Showing posts with label Different Moods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Different Moods. Show all posts

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baigani ......... Eggplant Fritters

There is a big tamarind tree opposite our house. One of my favorite pass time was staring at that tree for hours. I would look at it and my imagination would take a flight of fantasy. Many a times that tree would look like a big black monster .... the huge trunk representing the face and the branches looked like unkept hair !! It was home to many birds ..... every year I would see a lot of cranes and crows making their nest there. Some how I never got bored staring at it..... I could do that for hours.
One evening when I was in my world of fantasy ......... I was woken up by a loud voice. My mother was asking me to run to the terrace to pick up the washed clothes from the cloth line. The sky had turned grey and there was a mild cool breeze. It could rain any time. I hurried towards the terrace like an obedient child and started picking the clothes. It had begun to drizzle. I handed over the clothes to my mother and ran towards the veranda. I didn't want to miss watching the rain. Pitter Patter ..... it had started to come down and the aroma of the parched earth had spread every where. Sooner the small water droplets had turned into big blobs .... there were tiny winy rainbows on each water bubble before they bursted in a fraction. I climbed on the big cane chair on our veranda .... and sat there watching the downpour.Like the tamarind tree this chair was also permanent ..... I had never seen anyone move it around.
The birds on the tree continued their loud chattering ..... I thought they were getting uncomfortable with the sudden downpour or may be their mothers were yelling at the disobedient ones asking them to get inside the nests. My imagination took wings till I saw some kids from our neighbourhood come out on the roads with umbrellas, splashing water at each other and jumping into small puddles of water. They talked loudly as they walked past our house. I felt jealous of them and wondered how liberal and good their parents were !!
I went inside and carefully pulled out an old newspaper from the pile. I started making paper boats and was waiting for an opportunity to float them. Just to my rescue there was someone who came to our house with an umbrella. He had come to visit my grandpa.
I noticed everyone inside the house were busy. It was a golden opportunity for me. I took his umbrella and sneaked out of the veranda into our garden. I too jumped in the small puddles trying to imitate the kids who had walked past and rowed my paper boats. But moments of happiness don't last long.I had to hurry back. Else I was afraid mom would hold me by my ears and drag me inside !
I scurried back to my favorite spot and started watching the family of birds chattering away. I saw my mother walk up to me with a plate of Baigani. She looked concerned seeing me a little wet. She held me softly and ruffled my wet hair as I munched the fritters with some ketchup.
Preparation Time - 30 minutes
Serves - 4
Chopped Eggplant - 3 cups
Gram Flour - 1/2 cup
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
Method of Preparation
1 Cut Eggplant into thin long slices. Wash and keep aside.
2 Sprinkle salt, red chili powder and coriander powder on them.
3 Add the Gram Four over it. Sprinkle some water to make a thick batter that sticks around the Eggplant pieces.
4 Heat oil in a kadhai. Drop the Eggplants and fry till cooked.
Serving Tips
Serve hot with your choice of ketchup
In Odisha, people eat by mixing puffed rice
You may prepare a batter of gram four separately and dip the eggplant and then fry.
To make it more crunchy, add some rice flour.
Other Names
Baigani - Bringjal Fritters, Eggplant Fritters, Eggplant - Bringjal/ Baingan ,Coriander - Dhania

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Simply Bhindi .....

I was in Ooty in the summer of 2007...... It was after 13 years that I visited Ooty again.I had visited the beautiful hill station when I was in mid school with my parents and sister during our summer break. I felt nostalgic seeing the beautiful mountains and lakes ..... it brought back so many memories of my last trip as a child.

J had rented a bike to move around the beautiful Nilgiris and its surroundings. We wanted to avoid the popular tourist spots and preferred to spend time in secluded places in the mountains far from the madding crowd.

A local who had become our new friend had suggested a place, he called that the Switzerland of India. We left for that place early next morning. It was a long way from our hotel but it was so true to his words !! It looked like a virgin place in the Niligiri Mountains, hardly with any human population. We spent as much time as we could gazing at the beautiful mountains touching the white cottony clouds !! We didn't realize how fast time flew by till we got hungry.

We decided to go to the nearest town for lunch. I spotted a small local eat out on our way back. It looked like a rickety one .... A faded wooden plank hung outside and it had something scribbled on it in Tamil. I walked towards it to check if they served lunch. A dark man with a coarse voice stared conversing in Tamil with me .... I nodded my head without understanding a word.He lead us inside .....There were two wooden tables and benches inside and a bulb hung from the ceiling. It was just enough to light the dark room. I wondered if he is going to serve something edible as I inspected the room around us. I saw the man get some fresh Bhindi from a small kitchen garden behind the so called restaurant !! He hurriedly chopped and fried it adding some spices. And simultaneously prepared some fresh rotis for us.I was surprised seeing him making rotis .... I had the notion that Tamilians eat rice only !! But this guy proved me wrong.

He spread two Banana Leaves in front of us and sprinkled some water on it. He placed the rotis and the Bhindi fry on it. It was the best food that I had during my entire vacation.I could not thank that guy enough for serving us such delicious food. I tried to imitate that recipe back home .... I was near to it but not perfect !! I guess the fresh bhindi from the kitchen garden was the trick to that awesome food.
Preparation Time - 30 minutes
Serves - 3
Chopped Okra - 2 Cups
Chopped Tomato - 1 Cup
Chopped Onions - 2 Cups
Red Chili Powder - 1 tsp
Amchur Powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 1.5 tsp
Salt per taste
Oil for cooking
Method of Preparation
1 Wash the Okra and pat dry using a kitchen towel. Chop the Okra, Onions and Tomato into big chunks.
2 In an open pan, pour some oil. When hot add the cumin seeds to sputter. Add the Okra to it and stir fry.Add a pinch of salt to it.
3 When the Okra gets semi fried, add the chunks of onions. Add cumin powder and salt again. Fry till the onions and Okra are thoroughly fried and there is no slime.
4 Finally add the chopped tomatoes and the amchur powder. Fry for 5 minutes stirring continuously.
5 Remove to a dish and sprinkle some cumin powder to it.
Serving Tips
Serve hot with Roti or Phulka.
Use of Amchur powder is optional.
Other Names
Bhindi - Okra/Ladies Finger, Cumin - Jeera, Amchur - Dry mango powder.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chingudi Jhol

I used to wait for Sunday for reasons more than one ...... certainly not because it was a school holiday but because it was a day free from Corn Flakes and Chattua (made from different pulses and wheat ground together and mixed with milk), also no fights with my sister for the bathroom. It was holiday for mom too ....... so a day for good food and dining !! Like every Sunday, dad left for the fish market early morning, even before I was out of bed . He had to fulfill his duty of getting the fresh catch for his family. That was one of his daily chores apart from the many others that he did to help his loving wife and kids of coarse.

I woke up with the aroma of egg roll ... It amalgamated with the agarbatti smell that mom had lit after the morning Puja. But I was only bothered about the hot egg roll !! So without making a noise I brushed my teeth and ran to the kitchen. I got my serving of egg roll and sat before the television watching my favorite program 'The Jungle Book', popularly known as Mogli and snacked away on the egg roll.

Once dad was back I ran like a little kitten to open the door and inspect the nylon bag in which he usually bought fish. (We have cared for the environment since those days ..... no plastic bags). 'Chingudi' (Prawns) I screamed in delight .... nothing could have made my day better than my favorite egg roll in the morning and then Chingudi Jhol for lunch. Dad and mom discussed about the pricey Chingudi that we were going to have for lunch as my mother carefully cleaned them and smeared them with some turmeric and salt.

Chaarrrr Chaarrrr ...... I heard the Chingudi fly into the hot oil ..... and then the divine smell of the prawn was in every nook and corner of our house. I hurried to the kitchen, my eyes lit up seeing the red-orange fried ones !! I reached out for one ..... and then one more. My mother warned me that if I had my share I would not get any extra for lunch.

I could not wait for lunch to be served. Nothing tastes good than having your favorite dishes cooked by your mother and then eating it with your entire family. Truely satisfying !!
Shrimps - 20 in number
Onion - 1 medium size
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 4 cloves (big ones)
Tomato - 1
Cinnamon Stick - 1 inch
Whole Corriander seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Chillie Powder - 1 tsp
Salt per taste
Oil for cooking
Method of Preparation
1 Clean and devein the shrimps/ prawns. Smear them with some turmeric powder and salt.
2 Grind Onion, Ginger, Garlic, Cumin seeds, Corriander seeds and Cinnamon stick in a mixie to a fine paste. Puree the tomato and keep aside.
3 Heat oil in a pan and fry the shrimps/ prawns. Keep aside.
4 Pour some more oil in a kadhai. When hot put the ground masala, turmeric, red chillie powder and fry till it leaves oil and is cooked. Add the tomato puree and cook throughly. Once cooked add some water and let the gravy simmer.
5 Add the fried shrimps/ prawns to the gravy. Sprinkle the garam masala and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Serving Tips
Serve hot with rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Do not over fry the shrimps, else they turn rubbery.
Fry some potatoes and add to the gravy. Use ready to use tomato puree instead of fresh tomatoes.
Other Names
Chingudi Jhol - Prawn/Shrimp Gravy,Prawn /Shrimp curry

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ice Cream Dreams

Ahh what an weekend, good food and a long nap in the afternoon ..... I woke up and walked half sleepy to the kitchen and opened the fridge. I was craving for something sweet. I vaguely scanned through the shelves and then reached up to the fridger. My eyes popped up ..... I had completely forgotten about the ice lollies that I had picked up from the store last week. I perched on the chair of my patio enjoying the cool evening breeze .... happily licking my lime ice lolly like a small kid.
I heard a jingle outside .... it wasn't a very familiar one.I peeped outside and saw some kids running out of the apartment. The ice-cream truck had arrived - its finally summer, I said to myself.
As I rejoiced the scene of kids around the ice cream truck, I walked down my memory lanes.
Those were the days when having a fridge in one's house was considered luxury. If someone in the neighborhood would buy a new one ..... the others would flock to have a look at it.It was like a festival in the neighborhood. The only rescue that most people looked forward to beat the summer heat was the ice cream man. A dark skinny guy would come selling ice cream every summer evening. Ting Ting Ting ......... one can hear the bell of the ice cream cart and a shrill
shaky voice screaming Ice Creeeeeeeem.
Children would run out with shiny coins in their hands to the rickety ice cream cart. I myself had done this several times. A swarm of kids would hang on to the cart trying to reach their favorite flavor of ice cream. Eyes would shine and lips turn red while rejoicing that flavored ice stick.
Not sure if I can eat ice cream from such a rickety cart any more. But one thing that I am sure of is that, no fancy brand of ice cream can bring back the joy of eating that ice cream.
I finished my ice lolly as I watched the children. I thought eating another one was not a bad idea,after all who cares about calories when it comes to eating your favorite thing ..... I quickly ran outside to the ice cream truck and stood amongst the kids choosing which one to eat.

Photos Courtesy -

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer Vacation

Sometimes we want to slow down in life and unwind - chit - chat with family, call an old friend, enjoy the blooms in the garden or simply turn the pages of an old album. This was one such day when I crawled into the sofa after lunch. Spring was in full bloom ...... one could smell the flowers in the air, birds hopped and chirped and little kids played on the grass. I was also enjoying the sweet innocence of life.
I could hear the cacophony of me and my cousins in the courtyard of my grandparents house in Bhubaneswar. Exams were over and it was my summer break, a time for family re-union.
It was that time of the year when we (me and my younger sister) along with my cousins would visit my grandparents. Afternoon was the time when all of us would curl up to Aai (maternal grandmother) like kittens. It was story time !! Aai would read out stories from Hindu mythology to us till she dozed off.
All of us would sneak out slowly and tip toe to the terrace. We never felt the heat of the Sun or ever bothered about the sun burn or the tan . Soon we would be dragged down by my mom and put to sleep in the afternoons.
Evenings in Bhubaneswar used to be very pleasant. With the Sun going down one could feel the cool breeze and everything would cool down. It was the time to hog on ripe mangoes, watermelon and other summer fruits. Sometimes Aai would make ice creams at home by refrigerating milk mixed with Bournvita. I still relish it more than any fancy brand of ice cream today.
My husband woke me up with a cup of tea ........ I rubbed my eyes and realized that "Summer Vacation" was over !! Like always I never wanted that time to go by so quickly ......
I sipped the hot tea still cozy in my sofa as I watched small droplets of rain trickle down my window panes.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Malgudi Days

This was a typical evening scene during my years of growing up. My father reminding me to study and complete the tasks for that day. Also with some regular gyan of what would happen if I didn't do well in studies and how my future would be dark and full of hardships. My mother chopping vegetables and kneading the wheat flour,getting ready to prepare dinner. And my studious sister at her study table ignorant of what all was going around her.
While we all were engrossed in different things, there was one thing that was common to all of us .... each one of us wanted to complete our chores before 9' o Clock. That was when my father would allow us to switch on the television. Our favorite program "Malgudi Days" would be aired.That was the time when the entire family would come together and enjoy the sweet innocence of Swami (the main character .... popularly known as Chaaaami - that's how his name was pronounced in a typical southern accent).Beautiful village with beautiful landscapes, homely characters which were very near to our real life could be seen and felt through those programs. One could really feel to live in such world.Doordarshan was the only channel those days and there were scheduled hours when programs would be aired. People used to eagerly wait for their favorite ones to come. I remember shops pulling down their shutters and roads getting deserted on Sunday mornings when, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata were aired.But things have changed much now, not sure if the revolution in television industry is doing any good !!Doordarshan has become extinct. We have 24 hours of television with varied types of never ending Saas Bahu serials, Reality Shows like Rakhi ka Swayamvar making headlines due to their unmatched record breaking TRP ratings and some News Channel showing anything and everything but news !!! Well I am not trying to criticize, but I was wondering if we can have some sensible stuff which the entire family can sit and enjoy ..... something that we can remember and smile. I just wish that I could return to "Malgudi Days" !!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Can we all recollect how many times we greet others with a Namaskar or Namaste off late ? I was pondering if the word "Namaste" is soon going to be a thing of the past. Are we forgetting our culture sooner than we should ? As a child my parents and grandparents had taught me to fold my hands and say Namaskar to elderly people. By elderly I don't mean the ones with grey hair .... but any one who is elder to me and is respectable. Not just me I had also seen them greet their friends and peers saying Namaste or Namaskar.
There has been more than one occasion people from outside India have greeted me with a Namaste. A young Italian lady whom I interacted with for a short time during my transit at the Paris Airport had greeted me saying Namaste after I introduced myself as Indian. Many a times in the USA also people have folded their hands to greet me with a warm Namaste. And words can't explain how nice I had felt for that very moment.
I had this practise in me till I came out to see the world on my own and till I became a part of the so called corporate or modern culture. Then started the era of "Hi" and "Hellos" where the gesture of Namaste slowly took a backseat. I still do it when I am home on a vacation. It comes naturally to me. However I feel conscious when I try to do it outside among my peer group and I feel bad when I give it a serious thought.
I have a fear in my mind that it may become extinct with future generations !! The reason being quite obvious ........... since we ourselves are no more practising it we don't teach them to our children.
But have you ever wondered that this simple gesture of saying Namaste makes you feel more closer to the other person. At least it makes me feel so !! And yes like everything I tried finding the reason behind it....... you guys may think I am insane in doing so. I too agree that there is a little bit of madness in everybody and I am no different.
Namaste is combination of two Sanskrit word Nama and Te, meaning bowing to you. Joining of the two palms is symbolic of the good soul within me recognising the one within you. May be that is the reason why we get that warm feeling of belongingness while saying Namaste.
Don't you think this small gesture gives us a unique recognition in the world and we should proudly practise it and teach the importance of it to the future generations.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Childhood Calling

There is a child in everyone .... that's my strong belief. No matter where we are and what we are doing today, the memories of childhood are always nostalgic and are sure to bring smiles to everybody.
I was reading one news article sometime back where people were complaining about power cuts in major cities in India. May be the ones living in villages have got used to it !! For a moment I too started criticizing the government for not doing anything about it ...... but the very next moment when I went down my memory lanes, I remembered how much I used to wait
power cuts during the evening hours as a child and how much I loved the darkness. The reason being obvious - a break from studies.
These power cuts were mostly in the summer time and had scheduled hours. I used to stare at the clock several times waiting for the perfect second when it would get dark. Then all the children in the colony would come out from their houses like rats running in the dark. They would mostly play hide and seek running around the dark trees on a perfect moon lit night. The older girls would gather around the corner gossiping about who was the dumbest teacher in school to beauty tips for pimples and great looking skin and hair. The women would start cribbing about how their kids and husbands never cared to listen to them. And some men would talk about politics, price rise and sports.
These dark hours were a time I believe everyone waited. At least I did !
But like all good things that come to an end ...... this magic hour would get over and I had to drag my feet back home to my study table.