Saturday, December 25, 2010
This is a very personal letter I'm writing to each one of you----to wish all my wonderful and very dear Spark friends a very,very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!The Internet is erratic here---so though I wanted to send Spark Goodies to each one of you---thanks to bad connectivity could manage only a few!!!Will try to send these on New Year--if not---then after the 14th.Jan.2011---for that's when I reach back home.
All of you have given me great Support and Happiness in this past one year---I consider myself very lucky and blessed to have Friends like each one of you----Thank You Folks---and may each one of you and your Families and Homes be blessed with
Good Health,Happiness,Harmony,Prosperity and Peace always.May each one of you attain desired Success in each of your ventures and Fulfill ALL your Dreams!!!
Take Care my very,very valued and Dear Friends------God Bless!!!
Lots of love and Best wishes,
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
This is a Picture of a Brun Bread(Paao) beloved of Mumbaites and perhaps available only in Mumbai,India.These were primarily sold in Irani Bakeries---established by the Irani Community and the prime location for a cup of piping hot Chai and Brun Maskaa or a Bun Maskaa.This Bun too is something unique to Mumbai.Very soft,sweetish with Candied Peel in it,it is sliced into 2 horizontally,spread liberally with Fresh Butter(Maskaa) and then eaten with Chai.Traditionally both Brun and Bun are dipped into the hot Tea and then eaten---sopping wet with the sweet,thick ,milky Tea---again an Irani speciality.The Irani Cafes serve the best Chai in the World!!These Cafes have helped many a Batchelor to start his day fortified by the excellent Brew!!
Not just that,these serve wonderful Egg and Meat Dishes----and the quality of these is excellent too!!
Their Signature Dishes include the Egg Akuri--or Spicy Scrambled Eggs,Omelletes,yummy Custards and Puddings.The "Kheema Paao" or Spicy Mincemeat Curry with Bread too is a very popular Dish with the regulars.Their Biryani too is fabulous---spiced to perfection with the perfect balance of Meat,potatoes and Rice.They also make and sell melting Chicken and Meat Patties---tender,spicy Meat encased in Puff Pastry and baked a golden hue---eating these hot from the Oven is Heaven!!Mumbai's most famous Irani Cafes are Brittania at Ballard Estate,Kayani's at Dhobi Talao and Leopold's,Mondegar and Olympia at Colaba Causeway.Unfortunately many others have given way to the Cafe Coffee Day or Barrista's---which though excellent--can't compare with the old worldly charm of these!!!Sometimes I yearn for the Marble topped Tables and Spindle legged Chairs---trademark of these old Cafes!!!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I have always loved Bread---any type---and thanks to this don't think will stay hungry anywhere in the World---I can literally consume it by the Loaves!!The best part is that I do not need any accompaniments with Bread---it's own unique aroma and flavour are so mouthwatering---that I'm craving it even as I write!!My mother was a true Bombayite----to the manner born---and inordinately proud of all things "Bombaiyya"!!!Reminisces of her childhood featured a few things very prominently---the Biryani at Coronation,The Falooda at Badshah's and also at Jai Hind's---and most important---Oven Fresh Brun Paao with Maska---freshly baked and warm ,slathered with thick layers of "Polson" Butter or "Maskaa" as it was known as---with hot steaming Chai---first thing each early morning!!In my very early memories I recall eating these things faintly---but my first actual taste of these was in 1960---when we were in Bombay for Sudhir's oldest sister---Kunda's marriage.
My Grandfather,Aazoba, lived at Charni Road Junction in Bombay and just across the street on the corner was Railway Bakery---still don't know why it was called that---but this Bakery sold and still sells, truly awesome Bread!!!Those days the day began very early---about 5---5.30 a.m. and the domestic help would dash across the Road to buy the day's quota of "Brun Paao" and "Laadi Paao" or a sheet of sets of small Bread Loaves as well as packets of cold fresh creamy yellow Butter carrying the Brand name"Polson" before the morning rush for these started!!I don't know where the term "Brun" comes from---but I've not found it's equivalent anywhere in the World.This Bread is baked in three sizes---small,medium and large---and has a very hard Brown crust---with a soft texture inside.You need a very sharp knife to slice it into two halves---horizontally.Both these halves are then slathered with Fresh Creamy Butter---Polson Butter---and again sandwiched together.Finally these are sliced lengthwise into 3-5 thick Sandwiches.
It was in May 1960 that I first tasted this Bread----and became a slave to it!!Those hot crispy Sandwiches dripping with melted "Polson"Butter dribbling down the chin and cups of hot milky "Children's Tea' became my favourite wake up call!!! Breakfast would follow much later---something tasty,substantial and traditional--but this very first meal of the day----was like Manna from Heaven!!!This was a treat that I looked forward to everyday on each of our subsequent visits---a must on my Agenda!!!Later I became a permanent resident of Bombay after my marriage, my addiction continued and in fact grew!!! Next door to our old Home in South Bombay there was a "Paao Wallah" or Bread Supplier who got all his stuff from another famous Bakery in the area---"American Express Bakery" and because all of us adored our daily Bread---the Paao Wallah would ensure a regular,fresh Supply of our Quota!!One really had to be an early Bird to catch these---they disappeared as fast as they appeared fresh from the Oven!!!There used to be a mad rush to procure these as these were available till barely 7 a.m. each morning!!! Today we no longer get "Polson Butter"---it has been replaced with various other Brands which cannot match it but "Brun" Paao is still going strong!!
After shifting to our present location we started getting our Bread from the famous "City Bakery" delivered fresh early each morning----and that still continues till today!!!I buy the small Brun----just enough for me and spread it with a thin layer of Butter---teamed with St.Dalfour Diabetic Jam on Mondays or Egg White Omelettes on other days with a small Mug of Sugarless hot Chai----makes my Day start with a positive kick!!!
Friday, November 26, 2010
I grew up in Chandigarh---then a part of erstwhile Punjab State---later after the trifurcation into 2 new States----Punjab,Haryana and Himachal Pradesh,it became a Union Territory. Very early memories of my childhood are linked to all my uncles---the oldest Gopal Kaka or "Anna" as his brothers called him,lived in Mumbai,the youngest Sharu Kaka too lived in Mumbai with Atya and studied in the Sir JJ College of Architecture and Shyam Kaka in Kolhapur.Daddy's step sister was called "Mothi Tai" or oldest sister and Atya was "Tai" older sister---both given deferential respect by all their younger Siblings.
The four brothers were called"Anna " Gopal Kaka the oldest,then my father called "Nana", then Shyam Kaka called "Dada" by my aunt Kusum Atya and Sharu Kaka because they were the youngest---this was their way of showing respect to their older Siblings.All these siblings were extremely close knit and very close to each other.My Uncles and my father were actually grown up kids---our homes resounded with laughter---resulting from the Pranks they too took part in as well!!If those people who saw only their strait laced "Public" faces at work could've seen each one of these at home---they'd have thought that all these brothers were Schizophrenics!!All the brothers loved Food with a Passion---and being blessed with hearty appetites as well---ate with gusto!! All of us have inherited their huge appetites---that's why some of us are having problems controlling our intakes!!
I was barely 3 months old when my parents took me to Chandigarh---and I recollect very faintly my first visit to Kolhapur.Being used to modern Plumbing the ancient system at Kolhapur came as a culture shock to me---then 2 years old---nothing would induce me to visit the Loo---which was primitive to say the least!!!I remember both Shyam Kaka and Sharu Kaka bribing me with Ice Cream to get me to use it---which worked albeit reluctantly---with long and loud lamentations!!Daily there used to be new incentives---but this relieved poor Mummy immensely!!Both my Uncles would take me around Town---showing me off as "Nana's Daughter" and talking to me in broken Hindi---since that was the only language I spoke then!!!They'd also needle me to make me mad---my stamping my feet,swearing in Hindi and generally being a nuiscance amused them terribly---this was their favourite entertainment!!!So I grew up with the misconception that they were the same age as me!!!
Shyam Kaka was the adventurous type.An expert in Car Mechanics,Cars were his passion.His association with the erstwhile Royal Famly fuelled his passion for Cars and he was a regular visitor to the Royal Garages---familiarising himself with the finer Features of all those Rolls Royces and Mercedes' they owned----he acquired the title of being an Expert in that field!!He owned an "Adler" and was very fond of it---in this car he and his friends travelled the length and breadth of India---braving bad roads and the elements!!!To us he was(still is) a hero----for given the dangerous condition and primitive resources of that period---it was nothing less than high adventure to take to the Roads in all types of Weather!!
Sharu Kaka left to study in Oxford in 1956--following in Daddy's footsteps---and settled in Britain.He married an English lady and Photographs of him with Aunt Mavis started making their way to India viia the Mail Box-----his two children---Amanda and Nigel---joined the Family Photos as they were added to the Family. We saw them for the first time in person as late as 1972---when they made their first trip to India!!!Shyam Kaka stayed put in Kolhapur---and it was with him that I interacted the most !!Visiting Kolhapur in my childhood used to be great fun----my Grandmother Akka had got rid of the Family Cow and Buffalo---and instead arranged for two Milkmen to walk their Cow and Buffalo to our doorstep-----she'd get Fresh Milk on the doorstep----the milking taking place there and then!!!There were different sized Vessels for the Milk--depending on demand and need----and would be used accordingly each early morning and evening----warm frothing fresh Milk---absolutely rich,pure,creamy !!!How we loved drinking it just like that---warm from the udders!!!Even today the taste still lingers in my memory!!
Shyam Kaka was the only one to retain his hair in later years---the other three faced the problems of partial balding and thinning hair.Those days these people didn't like dying their hair---so in the hot Summer afternoons we used to be kept occupied combing our fingers through their hair---picking out and plucking stray single White hair----leaving the Black hair intact.Now this was a tedious job---and the primary thought behind it was to keep us out of mischief and at the same time ensure a peaceful post Lunch Siesta for themselves----so they'd offer to pay us a quarter for each White hair plucked!!Now we were not eager--despite the bait---to do this for very long.Hence we evolved a system----find and pluck a single White hair and show it to the concerned party---then just give a gentle tug at the Roots of different Black hair shafts---and keep showing the single plucked White hair after each tug.By now these people would drifting off to sleep and would just nod their heads---and nod off!!In the evening we'd turn Shylocks---- force them to pay their dues---and then blow up the money we'd earned on trifles!!Funny thing though----neither of the three men caught on till we told them long after those days were over!!And then of course everyone laughed long and loud at the memory!!
Today so many Memories crowd my mind---it will take some time to untangle and unravel them---but all of these are happy memories----each precious and jealously stored in the inner recesses of my mind----Life was much simpler and less complicated when we were growing up in the 1960s--70s!!
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