Here is the link to my latest poem, 102nd, on Poemhunter.com
Here is the link to my latest poem, 102nd, on Poemhunter.com
A few days ago, in October 2019, on my way home from work, I heard an e-rickshaw driver calling out in Hindi,
“Chahiye ek savari,
Halki ho ya bhari,
Nar ho ya nari!”
His co-passengers were giggling. I also chuckled as I mentally translated this into English. The translated version too sounded very good.
Here it is.
“Need just one more passenger.
Of whatever gender.
Lighter or heavier.”
Like plants, even poems sometimes spring up in the most unlikely places, don’t they?
Well, I stretched the poem a little bit more. It was so much fun! Here you go.
We will move further,
Ahead, past the boulder.
You are sadder or happier
Today, it doesn’t matter.
See if you can add some more lines to it. I would love to know.
Way back in the late 80s, when we came to live in this neighbourhood in Vikaspuri in West Delhi, there used to be rows of green patches of trees, shrubs, herbs, and flowers outside each house at ground level. Only one or two houses like ours had an additional floor.
With increasing affluence and expanding families, however, additional floors with internal parking spaces for accommodation of private vehicles were added to these houses. The green patches soon turned into concretized spaces occupied by more cars. You may wonder how these public spaces got concretized. Well, in its zeal to lay down new water pipelines, the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi), a Government agency, accomplished this objective after indiscriminately clearing up all the greenery. Very much like a juggernaut. The same agency distributes free tree saplings these days. But where is the space to plant them?
Those of us who love greenery are now compelled to indulge in our passion by growing trees, flowers, vegetables, and Tulsi plants in flower pots on our balconies and terraces.
If you look again at the pic on the top clicked from my balcony with flowers and a karela (bitter gourd) jutting out, you will notice how the rows of plants stoically watch the rows of cars below them ocupying the spaces that once upon a happy time were theirs…
But things are changing again. Parking facilities and roads are insufficient. Come November 2019 and odd-even rule will be in full force. Owning a vehicle is, in fact, a big hassle these days and moving around in a Metro train or an Ola or Uber cab makes better sense.
Well, who knows, what the future holds. We can only hope that the green patches return where they were earlier without subjecting the Indian automobile industry to the kind of extreme stress that it is reeling under at present.
Or perhaps, the concrete road will remain and people will keep buying cars; but there will be a hydroponic farm on every terrace…☺️
Isn’t it tragic that in spite of being such a wonderful vegetable, pumpkin is not as popular as it deserves to be? Most people add a lot of spices while cooking it to make it more palatable.
I recently cooked pumpkin in two different ways with just the basic ingredients (salt, turmeric, mustard seeds, mustard oil, and one whole red chilli) and I was pleasantly surprised to find it so delicious! Well, that proves that food can be tasty even without too many spices.
Here are the step-by-step pics.
1. Pumpkin with Karela (bitter gourd): Pumpkin neutralizes the bitterness of Karela and the net effect is absolutely heavenly.
First chop the Karela into thin slices and soak them in salted water for about 30 minutes. Then wash them thoroughly and squeeze excess water from them. Deep fry these karela pieces in small batches in hot, smoking mustard oil till they turn light brown. Keep them aside in a plate.
Next, keep only 2 tablespoonfuls of mustard oil in Karachi and pour out the remaining hot muatard oil in a utensil. Heat the Karachi again and add 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds and one whole red chilli. Once spluttering starts, add chopped pumpkin, turmeric, and salt as per taste.
Once the pumpkin becomes a bit soft, add the fried karela pieces and put a cover after lowering the gas flame. This will prevent burning.
Keep checking every 2 minutes till the vegetables are tender without becoming mushy.
Your pumpkin-karela dish is ready. Bon Appetit!
2. Grated Pumpkin
Here, the method is same as above, except that this time you use the grated pumpkin.
Alu-Gobhi (potatoes and cauliflower) sabji is a very popular dish in North India. It has to be made with great care as Gobhi (cauliflower) tends to soften faster than alu (potatoes) and you run the risk of ending up with mashed cauliflower with potatoes standing out, which doesn’t taste good.
In an ideal Alu-Gobhi Sabji sabji, alu and cauliflower pieces are soft without being mushy and have a spicy, crispy, fried taste.
A lot of chefs first deep fry the alu and cauliflower pieces separately and then cook them together in a karahi with the required spices, curd, tomatoes, and some more oil. This takes far too much time and oil.
On 28 July 2019, I discovered an easier, simpler, and far healthier method of cooking Alu-Gobhi without compromising on that typical restaurant-like taste.
Here are the step-by-step pics. Do try out this recipe and write back. I look forward to reading your comments.
1. Start off by steaming chopped potatoes and cauliflower in a pressure cooker. Be careful while you do this as there is a risk of overboiling. Usually, one whistle or just when the whistle is about to begin is sufficient cooking time. My mini pressure cooker is of Prestige and in one whistle, it parboils without making the items too soft. Once done, place the veggies on a sieve and let the excess water drain out into a container below. You can use it in making other dishes such as dals or soups, etc.
2. Grind ginger and make a rough paste.
3. Heat some oil in a thick-bottomed karahi. Once it is hot, lower the gas flame and add turmeric, chilli powder, whole Cummin seeds, and whole corriander seeds powder.
4. Then add the veggies, ginger paste, and one red chilli. Stir a few times and allow the veggies to fry properly. Mix well and add salt and amchur as per your taste. Your Alu-Gobhi bhaji is ready. Enjoy.
5. You can add grated paneer too in the end. I had some paneer-onion bhurji in the fridge, so I added this to the Sabji when it was done.
Read my other food recipes here. https://wordpress.com/page/jasbirchatterjeephotoblog.wordpress.com/8762
Photo courtesy: Shampa Das
I think of my kitchen these days more as a laboratory than a place where I slave away morning and evening.
Not only does this fulfill my deep-seated, unrealized dream of being a research scientist, it also helps me to take every botched cooking experiment as a learning experience and move on to other things without any guilt whatsoever about wasted time and resources.
I recently discovered, for instance, pureeing vegetables, especially the unpopular ones like the pumpkin and lauki, and adding other ingredients yields amazing results. The vegetables, when combined in this manner, get completely transformed beyond recognition into food items that your family enjoys eating! Isn’t that a great thing these days with sky-rocketing prices of vegetables?
Given below are some examples with pics.
First assemble all the ingredients: chopped green onions, garlic, tomatoes, green coriander, soaked chana dal, boiled lauki, hing, whole jeera (cummin) seeds, mustard seeds.
Heat some oil in a karahi and add garlic, whole cummin, soaked chana dal, hing, and sarson.
Next, add onions.
Add green onions.
Add spices, roasted besan.
Now add tomatoes and green coriander.
Stir and add pureed lauki.
Add pao-bhaji masala. Stir and mix.
Keep stirring till oil separates and you get something like the pic on top..
The pic on top is of bhaji made from leftovers, potato-beans-peas combination and pumpkin, lying idle in fridge. I mashed the combo in a karahi and treated it with tomato puree, chilli powder, and pau-bhaji masala…It tasted heavenly.😊
I pureed leftover Khichdi in the mixie and added besan, one chopped onion, one chopped potato, green coriander, and some spices along with salt to the batter. I added some water to adjust the consistency. I deep-fried spoonfuls of this batter and turned them into pakoras. They were amazing! See pic above.
On the night of 14 February 2019, after reaching home from work, I felt something crawling on my neck. I quickly brushed it aside and it landed on the dressing table. I was startled to find that it was not an ordinary moth, but a gold-colored beetle, something I had never ever seen all my life! Where it had come from, I had no idea. I watched it with wide-eyed wonder as it crawled upwards slowly in a leisurely manner…I quickly grabbed my phone and clicked its photos.
People say when such things happen, you should make three wishes. They are always granted.
You might wonder why someone with a postgraduate degree in Mathematics believes in these kinds of superstitions. Well, as you grow older, you realize that a lot of things defy logic and only love, faith, willpower, and positive thinking can make things happen the way you want them to.
I was, of course, too shell-shocked at that time to think of anything else. Today as I look at this pic again, I make those three wishes.
1. I hope and pray that my daughter Suroshri grows up to be a successful, happy, and wonderful human being.
2. My husband Sukhangshu becomes what he deserves to be, a famous Actor.
3. On the same day that this beetle crawled into my life, 40 Indian soldiers lost their lives in Pulwama in a suicide terror attack. Many innocent lives continue to be lost in terror attacks and wars. I wish and pray that violence, wars, and terrorism end and don’t exist even in a dictionary.
And now, my Dear Reader, here is something special for you and your loved ones. Watch this video and make those 3 wishes that you think will give joy to your loved ones and the world around you. Who knows, they might come true, like it did for me!
N.B: As per Google, the Golden Beetle is a native of the Americas. It is not known how this particular one reached India. Something to do with Donald Trump and reverse migration perhaps!☺️
Following in my husband and daughter’s footsteps…
See more pics here.
Satyajit Ray’s Sonar Kella…At night…
Safari in the Sam Dunes…
Present King’s Palace and Office…
To all those soldiers
who sacrificed their precious lives
That care little for human lives…