It’s summer and the mangoes are maturing on the trees. The blazing sun keeps all of us indoors – it’s the sanest thing to do. Appetites are waning and you are perpetually parched.
“I hate summer!” you may be tempted to say. But then you remember the mangoes. And the phalsewala who has started doing his rounds. The trees of Delhi come into their own in the summer. The orange of the Semul in early summer has given way to the crimson of Gulmohurs and the trailing yellows of Amaltas.
In the North Indian plains, the mango blooms in early March. The inflorescence consists of hundreds of delicately perfumed flowers that bring the bees in droves. Naturally, not all flowers become fruit and not all fruits reach maturity. A large bunch will perhaps have a dozen mangoes at the most. Most of the fruit falls to the ground through the growth period. We (my Dad) have two trees of the Amrapali variety which grows into a luscious sweet fruit with deep orange pulp when it ripens in early July. When it is green and immature it is tart enough to make a good pickle. But the tiny mangoes that make up the first lot of the fallen fruit end up in the compost pit. Continue reading “Thayir Sadam – Curd Rice”
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find. Even in an extremely urbanised city like Delhi, with hardly any real wilderness left, you will be pleasantly surprised how nature escapes the boundaries we set for her. Plants like bathua (lamb’s quarters) and kulfa (purslane) are common enough. I even found a large patch of sotchal (common mallow) growing wild in Purana Qila one time.
Last year K, my house help, put before me a bag of citrus growing on an unoccupied plot in her colony that no one wanted and was only attracting monkeys and their destructive antics. It looked a lot like our santara, the regular Indian orange; the peel and sections were on point. But there was nothing orange-y about their juice. The juice was sour and bitter, in equal measure. Loathe to see beautiful fruit laid waste she brought me a few confident that I would be able to make something of them.
Continue reading “Bitter Lime Pickle”
After a long period of careful planning tickets had finally been booked for an extended visit to the US of A. Many changes later, on June 5th, we were on the plane to Denver looking forward to our holiday. Yes, we were going to visit Manisha at home and check out her mountains! I was also hoping to catch up with three very close friends from grad school. We had all moved to Colorado after graduating from KSU. It would be fun to walk the streets with V and show him bits and pieces of what made up my daily life for that one year that I was in Denver. Ten days in CO seemed like a good way to start the vacation.
We were flying British Airways (they have fabulous baggage allowance, by the way, 3 x 23 kg per person!) but not looking forward to the eight-hour layover in London. Heathrow is quite the maze and it took us a couple of trips up and down the airport train, to figure out our holding area for the day. Clearing the security check at Heathrow took awfully long with a few anxious moments when it seemed like I was going to have to trash some of the expensive Forest Essentials lotions and potions I was carrying as gifts. A mad dash across the security zone to locate V (he and I had been separated half an hour before), a good throw that sent a tube of hand cream sailing above the crowd of people between us (is he a good catch or what!), and I was able to zip my sanctioned clear-plastic bag. Pretty exciting stuff, enough to break a sweat. Continue reading “Off to a great start in Colorado!”
I grew up at IITD and and the campus Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central School) was my high school. KVIIT was also the campus-school for the two other neighbouring educational campuses – the NCERT and JNU. That was a time when the middle class still sent their children to public schools. My mother was a teacher in the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan but by the time she managed a transfer to KVIIT, I had already graduated. Mr Bhujangarao, from Andhra Pradesh, was our Principal in my last two years at school. He and his family lived on-campus, close to our house, and over the years our families became close friends. As with all good neighbours, there was much exchange of food and recipes. We would visit each other often for dinners; Mrs Bhujanga Rao feeding our need for dosai, idly, and upma, and my mom trying to satisfy her two boys with chhole and rajma. I still remember how I loved the spicy upma, with lots of tomatoes, that she brought for me when I was recovering from some minor illness. Nothing like Guntur chillies to awaken taste buds flatened by sickness.
Our visits continued even after Mr B was promoted and moved a little further in South Delhi, then to Chennai, and even after he retired and moved to Hyderabad. His older son, also a friend, moved to Delhi a few years ago and we call on him when his parents come visiting. Krishna auntie still insists we leave after a meal, lunch or dinner – as the case may be, and it is very hard for me to turn down her cooking. When she was getting ready to leave Delhi many decades back, I requested her mango pickle recipe. We knew we would miss her gentle ways and her cooking, but, at least, we didn’t have to live the rest of our lives without her mango pickle! Continue reading “Green Mango Pickle, Andhra-style”