Sunday, April 04, 2010
As a child my father would describe the English food-----Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding,Steak and Kidney Pie,Drop Scones with Jam and Clotted cream,Crumpets with Butter------I would imagine the taste and salivate-------just thinking about it!!!!Add to it the fabulous Goodies described in all the Enid Blyton books-----Cornwall specially-----I would literally drool my way through these descriptions.I have always wanted to see Wales and Scotland too----and just add on the Leprechauns of Ireland as well-----now maybe I'll get to do that the way I always wanted to do it---at my pace---leisurely!!!!All this because Sayali's shifted to London-------so my visit there is definitely on the cards!!!Britain---here I come!!!
I have always loved Food----specially Continental Food---mainly British Fare----the influence of the Raj you see.My mother would get English magazines like"Woman","Woman and Home" and "Women's Weekly"-----all these contained mouthwatering Recipes---some Mummy made but for some the Ingredients were just not available!!!For instance the Steak and Kidney Pie needed Ingredients called "Suet" and "Lard"-----both not available locally then in Chandigarh.Mummy's "Shepherd's Pie"made with Goat Mince always turned out to be truly awesome---no one would have believed that this crisp and flaky Pie was a product of a primitive Oven.The Meat Roast(it would be Goat Meat,Chicken or Pork----she drew the line at Beef) with perfectly roasted Potatoes,Onions and Gravy was a well loved Sunday Lunch---the remaining Roast Meat/Chicken turning into Meat/Chicken Salad Sandwiches drowned in home made Mayonnaise during the Weekdays for School lunches.
Not just this,her Cakes and Souffles too turned out wonderfully----light as air and fluffy----literally melting in the mouth!!!Mummy loved cooking-----and would bake Biscuits and Bread at home too----all thanks to these Magazines!!!The tension involving the Souffles had to be felt----till it came out perfectly risen Mummy would be like a cat on hot bricks!!!Her Pie Pastry too would turn out really great----buttery,flaky and crisp------oh so yummy but oh so bad for us----only we didn't know this then!!!My mother would have loved all the mod-cons and she did use all these---except by the time she got round to using these awareness about "Good" and "Bad" Food had set in-----besides Daddy too had passed on---her greatest Fan!!!
Mummy's primitive Oven was something I really miss---I'd love to have one like but no such luck today!!!There used to be coal fired "Choolahs" built into a Brick platform in the Kitchen.These would be damped down for the night.The Platform would be horizontally divided by an Iron Sheet---running end to end.The Ash from the Coal fires would collect on pans placed on top of this Sheet.Below this there would were Iron Shelves with Iron Doors placed at regular intervals----the Shelves and the Doors too were smeared with a mixture of wet sticky Mud on both the outside and inside to maintain and retain the incredibly high heat. The entire Platform too was smeared with a layer of wet sticky Mud daily to clean off any spills from the Rice and Dals cooked during both the Meals---- and was the last thing attended to before going to bed-----this was the responsibility of our Cook.The Mud layer would be dry by morning and was called "Chikani Mitti".These were the Ovens---these would get heated during the Morning cooking and as these were set in the Platform would retain the heat beautifully.The Baking would take place in the afternoons-----can still remember the smells!!
I don't know whether I'll like the actual taste---Fantasy and Reality are both different things----my taste buds too have changed!!!At least however I'll have the satisfaction of having tasted the "Real" thing and thus will finally find out the real taste and lay my Fantasies to rest!!!
Friday, April 02, 2010
I wrote about the Sari in my Blog yesterday----there seems to be a lot of curiosity about this garment---people know of it but not what it is.I'll try to clear up the confusion to the best of my ability.
From Maharashtra starts the reign of the nine yards Sari-----this is actually 9 yards of material and is common to most of the Southern States-----Maharashtra,Goa,Karnataka and Tamil Nadu----It is draped differently in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu---Goa and Maharashtra drape it in a similar fashion.It istied round the waist,and the folds are drawn back through the legs and tucked into the waist at the back.Wearing it thus ensures a lot of mobility of the wearer---in the old days this enabled a lot of women-----both Queens and Commoners to move about the strenous tasks easily----riding and climbing up the steep hillsides of the Forts on top of the Sahyadri range..
Both my grandmas---Akka and Aaji wore only nine yard Saris all their lives----it was fascinating to watch them draping it!!!First the sari would be pleated from end to end by hand----and the bunch of Pleats tied together-----after this it would be cracked like a whip in the Air-----this straightened out the folds and helped to drape it in a form fitting manner.The wearing would begin by draping the outer edge or "Padar" round the shoulder to desired length.After this the inner end called the "aatlaa Padar" would slid around the waist and knotted securely.The Sari would then be pleated into a certain number of equal folds------these would be tucked in at the waist in a certain way.After being tucked in the folds would be divided and a certain fold would be passed between the legs,pleated again and tucked securely at the waist in the back.The Sari would then be adjusted around the thighs and calves to fit snugly but demurely------a well draped 9 yard Sari was very flattering to the female form----it specially highlighted and emphasised every curve!!!!
As against this the six yard is worn over a petticoat-----tied at the waist.The inner end is to be tucked in first and the Sari would be tucked securely around the waist.The outer end called the "Padar" or "Pallu"is then be draped over the shoulder-------the remaining material is then pleated by hand into equal folds and tucked in at the waist in front.While this gives mobility and freedom of movement it also gives a lot of restriction----during the high Summer heat the cotton petticoats stick the legs while walking----thanks to the heavy perspiration we all suffer from---SPECIALLY in Mumbai.
I personally prefer wearing the 6 yards Sari---while I love the beauty of the 9 yard Sari I feel that a really good figure is necessary to do it justice-----both my Grandmas were pretty well proportioned even in old age---and thus carried the Sari gracefully.Today we all possess a nine yard Sari---a must in the Temples of Family Dieties in Goa---not allowed beyond a certain point into the Sanctum Sactorum without it!!!!While these are stitched to order these days our Temples still insist only on the Draped ones----that too of pure thick Silk only!!!
The names of the various varieties are many but the most expensive among both the 9 and 6 yards Saris are hand woven "Paithanis"----woven by hand on the loom with pure Gold or Silver thread---frightfully and exorbitantly expensive but breathtakingly beautiful!!!To possess one of these is the dream of every Marathi woman!!!The other varieties are the gossamer type hand woven Maheshwari and Chanderi saris----so fine and light----they're heaven to wear and have ranges to fit every pocket.There are the "Banarsi Silks","Jaamdaanis" ,"Irkallis","Ikats","Patolas",Kanjeevarams
-----oh soooo many----the list is endless!!!
Today most of us prefer to wear the "Salwar---Kurta" the Indian version of a pant and long shirt.Many young women prefer to wear Jeans and T-Shirts on a daily basis.These clothes make the movements needed to board Local Trains to work,college or just outings-----hence are more popular.However each Special Occasion or Event merits a Sari----the most beautiful of all Indian Wear!!!!
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