Monday, June 6, 2016

Me, Thalipeeth !

My FB friend Shilpa Karkare  who lives at Tural, near Ratnagiri,  in Kokan   (on the western coast, south of Mumbai) , recently posted a photograph on the makings of a "Thalipeeth"  ( a traditional savoury dry pancake made from a combination of ground roasted grains, onions, chillies, coriander and sometimes even methi (fenugreek leaves). 

Shilpa runs an organization called Rustic Arts, and the Rustic Holidays Homestay, at Tural , Ratnagiri.  Needless to stay , all the yummy traditional food there is cooked on firewood in her kitchen.

A Thalipeeth made on a non stick teflon pan on a gas flame, on the 12th floor of a metro city highrise is not a patch on the thalipeeth made  on a  "chool" powered by firewood, cooking slow , watched by the particles of fire rising up , as a fresh butter lump lies waiting in the freshly churned buttermilk in a cool corner of the room.

Naturally,  one wondered what the thalipeeth must have thought.

I found out. Once in Marathi, then in English.  

आणि भाजणीबाई ,
साग्रसंगीत व कांदा-हिरवाईने सजून
तव्यावर पडली .

नेहमीपेक्षा वेगळं वाटलं ….
नेहमी तव्यावर गरम खूप वाटतं,
पण मधूनच डोळे दिपवणारा ज्वाळेचा उजेड नसतो.
थोडासा ग्यासचा वास असतो ,
आणि शेजारच्या चुलीवर
दूध साई मधून निरखून बघत असते .

आज ह्या चुलीवर ,
सर्पणाचे सुगंध , लाकडांना आठवणारे वृक्ष ,
मधूनच फुंकणीने उडवलेल्या ठिणग्या ,
ज्वाळेचा पसंतीचा प्रकाश ,
आणि भाजणीच्या डाळीना झालेली
आपल्या शेतावरच्या बालपणाची आठवण .

उगी म्हणत गालावर हळूच वितळ्लेला
शुभ्र लोण्याचा गोळा ,
मिरचीच्या ठेच्याचा चुपचाप घेतलेला शोध ,
आणि भाजणीबाई एका ताटलीत बसून,
एका भुकेल्या छोट्याला सामोरे जातात

 And Bhajani Bai,
much adorned with onions and greens
comes to rest
on a hot griddle.

Something different ?

the griddle is singing hot,
but without
the brilliant flashes of a
wild flame;
a slight whiff on natural gas ,
and a suspicious look
from a milk,
peering through the accumulated cream ,
on the burner alongside.

the fragrance of the firewood,
memories of the Mother tree,
flying flame particles ,
from a blowing through a pipe,
the thalipith glowing
in the light of an approving flame,
and the grains of the bhajani
revelling in their memories
of childhood
in the fields.....

The big comforting blob
of homemade butter
understands ,
as it slides across
the thalipeeth face.

And Bhajani Bai, now Lady Thalipeeth,
surreptitiously looks
for a hot Mirchi Thecha
before going forth
in a plate
to face a
very hungry young man....

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