Heaven!!!
The Jacaranda is getting ready to thrust it's beautiful Purply-Blue flowers towards the Sky--which is changing from a deeper to a softer Blue--with fluffy white Clouds scudding along.The Peeple Tree is unfurling it's delicately Bronze new Leaves---they change colour daily---Bronze to Pale Parrot Green and finally Dark Green---the riot of colours is mindblowing!!!The heady perfume of Magnolia,the "Chaafaa" and the "Bakula" Flowers is rampant in the Flower markets.The "Chaafaa" is called "Swarna Champa"(Golden Flower) in Sanskrit---some people confuse it with the Magnolia---but this is a different species.Like the Rose it retains it's beautiful scent even when dried-----if the "Chaphaa" and "Bakulaa" Flowers fade and dry in natural surroundings,they retain their original scents---one can still smell the scent---of course a bit fainter when dried!!!
I love doing my daily Pooja(Worship)with these Flowers--the whole house smells wonderful!!!Luckily these Flowers continue to bloom even during the Monsoons---then they are joined by the delicate mildly scented Creamy Blossoms---- Orange stalked Flowers of the "Parijaat"---a heavenly Tree brought from Heaven to Earth by Lord Krishna for his Consort Satyabhaama.It is customary to offer these Flowers to the Gods in numbers---the most common being 100,001 in a single month---it is called offering a "Laksha or Lakh".These were tasks invented to keep the child Brides out of mischeif in the old days---besides it was a practical method of teaching those poor little girls Patience and Control over their childish minds!!!
I wish I could bottle the scented Air of my beautiful country and export it---I miss my daughters and Grand-daughter the most when I breathe in the Flower scented air of my home!!!
Thursday, March 04, 2010
There are some days when I just wake up all revved up and ready to go----today was one of those days.How I wish there were more days like this----the pace is set early in the morning--relaxed,unhurried and laid back---in short peaceful!!!
I awoke early in this morning---it was around 4.30 a.m. and I just lay back-------drifting along with my eyes closed,gathering my thoughts.As usual the first thought was of God--thanking Him for giving me a peacefully restful deep sleep---and to ask His Blessings on the new day.A hymn we sang in school always comes to mind when I awaken---I love it's words and it's meaning is just so beautiful!!
"Lord for Tomorrow and it's Needs,
I do not Pray
Keep me My Lord, from Stain of Sin
Just for Today.
Let me no Wrong or Idle Word
Keep me My Lord, from Stain of Sin
Just for Today!!!"
That done I began observing the World beyond my window sill---there was a cool Breeze whispering softly through the Trees and rustling their leaves on it's way---the star spangled Sky was gradually lightening it's hues of Indigo to Grey-----the Rooster next door let out it's rousing crow as the first hint of the Dawn started creeping into the Night----the Bird calls began---first muted and then slowly growing in Volume and Crescendo-----the dulcet sweetness of the Cuckoo bringing tears to my eyes---it's tones shine with sound----like liquid Gold!!!!I love the twittering of the Sparrows,the sighing of the Pigeons,the call of the Bul Buls and the lively chatter of the Parrots in the Almond Tree----I even love the croaking of Crows---- sights and sounds like these----are very dear to my heart---and the best start to my day!!!
By now I was fully awake---too early to get up though---Sudhir was fast asleep beside me---and I didn't want to wake him so I lay a-bed and listened to some more Morning sounds.There was the sound of the Tap running,Water filling the Buckets,footsteps of all those men who wash the Cars daily moving around, padding along under the Window---their hushed laughter and soft tones----jokes flying around I'm sure-----as slowly the Sky continued to lighten from Dark Grey to a pale touch of Grey and then gently began acquiring beautiful flushes of Violet, Rose and Gold.
The door bell rang---5.30 a.m.---the Milk Man was at the door with the daily delivery of Fresh Milk-----I collected it and began my routine----first propping my feet up on the Morning Walker----my feet began swaying to it's rhythm----according to the Advertisement----it seems it gives us the equivalent of walking 10000 steps in 15 minutes!!!!Placebo---or Truth--The Lord alone knows---that it energizes me each day is all I know!!!After this is my Yoga-----all the contortions and twists are easier early in the morning---actually or just my notion---I don't know---but the feeling after all this is very positive and invigorating!!!
I love it when I awake like this---my day really goes well on days like this!!!!By 6.45 a.m. I have managed to finish my excecise routine---another session is scheduled at 5p.m. on the Terrace---there wil be 5-8 of us trying to valiantly huff and puff our way through this routine.By now my lord and master is stirring so on to warming the Milk and making the Tea--the day has dawned in earnest now!!!
Get An Email Alert Each Time KOMAL53 Posts