Thursday, August 30, 2012

Home is where the Saag is......

It is often a challenge to recreate traditional regional Indian dishes when you stay away from your home country. But there is nothing an observant and learning mind cannot solve.

Gastronomically , India is a rich tapestry of regional cuisines, which are enjoyed by folks across the country.

My blogger friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne,  decided to make a traditional rural Punjabi  meal, of Makke ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag (Mustard Greens with Maize Flat Bread). And she did it using Chinese Spinach or Choy Sum and Swiss Chard or Silver Beet Greens.  She also made it a slightly less richer version , calorifically speaking, in keeping with the times.....

Read the entire post and recipe here.

The result clearly was more than mouthwatering. It also spawned a poem in Marathi, with a version in English.  

And to those, ignorant of it, a concept of Maher (a married girl's parental home), Maherpan (a married girl's homecoming  accompanied by some great indulgent fuss), and Saasar (her marital home, often with a mother-in-law ,,,,)

उलटे ऋतू असलेल्या देशात
सासरी आलेली ती ,
स्वप्नात मोहरीचे मळे,
पिवळी धम्म फुलं,
ताज्या लोण्याचे गोळे

आणि शेतात शिजवलेली
मक्के कि रोटी आणि सर्सोन का साग बघते.

आज कालच्या ई युगात
पालेभाज्या सुधा एकमेकांना ईमेल करतात .

आणि मग एक दिवस अचानक
सौ. चोय्साम्बाई मोहरीमल चिने,
गडद हिरवा शालू नेसून,
जरा वयस्कर सौ. चान्देरीबाई बिट्यान्चासह तिच्या घरी पोचल्या ....
पदर खोचून कामाला लागल्या .
"अग मिर्चे , नुसता "आले आले" काय म्हणतेस,
त्याला कान्देभौजीन्बरोबर, लसण्यासकट घेउन ये,कि !
ऑलिवआजी थांबल्या आहेत केव्हाच्या ....."

शेवटी त्या दोघी स्वतः ही त्यात पडल्या,
आणि येणाऱ्या नवरात्रीच्या भोंडल्याची आठवण व्हावी
इतक्या गोल गोल फिरून
मजेत मिसळल्या....
थोडंसं पाणी , किंचित लिंबुरस, आठ्वणीन्चा मसाला,
आणि एव्हड्यात दमलेल्या सगळ्यांवर
त्या सासुर्वशिणीने हलकेच पिठाची शाल पांघरली.

मनात खूप आठवणी दाटल्या ,
तिचा चेहरा बघून तव्याला काय वाटले कोण जाणे ;
मक्याच्या पीठाकडे त्याने लाल डोळे वटारले,
पटापटा रोट्या चुपचाप तयार झाल्या .

ती जेवायला बसली.
हौसेने खाल्ले .
आणि मग ती संगणकावर बसली
तेव्हा भारातात्ल्या पालेभाजीने पाठवलेली ईमेल दिसली ...
"लेक किती वर्ष्यात माहेरी आली नाही,
चोय्साम्बाई आणि चान्देरीबाई,
जरा माझ्या लेकीच माहेरपण कराल का ?".......

Ensconced Down Under,
in her  Saasar,
she dreams
of the
golden yellow  fields,
the mustard greens,
and the delicious
traditional meal of
makke ki roti and sarson ka saag,
with a cheerful dollop of
fresh churned butter.

She doesn't know that
in these E-days,
even Greens send emails
to each other....

And so it came to pass
Mrs ChoySum Mustardy Chinawalla
in a grand green silk
a slightly senior
Mrs ChanderiBai Beetay
came visiting
and tucking in their saree ends,
simply got down to work.

"Stop calling out, Mirchi,
and just drag The Gingerfolks here,
when you escort
Lords Onion and Garlic;
can't keep Grandma Olive waiting, can you?"

In the end
both the ladies joined in,
and shaking
and moving in circles,
as if participating in the Navratri Bhondla
of Maharashtra.

Some freshening with water,
lemon juice,
some spicy memories of old,
and suddenly
the lady of the house,
a light wet shawl of maize
over all the tired cooked folks.

Her childhood
in vivid recall,
displayed across her expressive face,
the griddle noticed,
and red hot in anger,
ordered the maize dough
to organize itself
without fuss
quickly in
delicious cooked rounds.

She set a place,
sat down
and partook of the amazing meal.

And when she logged in
on her laptop
soon after
to check email,
she saw the message
from the Indian Mustard Greens
to the Greens Down Under.

"Our daughter, far away,
hasn't been able to visit
her Maher for so long.....
Choy Sum and Chanderibai ladies,
would you visit
and give her a taste of Maherpan ?"


  1. OFFCOURSE IT IS, so true.. yummmy oh boy if i ring today and tell my nani "Bibi ji , I am coming tomorrow" , you know and this is for a fact , SAAG and makki di roti will be THERE made just for me ..

    you made me emotional here now ... :( i miss home


    1. Bikram, Thank you ! Hope you get to enjoy the Makki di Roti and Saag soon !

  2. I dream of makke ki roti and sarson ka saag as well. In Bangalore, we don't easily find mustard greens, so I am growing them at home :). Loved the poem!

    1. Rachna, Thank you ! Home grown stuff is the best kind ! Enjoy !

  3. A wonderful post indeed..with a lovely poem!
    The picture of saag and roti is mouth watering:)

  4. What magic world is this! What consciousness!! Please write a full length book of these universes in verses!