Monday, February 21, 2011
Chandigarh had just 1 Cinema Hall to begin with----Kiran Theatre in Sector 22----but the only Films I got to see were religious ones.I remember watching these Films with one unique Feature---each time any Gods or Goddesses appeared---the Image would freeze long enough for the devout to offer Flowers and Coconuts as Gifts to the Dieties!!Besides there was always the lure of the "Ram Leela" which would begin on an auspicious Day long before Dussehra---so as to unfold the Story daily in parts leading upto the killing of the Demon---Raavana!!!The Actors of these Plays came from all walks of Life--Domestics,Carpenters,Labourers---thi
s was their hour of Glory---exalted by the characters they played!!!Each Street or "Mohalla" had it's own "Mandali" or Company and thanks to Amma we'd watch different Mandalies perform in the beginning till finding the best one----and then regularly watch only that!!!It used to be great fun---one sat on the Ground on thick Cotton Groundsheets called "Durries"---and watched the Story unfold atop a rickety,ramshackle Wooden Stage ----carried away by the Magic of the Story itself---The Ramayana!!The tale made us sad and weepy,angry and righteous by turn---a real roller coaster ride of all Human Emotions!!This Tableau used to be lit by the flickering Light from the Gas Lamps---the huge Shadows being cast adding to the Atmosphere!!
This would end on "Dussehra" with the burning of the Raavana,Kumbhakaran and Meghnaad Statues in a huge ground---and what a crush there'd be to watch this take place!!!The Actors playing Ram, Laxman,Sita and Hanuman would be seated on a Chariot and would take a round of the Premises---being worshipped and feted by the Devout---of which our Amma was one---and we'd be forced by her to pay homage and be blessed by them---for a happy and secure Future!!Amma also was a simple but devoutly religious person---it never struck her that these "Dieties" stank of stale Liquor and cheap "Beedies"(Indian Cigarettes)---I doubt whether they bathed either----but that day they were Gods to the Crowd!!The Show however would be spectacular!!!Blazing arrows would be shot into the huge Effigies---setting off the Fireworks stored inside----and would be followed by an awesome Display----of Fireworks accompanied by Booms and Crashes loud enough to wake up the Dead!!!
Amma also believed in Fasting---each year she'd fast for "Nirjali Ekadashi" which used to fall in June--the hottest month of Summer in North India.That day she'd make a huge Tubful of "Shikanjvee" with Raw Sugar,Lemon Juice and Water with huge chunks of Ice added to it.This Tub would then be shifted to the Road behind our Bungalow---and placed along with "Kulhads" or Clay Pots under a shady Tree there.There would also be a "Charpaee" or Cot placed for us to sit on placed next to the Tub.The Tub would be covered with a piece thin Mosquito Netting---to keep off the Flies---and Amma would then proceed with folded hands to plead with and entreat every passerby to drink glassfuls of it!!Mornings wouldn't be that bad---there'd be a few people moving around---but afternoons were bad!!!Which Idiot would leave the comfort of the cool homes in the hot 45 degrees Celsius + temperatures to come and drink that Lemonade???Then we'd very magnanimously oblige---and drink ourselves sick by evening!!!
Not just that she was very ritualistic too.Her Room was a place I really loved to be in.Spotlessly clean and fresh it smelt of "Dhoop"---a mixture of various types of Incense---the likes of which I've never smelt since after she left us!!Each time we visited Himachal Pradesh during our Vacations much later I'd carry back loads of every Brand of Incense available there---but nothing matched the scents of that beautiful Memory!!! It was Amma who gave me the grounding of my strong Religious Base---but watching her I also learnt which Pitfalls to avoid!!Today I practice "Aham Brahasmee"---"I am an Image of the Lord"---and salute Human Beings as a whole---for God resides in every Human Being's heart!!I perform only those Rituals which have been impressed upon my mind since early Childhood as being unavoidably imperative---but I do not and never have believed in Caste,Creed or Religious differences while choosing my Friends---it is our Minds and Thoughts that have to gel together---the rest is superflous and doesn't matter as far as I'm concerned!!
My Parents too were very broadminded for that Era,and we grew up playing with the children of those who worked for us as well as our neighbourhood children.Mummy encouraged the Women who worked for us to fetch their children with them each time they came to work.While the mothers were busy all us children would play and even eat together---Mummy would serve all of us---the entire crowd of 8-10 children at the same time---and we'd eat sitting crosslegged in the Verandah together!!Sometimes these Women and our Drivers (Chauffeurs) would carry some Special dishes--packed in shining Brass Tiffins for us to eat.I still maintain that the taste of what these women would cook for us still lingers on my tongue---try as I might I can never duplicate it!!Things like "Sarsonkaa Saag","Maa Chholian di Daal" and "Gobhi Parathas" were just awesome--all home made with lots of Love----are parts of my most treasured Memories today!!
By now we had one more Theatre added to our City---named Jagat Theatre in Sector 17---and this was when the I became aware of Films as Entertainment!!!I still remember the Sunday Matinees we attended with the Nuns---Films like "The Ten Commandments","Ben Hur","Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins" ,"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!!"as well as almost all of Walt Disney's Fairy Tale Classics featured prominently among them!!We watched the adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" into "My Fair Lady" and William Shakespeare's "Julius Ceasar" with Marlon Brando playing Mark Antony---and all of us recited the stirring Speech "Friends,Romans,Countrymen"---with him---the Theatre resounding with our voices!!The highlight of course was the Rex Harrison--Elizabeth Taylor--Richard Burton Starrer "Cleopatra"----that entire Film is still imprinted on my mind---watched with moonstruck wide eyes---I must have 15 years old then!!!
Bolly Wood Films were a different story.
Each time we planned on seeing a Movie,the Parents had to e buttered up weeks in advance.Then too we'd get permission only if an adult accompanied us---very restricting because we couldn't even swoon when our favourite Heroes appeared on the scene----for that would be considered being too forward!!As we grew older this condition made way for another---only Balcony Tickets were allowed!!Reason?Since these were expensive the "Riff-Raff"---read oversmart Boys---stayed in the Upper Stalls!!Then too we weren't allowed more than a Film or two each month----it was considered "too corrupting" for our young minds!!!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
On my childhood Treks with Daddy and Jeanneret Uncle,we used to stop at this tiny little hole in the Wall Shop just outside Kalka---the place was called Dhalli!!This little shop sold various varieties of Meat Pickles---one could buy this Pickle made with Goat,Lamb,Pork,Venison,Chicken or Partridge Meat----the Recipe remained the same--taste differed according to the Flavour of the Meat used.We'd buy loaves of warm,fresh Bread at Kalka Station and this Pickle in an Earthenware Container---and eat it sitting on boulders next to a bubbling Brook under a Pine Tree---in the open air!!!The taste of the warm crusty Bread and this Pickle cooked in aromatic Mustard Oil and Malt Vinegar---is one of my most treasured childhood Memories!!
This is one of my favourite Recipes---cooked by our Cook Narayan Singh---who taught Mummy to make this.Whenever she made this we'd wait impatiently for it to assimilate---then gorge it at every given opportunity!!!Once she made this and realised that she didn't have sufficient Vinegar at home to pickle it.So Daddy and she went to the Market to buy some--leaving the prepared Meat to cool in the meanwhile----forgetting that the three of us little Hogs were at home!!By the time they returned we'd finished the Meat in the Curry---all that remained was just the Gravy!!!They had to go back to get fresh Meat to add to the Curry---was Mummy livid!!!
I have scaled down the quantity of Oil used---those days it would literally drown in Oil!!I'm giving the Recipe below.
FAT: Fat:26.5 g. ,Saturated Fat: 3.3 g.,Polyunsaturated Fat:6.5 g,Monounsaturated Fat:15 g.,
CHOLESTROL:50mg.,SODIUM:655 mg.POTASSIUM: 935.1 mg.,
TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE:31.1 g.,Dietary Fiber: 6.5 g.,Sugars:1.7g.,
1 kg. Lean,Boneless Pork
200 gms.Ginger Garlic Paste
250 ml.Mustard Oil/Rice Bran Oil/Canola Oil
250 ml.Cider/Wine/Malt Vinegar
75 gms.Cumin Seeds
50gms.Black Pepper Powder
Red Chillie Powder to taste--I use 5 tbsps.If so desired leave it out.
Salt to taste
Cut Pork into Cubes.Wash and season with Salt,a little Black Pepper Powder and 2-3 tbsps.Vinegar.Marinate for 15 minutes.
Grate the Shallots coarsely.
Grind the Ginger-Garlic together to a medium coarse Paste adding a little Vinegar as a thinning agent.No Water can be used.
Dry roast the Coriander and Cumin Seeds separately till lightly toasted.Grind together to a slightly coarse Powder.
Powder the Black Pepper Corns coarsely.
In a Pressure Pan add the marinated Pork and 1 tbsp.Oil.
Close lid and Pressure cook for 2 whistles.
When Steam subsides,open lid and cook on high heat till all the Juice in the Meat dries up.
Reduce flame to low and saute the Pork till it is lightly browned.
Set aside to cool.
Heat Oil in a non-stick Wok and fry the grated Shallots till crisp and golden.Add the Ginger-Garlic Paste and fry till Oil floats on top.
Reduce flame and add the Coriander-Cumin Powder.
Fry on low flame till the mixture turns aromatic.
Add the Red Chillie and Black Pepper Powders and continue sauteeing on low flame for 2-3 minutes more.
Add the browned Meat and fry all the Ingredients together on low flame for 2-3 minutes.
Cover and simmer on low flame for 8-10 minutes for all the flavours to assimilate.
Remove from Flame,remove the Lid and cover with a Steel Net Cover.
This allows the Steam to escape from the prepared Meat Mixture without it condensing into the Preparation.
Cool to Room temperature.
When cool,add the remaining Vinegar and mix well.
Cover with Lid and leave covered for 24 hours to allow the Vinegar to be fully absorbed by the Meat.
Bottle in a bone dry Glass Jar and keep.Serve with an absolutely dry Spoon to prevent Spoilage.
In cold weather it lasts for 15 days on the Shelf.
In hot and humid Mumbai,I refrigerate it.
Get An Email Alert Each Time KOMAL53 Posts