I’ve been away a while. Well, we were planning this vacation-of-a-lifetime, a six-week holiday in another part of the world! How many people can manage that today! The preceding month was crazy at work; the blog had to take the backseat again. Vijay was at his desk till an hour before we were to leave for the airport. We didn’t even get the time to dig out winter woollies from the big trunk in the storeroom. I was going to arrive in the US with no fashionable warm clothes. The taxi arrived and V was still to shower and eat. Eventually, we did manage to zip-up the cases and leave for the airport in time. As long as we had money and passports, we didn’t need to worry.
The following six weeks turned out to be a vacation to remember. Friends and family shared generously their time and their homes and we got another peek at the amazing country that is the USA. How much of it I will be able to recount here I don’t know – it took me over a month and five poststo cover our 10 days in Ladakh last year! But I love to go back and re-read all the travel posts here. It is surprising how much we forget as time passes. The brain stores but foggy memories and none of the detail. I do want to remember this trip. I turned 50 last month and this vacation turned out to be quite the celebration! It wasn’t planned with that in mind though.
Growing up, I had no idea we could eat this fruit. There were many bushes on the big mound of the Rose Garden at IIT Delhi. While playing there in the summer evenings, we would try to avoid the gardeners’ eyes and pluck a few. They were too sour to really be enjoyed. One time I and my sister ended up with throats so sore that we never ventured near another narangi. Sometime back kumquats surfaced on Indian food blogs and I thought maybe the idea needed a rethink. But no one I knew cooked with them.
A couple of months back we were at Vijay’s cousin’s house for dinner, and his wife, Jyotsna, a fantastic cook, served us narangi pickle made much the same way I make my sweet and sour lime pickle. The fruit was from the trees her mother-in-law had planted outside their ground floor flat. Even in a mature pickle the fragrance of the fruit was remarkable. She told me the next crop would be ready soon. I reserved a portion of the harvest and early this month I got a call from her that the fruit had been plucked and I’d better collect my share as soon as possible. I went that very morning – there was no time to waste – and brought home the bounty.
I have been vegging the last two days. TV and the couch have been a major part of this weekend. Before the weekend comes to an end I think I should clear a few pending things [too late…it’s midweek alreadyalmost end-of-week the weekend already!]. Reviews for one…
In March this year (yes, you cannot depend on me for a timely post) I was sent a box of picture perfect Washington apples by the India representatives of Washington Apple Commission(!). I was invited to a tasting session which I declined since my 9-6 time is usually spoken for during the workweek, and hence, the delivery. Each one of those seven specimens (Braeburn, Cripps Pink, Fuji, Gala, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith) were easily amongst the best apples I have ever eaten. Crisp, juicy, and flavourful.
The only problem with the apples is that they are not local. Far from it. They really are from Washington, USA! I was hoping that they had just been named after some Washington varieties grown in Himanchal. It is one thing to occasionally try out exotic fruits (and ingredients) but quite another to eat apples on a regular basis that are flown in all the way from the US of A! Is it the same as Indians in the US splurging on the recently-allowed-to-be-exported Alphonso? Perhaps not since our own apples here are neglected for lack of proper storage and transportation facilities. Look for good apples from Kinnaur and Kashmir; crisp, with just a hint of tartness. It is impressive that the imported ones sell at all since they are priced at double the local ones (Rs90 vs. Rs 180/kg!). But, then in summer Delhites will buy the ones imported from New Zealand at almost Rs300/kg! I think I might be too middle class for Delhi. If only we would import quince… Well, we could encourage the Kashmiris to plant some more quince trees instead, I suppose. Here’s a promise – if I am ever safe to return to my homeland I will start my own quince and sour cherry orchard! Continue reading Couch Potato
Natural. Home made. Brew with a (nonalcoholic) kick. Lip smacking. Kanji.
Every winter I look at the black-purple carrots that appear in the vegetable markets of Delhi and the rest of Northern India, and make a mental note to track down a recipe for kanji. As far as I know, they are used only in the making of this fiery colourful end-of-winter drink. And every year passes just the same as the previous one.
Now, this blog has given me a lot of readers. Some of the readers have gone on to become good friends. Friends who share their views and opinions – and I am glad you are opinionated – share their likes and dislikes (of people, of colours and pictures on this blogand in general, punctuation and pronunciation, and of course, food related stuff). Some have been willing to risk sharing their blog… only to end up fuming later at some very persistent confusion regarding ‘the real owner of IFR’ as the movement spread! I wasn’t complaining about the unintentional link-love it brought. Especially, since I haven’t exactly been in the thick of it all this past year.