Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Last Omelette Dance

You can take me out of Pune, but you cannot take Pune out of me.  This from someone born, brought up in Pune, and who went to college  in the Deccan area, and has seen popular eating places and hangouts , change hands over the years.

This one has not.

My friend Shakti Salgaonkar, just posted this capture of a Omellete Pav Sandwhich she probably had at an early morning breakfast  in Pune's  Cafe Goodluck at Deccan.  A traditional Irani place, having catered to at least 3 generations of folks , from a time, when anything beyond East Street, Parvati,  Pune Station, and University was considered "out of town" .  

Sometimes, you see a photograph and  feel full . This was one of those days.

डेक्कन वरच्या सकाळच्या थंडीत ,
टेनिस खेळून येणारी
शुभ्र कपडे परिधान केलेली
मध्यम वयीन मंडळी ,
आणि टेकडी वरून खाली उतरून,
वैशाली च्या नाकावर टिच्चून
तिला भेटायला येणारी
"गुडलक गुडलक"
म्हणणारी  बाकीची .

सोनेरी गाउन  वर
कांद्याचे स्वारोव्स्की ,
आणि पुणेरी
मिरची कोथिम्बिर बुट्टे,
आणि घेर सांभाळत ,
चाय च्या वाफा चुकवत ती येते,
पावाच्या मिठीत शिरते ,
आणि उन्हाच्या
खिडकीतून येणार्या
कवडस्याच्या ताज्या उजेडात
तिचा आयुष्याचा  शेवटचा फॉक्सट्रोट
सुरु होतो….

Early misty
Deccan winter mornings,
middle aged
voluble  champions
in tennis whites
aggregating there
along with
those having descended the Tekdi,
having cocked a snook
at Vaishali
"Good Luck , Good Luck" .

And she arrives,
a vision
in a golden gown,
studded with Onion Swarovski
mixing happily with
Puneri Mirchi Kothimbir Buttaas,
managing the spread
amidst vapours of the tea,
only to enter
into the arms of a Pav.

Amidst sunrays
streaming intermittently
through an old glass window
she must now begin
to dance
the last Foxtrot
of her life......

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Listen to the Parijat !

My friend Sangeeta Khanna lves in the capital, and is blessed to have a garden with lots of useful, traditional , and decorative greens. She also makes teas from many traditional greens from her garden, and the Parijat ( Night flowering jasmine or Nyctanthes arbortristis) tree  leaves , is one of them.

Thanks to the excessive pollution in Delhi,  the Parijat leaves , at least those that are a bit older , now boast a layer of smog, as may be seen in the photograph  here, clicked and posted by Sangeeta.   I wonder what the Gods feel about being worshipped with smog-encrusted flowers smelling of weird hydrocarbons..

The leaves don't protest, fight in Parliament , or even take half hearted decisions based on popularity. 

That is left to stupid, evolved , greedy bipeds like us.

And then , sometime, somewhere, nature teaches  us a lesson. 

Smoggy deposits
on the green lungs of the city,
and still they
bravely carry on
and standing in support
of the young ones
with orange stems
and white fragrance
for the Gods.

We shameless
evolved cerebral folks
follow corrupted
power Gods
and pretend to
bravely carry on
evenly and oddly ,
spewing the exhaust
of mindless wheelers
and yes,

Does it take a deluge
to wipe off
the deposits
on the leaves ?

Think .

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Tolerant Pickle....

A favourite pickle made  on the spur of the moment from freshly shelled peas, Delhi carrots and crisp cauliflower.   Steeped in pickle masala , tingling Tadkas and copious lemon juice.

Folks typically do NOT wait for the vegetables to marinate. Much of it gets finished under the guise of "tasting"  it.

So you make a lot of it .  How wonderful it tastes with Dahi Bhat, Bhakri and such pillars of Maharashtrian Cuisine, is the subject of another poem....

And like all other times when the poetry keeda strikes , there is also something to learn from this pickle. .... 

काहींच्या डोक्यावर पानं ,
काहीन्न्ना कवटाळून बसलेली पानं ,
आणि काहीं तर जन्मापासून
हिरवाईत बंद ,
आणि मग एके दिवशी हळूच
हिरव्या मोत्यासारखे टपकन बाहेर…

जन्म कुठ्लांही,
आई वडील कोणीही असूनही
झालेला असला,
तरी एकत्र येउन
एखाद्या बरणीत
एकामेकाबरोबर घालवण्याची मजा
काही औरच असते.

फोडणीत चुर्चुर्ण ,
लिंबाच्या रसात डुम्बण,
कधी दही भात,
कधी ब्रेड
कधी पोळी
कधी भाकरी
सर्वांबरोबर समभावाने रम्ण,
आणि हसत खेळत
एखाद्या चोरून चव घेणार्या बोटाला
कौतुकाने चिकटण…

कधीतरी आपल्या राजकारणी
ह्यांच्या कडून सहिष्णुता म्हणजे काय
ते शिकतील का ?
 Some sprout leaves
on their head,
some are simply wrapped
precociously in leaves,
and some
remain enclosed in green,
till the moment of birth
emerging as little green pearls.

of place of birth,
method of birth ,
or even parentage,
they come together
in a celebration
of life,
often deemed,
full of salt,
sometimes spicy hot,
occasionally bitter,
and so many times
simply sour,
and a few times,
as they fool around
and have fun
in a porcelain jar.

Shuddering under a Tadka,
swimming in
the juice of lemons,
giving sufficient time
to all folks like
Dahi Bhat,
and an occasional
indulgent touch
to a finger
trying to dip in
and taste them all.

Will our intolerant politicians
learn something
about tolerance
from these folks?    

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sthitpradnya Bozo....

This has been a season for amazing changes in the two blogger dogs that I know.

Luci Shail, of Thiruvananthapuram, one of the most active, frisky, strongwilled and determined dogs, has suddenly become  aware that she is now a teenager, has calmed down, and thinks things out before reacting. I wrote about this here , after recently meeting her.

And now there is Bozo, Mumbai's senior blogger dog, who has seen a lot of the world, and thanks to peering over books, listening to prayers and discussions, and  watching programs on visual media,  he is slowly becoming  what most old folks should be, but are unable to be.  

A sthitpradnya.  He often makes a great effort to look inwards, as they say , in the face of a situation , where there are delicious smells emanating from the Amembal kitchen . 

His mentor and chronicler, Deepak, clicked him in one of his stithpradnya moments ..

He has been through it all.

Thrill, Hankering,
anger, jealousy,
and mean thoughts
about Desert Stormes
hiding in the garage.

But unlike her,
he reads, observes and learns.

In a world
where so many lose good sense
while chasing power,
and redefine truth,
he is a shining example
of how an elder should be.

by dear ones going away,
across the seas,
balanced when faced
with yummy things in life,
and forgiving
of those on 2 wheels ,
who fire and roar
and know not what they do,
he now has complete control
over his senses,
the sign of a true Sthitpradnya.

But sometimes,
just sometimes,
the smell of a dosa is
just too much.

And he has learned
to turn his face away
with great determination
and strength
and wait for his proper mealtimes. 

a role model
for dogs on the Web.

And then one wonders,
why only dogs ?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chutney Manaat Ghusli .... चटणी मनात घुसली

 In an age where everything comes in a bottle, can or tube, the Lasoon Chutney made in a cast iron heavy mortar and pestle  is simply incomparable,  unmatched , and reigns supreme. 

When it is part of your childhood and you remember the rhythmic thud while  garlic , coconut and chillies go to pieces , with some sympathetic tamarind joining in,  you simply smell it all , and remember having it with hot bhakris of the griddle, white butter, and buttermilk to wash it down.

 My friend Shama Bedekar , recently posted her Lasoon-chutney  memories in a nostalgic post in Angat Pangat, a FB group dedicated to Rediscovering Traditional Maharashtrian  Cuisine.   Her photo of the chutney  evoked strong memories , and possibly inspired folks to get started again with chutneys of their own.

Good going !  Though it isn't really about the ingredients only.  Many times, it is about the hands that made it, and then sat you down indulgently at a table and had you enjoy a fresh hot meal...... 

मन भराय भराय ,
हिवळ्यातली न्याहरी,
लसुणा, खोबर्याची बत्त्याशी चालेली झटापट,
वरून साध्या पण आतून स्फोटक
अश्या लाल मिरच्यांचे
खळबळजनक पदार्पण;
ह्या महाभारतीय युद्धात
चिंचोके विरहित चीन्चेने केलेली
आत्मसमर्पणीत शिष्ठाई,
आणि मग
युद्ध विरामा प्रीत्यर्थ ,
सर्वांनी एका बरणीत केलेली चितन बैठक .

आणि मग
तव्यावर फुलणारी
"इश्श्य" म्हणत पापुदर्याचे कौतुक ऐकत
ताटात पडून
ताज्या लोण्याला खुणावणारी
"हाय , मेरे कलेजे के तुकडे हो रहे है "
असे म्हणत
चटणीकडे बघत
तृप्त मनाने लोण्याला वितळव्णारी
ज्वारीची दशमी ,

कुणा एका लेकीच्या
चेहर्यावर असीम आनंद ,
आणि एक आजी ,
लोण्याचा विरह सहन न झालेया
गोड ताकाला ,
जिरे मीठ लाउन
हळूच एका वाटीत ओततात ,
आणि म्हणतात ,
" जरा तव्यावरची दशमी भाजते आणि वाढते हो,
तो पर्यंत हे अदमोर ताक घे. ….
मन आणि अन्न ,
कसं विविध चवीनॆ भरलेलं असावं ,
आणि मग आयुष्य कसं

अगदी भराय भराय …. "
A mind
brimming with cheer,
a breakfast in winter,
and a tussle
Lasuna and Dry Coconut
in a Mortar-and-Pestle place.

Then a spicy entry
by some misleading
simple looking
but explosive Red Mirchis,
a tumultuous war,
a Mahabharat
with some Seedless Tamarind  
playing negotiator
and peace maker,
and a final "retreat"
enjoying each other
at the Barni Jar Resort.

And then
a Jowar Bhakri,
blooming in pride
on a griddle,
going "Oh! My, My !"
at folks admiring its layers,
then quietly signalling
to an innocent lump
of white butter,
that just melts
at the sight
of the Bhakri's full  heart
going to pieces
at the sight of the
flavourful Lasoon Chatni

A favourite daughter
enjoying it all
at the table,
and a grandma,
eyes full,
the Lady Buttermilk
recently separated from the butter,
applies a pinch
of cumin and salt,
and pours her
a bowl of buttermilk,
"Another fresh hot Bhakri
coming up !
Till then ,
enjoy the fresh buttermilk....
Your mind and your food
needs to
be brimming
with all the flavours.
That's when
you enjoy
a fulfilling life !

A Kuleeth Life .. कुळीथांचे जीवनगाणे

Kulthaacha Pithla , a preparation of Kuleeth or Horse gram as it is called , is a very traditional preparation from Kokan, best enjoyed with fragrant freshly steamed rice , along with some more traditional stuff like roasted Poha Papads, fried solar dried stuffed mirchis, and even dahi , playing a mature peacemaker amidst all the strong stuff. 

My friend Deepa Godbole Joshi who blogs at Foodlyrics  , posted this very nostalgic entry  with a photograph , of Kulthaacha Pithla ,  on the Facebook page of Angat Pangat, a group dedicated to rediscovering Traditional Maharashtrian Cuisine.

I have memories from my childhood , of the flavours emanating from my family kitchen as the Kuleeths were roasted, and then folks gently grinding them by hand by a stone set of grinding wheels operated by two people sitting in  a large balcony , singing some typical ballads.   Then a fragrant kuleeth pithla enjoyed with hand pounded rice or Jowar Bhakri, amidst a spicy crunch of Poha papad and fried mirchis; and a meal ending with cool fresh buttermilk .

History says that Shivaji Maharaj  used to drink a large bowlful of gruel made from Kuleeth Flour before setting out on his campaigns.  They used to call them Hulge.   

You know what he achieved.

I guess all we ordinary folks can do is dream ..... 

आपल्या गावचे तांदूळ राव
देशावर जातात काय
कोकणची आठवण येउन
त्याना लोकं आंबेमोहोर म्हणतात काय ,
असा विचार करतच
पिशवीतल्या कुळीथान मध्ये
कुजबूज सुरु.

मग आंबोळी घाटावरून
कोल्हापूरमार्गे पुण्यात,
आणि मग केलेलं भाताचे व्रत …

स्वतःला एखाद्या लोखंडी कधी मध्ये
मंद आचेवर भाजून घेणे ,
जेणे करून
दोन मजले खाली
लोक वासाने हवालदिल होतील .
मग एका सुपात विश्रांती ,
आणि एका संगीतमय जात्यात
स्वतःचे झालेले बारीक
ओवीबद्ध संस्कारित पीठ.

कुळीथाची कुणकुण लागताच
एका कुकर मध्ये
हर्षभराने फुलून येणारा आंबेमोहोर भात,
आतुरतेने वाट बघतो ,
आणि एकिकडे
कुळीथाचा शृंगार सुरु…

एका काळ्या लोखंडी कढईत
तळप्णारे तेल,
त्यात खळ्बळत उसळ्णार्या मोहर्या ,
"आलेच" असं म्हणत हिंगाला घेउन
स्वतःला झोकून देणार्या
लाल चुटूक ओठान्सार्ख्या मिरच्या ,
त्यांच्या मागे मागे जाणारे बारीक
चिरलेले कांदे,
सर्वानवर लक्ष ठेउन ,
योग्य वेळी आपली पर्यवेक्षकी भूमिका
आत पडणार्या लसुणा….

"ये ग ", म्हणत कोकमा ला धरून
आत पडणारे पाणी ,
आणि कढईत सगळ्याना फुटलेल्या
आनंदाच्या उकळ्या .

एकिकडे वाफ़ाळत ताटात पोचलेला
आतुरतेने वाट बघणारा भात,
हळु हळु कढईत पडत आपला शृंगार
समाप्त करत कुळीथा ,
भुर्भूर्लेले मीठ ,
सरते शेवटी
डाव मामांबरोबर
ताटात भाताच्या गावी पोचलेली कुळीथा .

ताटकळत भाजून निघालेले पोहेपापड ,
तळलेल्या सांडगी मिरच्या
आणि शांतीस्वरूप दही ,
एकिकडे वाट बघतात
आणि भात्कुळीथ मिलन पाहून
म्हणतात ,
" किती दिवस वाट पाहतायत दोघे ,
त्यांना थोडा आणखीन वेळ देउ
आणि मग जाउ भेटायला ,
हो कि नाही ?
 So many Kuleeths
in a cloth bag
discussing and gossiping
about Tandul Rao
emigrating to the Plains,
being called AmbeMohor,
in honor
of his native Kokan.

And so they traverse
to the plains
at Amboli
and  mobilize
to do the Vow of the Rice...

A gentle but firm roasting
in a cast iron kadhai,
flavours emanating
to the street below,
a quiet cooling rest,
and then a
powdery crush amidst
some Ballads of the
Hand Grinding Wheel...

The rice,
excited by the arrival
of the Kuleethas ,
puffed and steaming with joy,
of the preparations
of Lady Kuleethas .

Hot agitated Oil,
Bursting mustard seeds ,
and shapely lip shaped
Red Mirchis
throwing themselves in
with the Hing types;
the finely chopped
gossiping onions,
quietly falling in,
the Garlic monitor
finally making its entry,
having completed
its in-charge duties.

An understanding Waterwoman
joining in,
along with some Kokam kids,
and everyone erupting
inside in a joyous boiling....

A bit of final salting,
and the Kuleetha,
now a beautiful Pithla,
gets escorted
as per tradition
by a maternal Ladle Uncle
to meet
a stunned steaming rice
waiting in the plate.

Roasted Poha Papads,
Fried Saandgi Mirchis
and a quiet peaceful
accommodating Dahi ,
the meeting
and decide to wait a bit ;
after all,
as they said ,
"They've waited to meet for so long,
why grudge them
a few minutes more na
? "