Wednesday, March 09, 2011
I grew up in truly sylvan surroundings---those were simple days.A City was being built and fellow feeling and camaraderie swept across the Status divide at work----but reverted to type in the evenings.Mummy would be busy arranging Flowers,Knitting,Embroidering or Reading during the day---and Tea Time Gossip Sessions on the Lawn in the evenings!!She had formed a close circle of Friends with Chaaeeji(Malhotra), Mathur Aunty,Aditya Prakash Aunty,Bijlee Sharma Aunty,Julie Aunty----all these ladies would meet turn by turn at each other's homes---and have a great time!!Sometimes there'd be Dinner Parties too----an exciting time for me if it was at our home.
During Summer,the Dinners would be served outdoors---lit by the flickering Gas Lights or "Laaltens" as they were called.Electricity was erratic those days so each Household owned a number of these lamps.They'd be primed---with trimmed wicks and filled bellies---and kept ready for Emergencies.On occasions like these they cast a beautiful golden glow over the scene----it looked like something out of an old Colonial Film!!!My parents had a huge Dining Table---it could seat a dozen people and this Table would be set up near the Kitchen Garden Hedge----right next to the Kitchen Door-----making it easy for the Cook to keep replenishing the Dishes.This Table was always draped with a huge spotlessly starched Damask Cloth with Roses on it.The Staff would be dressed in stiffly starched Uniforms---the Peon and the Bearer sporting Red-n-White Turbans on their heads---"Kalgeedar Pagdees" and would serve the Drinks,Cock Tails and Hors-D'Ouevres---weaving in and out of the crowd with silent efficiency.The Gramophone would be set up at one end of the Lawn on a Coffee Table--with the 78 R.P.M. Records next to it---and someone or the other from the Guests---mainly the Batchelors(there were quite a few) would shuffle through the Records,crank up the Gramophone and set the Needle on the Disc---and strains of Bing Crosby,Nat King Cole,Frank Sinatra,Harry Belafonte and Eddie Fisher would waft through the atmosphere!!
My Bedroom overlooked the Lawn---and being brought up with "propah Brtish Etiquette" and Dr.Spock---I'd be served my Dinner exactly at 7.30p.m. on such days----a Meal suitable for a 2 year old with none of the Goodies laid out below---and banished up to bed!!I'd brush my Teeth,bathe and dress in my Pyjamas and climb into bed---pretending to fall asleep---till poor Amma--convinced that she could safely steal off for her Dinner---would creep away noiselessly--and like a spring I'd bounce out of bed the instant the Door clicked shut!!There was a Writing Table below the Window facing the Lawn---and that's where I'd ensconce myself----with my nose inhaling in the warm aromas of Narayan Singh's superlative cooking---and my ears drinking in the droning buzz of Conversation interspersed with Laughter, tinkling of Ice Cubes in fine Crystal Glasses mingling with the strains of Music!!!The Guests ----Men in Suits--Summer Suits--and women in rich hand embroidered Organdie,Chiffon or Crepe Saries-- wearing Gold Jewellery and Makeup---elegant Hairstyles sporting Fresh Flowers----it was exotic,electrifying and oh so magnetic!! Indescribable----undefinable---it is something I can't put into words!!!
By now I'd be far too engrossed in the Scene below to notice that Amma was back--till I felt her hug me to her and remonstrate gently in my ear."Baawaa--gandaa baccha!!Chalo abhi so jao---main Kahaani sunaatee hoon--Mummy gussaa karegee!!"Translated it meant that I was a bad child---and should now go to sleep--and she'd promise to tell me a Story---the best bait!!!As I grow older I miss Amma far more than Mummy---for Amma was there to hold me whenever I needed solace---she instinctively knew what I wanted and gave it to me selflessly---always!!I do not blame Mummy for this but the pull of the umbilical cord somehow was missing in our relationship---somehow I was always the one looking in from the outside--but never the part of a bond she shared with my sisters!!!
Sometimes I think Mummy and I were too awkward with each other---I was extremely stubborn and headstrong and she never spared the Rod-----scared of spoiling me silly!!I was a very popular child---and an Imp of Naughtiness personified!!I remember one incident---the Summer Showers had just struck out of the Blue---and lasted for a bare half an hour.The smell of Mother Earth was so overpowering that I just had to eat it!!So before Amma could even understand what I was up to---I bent down and grabbed a fistful of Soil and crammed it in my mouth!!!There was Hell to pay---a huge Pandemonium took place!!Mummy rushed over,grabbed me and rushed me to the Wash Basin!!There she forcibly opened my mouth and washed it out---with me kicking and resisting with all my might---and once washed, paddled my bum sharply and firmly with her Slipper---adding Insult to Injury!!It didn't end there---I was locked in my Room---and was told that would be let out only after I said "Sorry" AND meant it!!
I may have been barely 3' tall but my Ego was skyhigh!!So there I was raving and ranting inside the room for about 15 minutes---till my super fast impish Brain kicked into play.The tears dried up---and Plan Revenge took shape and was decided upon----and put into action!!In a trice I'd bolted both the Doors-the Main and the Side ones---from the inside---climbed up onto the Writing Table by the Window and searched out the big bottle of Ink kept on the top shelf.Then safely ensconced on my comfortable perch,flung down the bottle on the Floor with all my might---the resounding crash and the splintering sound of breaking Glass panicking both Mummy and Amma---and bringing Narayan Singh rushing up from the Kitchen to investigate!!The Doors were unbolted---but since I'd bolted them from inside--these wouldn't open!!Then the entreaties and remonstrtions started---trying hard to mollify me---and the Tables turned totally!!!Instead of me saying "Sorry" it was the other way around---and this continued for an hour till our Bearer Ramu came back from the Vegetable Market.He quietly leaned the Ladder against the Wall,climbed up and stepped in through the open Window----something I had forgotten---and spied me sitting pretty on the Table---safe and alright!!He stepped onto the Table,called out that I was safe,wrapped his feet in the pieces of thick Tarpaulin he carried and then opened the Doors---letting an extremelyflustered, panicky and dishevelled Mummy and tear wet Amma in---both furiously,gloriously angry---but prudently trying hard to hang on to their Tempers!!!
Those days Mummy and I were constantly at loggerheads--we both had implacable Tempers!!This went on till my 3rd.Birthday---and the day after that Mummy fell sick!!!She had been suffering from intermittent Appendicitis attacks for some time---and since our General Hospital had just been built---with freshly minted Brand new Equipment---she earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first Patient to view the gleaming Operation Theatre from the inside!!Those days Operations were viewed with with wariness and suspicion---and overhearing talk of her being very sick----I tried to put both Daddy and her mind at rest---just before the Operation.I kissed her,told her how much I loved her---patted her hand kindly and added that she need not worry about Daddy---I'd look after him all my life---just in case she died!!
Monday, February 28, 2011
Day 1: A recent Picture of yourself!!
Day 2:A Picture of You and the Person you have been closest to
Day 3:A Picture of your Inspiration for Weight Loss Nature is the biggest Inspiration for me----it refreshes and rejuvenates us---also teaches us to be Positive!!!
Day 4:A Picture of the Cast of your Favourite T.V. show
I loved the Books on Malgudi---a fictitious place but made so palpably real by R.K. Narayan---one of my favouritest Indian Authors.So when Shankar Nag got his Books picturised in a Serial named "Malgudi Days"---it soon became my top favourite Show!!I can watch it ad nauseam----beautifully picturised by Shankar Nag---specially the "Swami" Episodes!!
Day 5:A Picture of your Favourite Animal
As a child we had an Alsatian named "Pasha" and a tiny Skye Terrier named "Cutie" as well as 3 pure bred Siamese Cats named "Polar Bear","Mintoo" and "Tibby"---they'd been named by my sister Ritu!!When our daughters were young,w (looks like Ming)w (Looks like Tiang)we owned a beautiful pair of miniature Lhasa Apsos---the male was called "Ming" and the female "Tiang" though she answered only to Tina!!So obviously my favourites are Dogs!!
Day 6:Picture of a Person you'd love to trade Places with!!
George Leigh Mallory---a fabled Mountaineer from the early Twentieth Century!!!Reason?I have always adored the Mountains and have been fascinated by them since babyhood----having read about his Life I can identify with his passion for the mystique of the Mountains.I would be happy to trade places with him---a kindred Soul!!
Day 7: Picture of your most Treasured Item
I just adore Mangal Sutras---and have many Ethnic ones---the two Pictures are of my most favourite ones---the latter being the Pendant of one gifted by Mummy to me on my 50th.Birthday!!
Day 8: Picture of your Favourite Colour
I love the Green of my Jade Bangle---a gift to me from Lotta.Maharashtrians consider Green--specially a rich Emerald Green to be very auspicious---every Bride wears Dark Emerald Green Glass Bangles on her wrists interspersed with Gold and Pearl Bangles on her Wedding Day!!
Day 9:A Picture that motivates you to do more
The Serenity of the Mountains moves me deeply and motivates me---having experienced the sense of Peace inherent in them I feel refreshed and thus invigorated to work with renewed enthusiasm!!! Sunrise is extremely beautifully inspiring!!! So are Sunsets in the Mountains!!!
Day 10:A Picture of your closest Friend
My Wonderful husband Sudhir---My Best Friend!!!We've been together for 41 years today!!Got Engaged on 29th December 1969!!
Day 11: A Picture of your IPOD or any other Music system playing Music
My wonderful Boombox---plays the Radio--FM,MW,Sw and CDs/MP3s and also has a twin Cassette Player/Recorder!!!
Day 12:A Picture that defines you
I'm a very positive person with a sunny nature---and a very hot temper!!!
Day 13: A Picture of your Favourite Band or Artiste
Indian Actresses Madhubala and Waheeda Rehman and would love to die listening to the Velvet voiced Asha Bhosale!!!
Day 14:A Picture of you now
Well I still look the same-----Fat!!!
Day 15: A Picture of something you want to do before you die!!
The Manas Sarovar Lake is the highest Fresh Water Lake in the World!!!Situated in Tibet it is the Holiest of all Holy Shrines for Hindus---specially for a Shiva Bhakta like me!!I'd like to visit it once before I die!!!
Day 16 :A Picture of someone who inspires you
I believe in the Blessings of Shree Swami Samartha--an Incarnation of Lord Dattatray---He inspires me to become a good Human Being!!!
Day 17: A Picture of something that has made a huge impact on you and why
This is the legendary Baba Amte---he spent his entire Life living amongst and rehabilitating people with Leprosy---I salute him and his selfless contribution to Humanity.He helped to remove the Social taboos and educate the masses on Leprosy!!
Day 18:A Picture of your Biggest Insecurity and reasons why
Since my Heart Attack---no Insecurities anymore!!!Death is a beautiful and peaceful release.Besides,I'm a Fatalist---I've placed my Life in the Hands of The Almighty---His Will be done!!!
Day 19:A Picture of the Nick Names you have;Why do you have them?
My Family says I cluck a lot---so my nick name since childhood has been"Kombadee" Marathi for "Hen"!!
Day 20:A Picture of somewhere you'd love to travel
I'd love to visit New Zealand.The Maori Traditions,the Southern Fjords and Lakes,Glaciers and Mountains are breath takingly beautiful!!!Since I read the descriptions by Essie Summers in the Mills & Boon series---it's been my pet destination!!
Day 21:A Picture of the Excersise you can't do---but would love to do
I can't even swim---but would love to learn and proceed to Scuba Diving too!!
Day 22:A Picture of something you wish you were better at How I wish I could sing much better than I can!!!
Day 23:A Picture of your Favourite Book.Why is it your Favourite Book?
I first read this Book when I was 11 years old.The character of Scarlett O'Hara just caught hold of my imagination--along with her feisty "never say die" attitude!!1Snce then I've lived with her attitude---indeed"I'll think about it Tomorrow---Tomorrow is Another Day!!!"
Day 24:A Picture of what I'd find in your Bag
My Lipsticks and Perfumes---all gifts from Sayali---the very best!!!
Day 25:Picture of your Favourite Super Hero--and why
Earlier I was a fan of both Phantom and Tarzan---but Superman swept me away with his sheer superiority when I turned 8 years old!!!A gift of an entire set of DC Comics featuring Superman set my imagination afire---still am an undying Fan!!!
Day 26:A Picture of something that means a lot to you My most prized Possession---my husband Sudhir!!
Day 27:A Picture of you and a Family Member It's us again!!!
Day 28:A Picture of something you are afraid of These I have a very healthy respect for and both fear deeply as well as abhor totally since my early childhood!!
Day 29:A Picture that can always make you smile!!! My Parents---they were terribly in love with each other!!
DAY 30: A Picture of you last year and Now,how you have changed!! In London in October 2010 Still the same---stolidly solid!!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I make this with "Desi" Chicken or "Cornish Hens" as they are called abroad.This should have a slightly thick gravy.
TOTAL FAT: 18.5 g.,Saturated Fat: 2 g.,Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6 g. Monounsaturated Fat:2 g.
Cholestrol:107 mg.,Sodium:438 mg.,Potassium:795.3 mg.,
Total Carbohydrate :16 g., Dietary Fibre: 3.2 g.,Sugars:4.2 g.,
750 gms.skinned and halved Chicken Thighs
150 gms.Plain Yoghurt(Whole Milk)
0.5 cup Tomato Puree
35 gms.Ginger Root
35 gms,Peeled Garlic Flakes(Cloves)
2 tbsps.Red Chilli Powder(MDH Brand Degi Mirch)
2 tbsps.Everest Brand Kitchen King Spice powder
1 tbsp.Coriander- Cumin Powder
1.5 tsp.Turmeric Powder
Salt to taste
15 sprigs Fresh Mint Leaves
5 tbsps.Ghee(Clarified Butter)
1 small bunch Fresh Coriander Leaves(Cilantro) for Garnishing
1.Blend the Yoghurt till smooth.
2.Wash and drain the Chicken.
Apply 1 tbsp.of the blended Yoghurt to the Chicken.Cover and marinate for 30 minutes.
3.Slice the Shallots thinly lengthwise.Dry roast in a non-stick Wok till the juice dries up.Add 1 tbsp.Ghee and continue sateeing on low heat till the Shallots turn crisp and brown.Grind to a paste.
4.Peel and grind the Ginger root and Garlic together to a fine Paste with a little Water.
5.Blend the Tomato Puree with the Yoghurt to a smooth Mix.
6.Pick,wash and finely chop the Mint and Coriander Leaves separately.
Heat 4 tbsps. Ghee in a non-stick wok.Lower flame.
2.Add the finely chopped Mint leaves and fry for 1 minute.Add the Ginger Garlic Paste and fry till browned.
3.Add the Shallot Paste and continue to fry till well mixed and browned.
4.While frying the Curry Masala keep adding spoonfuls of the Yoghurt-Tomato Mixture are regular intervals till all of it is used up.
5.Keep frying till all the liquid in the Masala dries up and Ghee floats on top.
6.Add the Turmeric Powder and fry for 1 minute.
7.add the Coriander-Cumin and Kitchen King Spice Powders and keep frying for 2-3 minutes more till aromatic and fragrant.
8.Add the marinated Chicken pieces and raise the heat to medium.
9.Fry the Chicken pieces till all the Juices are absorbed and Ghee shows at the sides of the Chicken.
10.Season with Salt to taste and Red Chilli Powder and fry for 2-3 minutes more.
11.Add desired amount of Water,mix well and cover.
12.Cover and simmer till fully cooked.
13.Garnish with finely chopped Coriander Leaves and serve hot with Steamed Rice or piping hot Paranthas.
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