Tuesday, September 26, 2017

On being an icecream in Budapest.....

 My friend Vidya Vartak Joshi recently posted fotos of icecreams she enjoyed in Budapest, Hungary.

What was special about these icecreams was that , unlike cones which are generally burdened under several random scoops of icecream, these were sculpted like roses.   These edible works of art clearly needed to be highlighted. Beautiful, delicious, in several colors and in various shades of the same primary color.

What had not changed, was the fact that they , like all ice creams around the world,  melted.

Never mind. They deserved, what else, a poem !

Born of a great churning,
sometimes in a pot,
and sometimes,
internally in a
refrigerated mind,
she abhored it,
when she was presented to
greedy folks
in scoops ,
loaded on top of each other,
and she pined and hungered
for a Beautiful Life.

It is in the fitness of
fragrant things
that she should be
at the Ice-Cream Debutante Ball
in a flared rose tinted outfit,
with ice cold whorls
emanating from a
very ordinary cone.

She understands
that though
this is the Beautiful Life,
it is more important
to have a Beautiful Mind,
that learns to rationalise
how momentary life is,
and that it is OK
to melt and cry.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Yum and Powerful

My friend Deepak Amembal, always enjoys his food. More so if it is a dessert designed to make his sugar and calorie-counting  friends drool.

He recently visited a place called  Millenium Harbour in London,  (It says it is a Gym), and  posted this decadent picture of blackberries and blueberries , under a canopy of custard, with a brownie kind of victoriously perched on top.

Those who are permitted by fate to eat this, do. Others, make poems.

  It's the victory of white sugar
and cocoa
over natural fructose

of the black and blue berries.

Some say its the ability
of the berries to stand up to
slathers of custard
victorious in repose.

Scholars of current history,
Presidents, and utterances,
might mention
the rise of the brown
over the black and creamy white.

History and interpretations be damned.
The only winner are the taste buds.
Dig in .

Saturday, August 26, 2017

And the Lord watches ....

My friend Deepak Amembal posts interesting pictures from around the city, and this one was posted during the ongoing Ganesh festival.

A contrast on the streets of Mumbai.

Hordes of youth, in some kind of representative tshirts, jeans and shoes , who sit idly on walls,  having spent an entire morning dancing wildly ,  with contortions  to some disgusting filmy electronic loud music which has nothing to do with the Lord; the group sponsored by some big political person.

And a lady worker, busy lugging her voluminous load around, carrying all of societies dirt and left overs  to some dump, so that the Lord may be welcomed somewhere in a cleaner environment.  Beast of burden, she recycles the plastic and paper waste from trash, by lugging it someplace to sell it.  Her work is her worship of the Lord. And she does her work impervious to the crass celebrations around her.

Both get paid.  That is the strangest thing.

think they serve the Lord,
in Tshirts bearing HIS name ,
jeans and shoes,
whiling away time on walls
when they are
not twisting their bodies
in tune
to some disgusting song;
perhaps they get paid.

And some,
regardless of the Day,
always serve the Lord,
by being dedicated to
their daily work,
transporting the trash
of society to dumps.
The Lord must be made welcome
in a clean place.
And perhaps, she gets paid too.

It is clear who the Lord prefers.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Bhakri Star

If there was a field called Food  Art (and if there is one, I am not aware ), my friend Swapneel Prabhu from the "Angat Pangat : Rediscovering Traditional Maharashtrian Cuisine" Group on Facebook , would probably be on the teaching faculty.

After a successful effort at making Bhakri under his Mom's guidance,  it translated into him designing what he calls a Tapas platter comprising of, in his words,  Jwarichi/Jondhlyachi (Sorghum) Bhakri.
Bajrichi (Pearl Millet) Bhakri, Nachnichi (Finger Millet) Bhakri, Shepu Thecha (A hand pounded pesto-like mix of lightly charred green chillies ,garlic and   some dill for a fragrant burst and finished  with a generous squeeze of lime). This turned out to be the pièce de résistance of the meal.
Then a Metkut Gojju (is there a Marathi name for this Metkut and curd preparation?), Limbaacha Loncha (sweet-sour-spicy lime pickle), Loni (White Butter)  and  Gul (Jaggery).

And finally some white onion. 

Dont know about the Tapas, but this has to be the most  studded  bhakri star to have been sighted in recent times.

How come ? Read on .   First in the language of the Bhakri, and then, in the language of the Queen !

आंबाविरहित आंब्याची डाळ , म्हणे हमस ,
आणि आमच्या सुशीलाची आठवण काढत
सूशी सुशी म्हणत
कशात कशात गुंडाळलेले भात प्रकार ...

आपल्याकडील समृद्ध खाद्यसंस्कृती
आणि हे काय "
असा कोणीतरी म्हटलं
आणि अचानक
भाजलेली भाकरी पापुद्र्याचा 

आ वासून बघतच राहिली....

एक गडद निळ्या, नव्हे,
जवळ जवळ काळ्याच प्लेट वर
ज्वारी, बाजरी आणि नाचणी भाकरी
तुकड्यांनी धरलेला चांदण्यातला फेर ,
मध्यभागी दह्याच्या प्रेमात आकंठ बुडलेले मेतकूट ,
आणि बाजूनी चमकत चमकत
लसणा वर जळणाऱ्या मिरच्यांचा
थोड्या शेपूंना सहन करत ठेचा ,
आपले थंड व्यक्तिमत्व पाझळत भारदस्त लोणी ,
खाराच्या आहारी गेलेले लिंबू
आणि ठामपणे आपला कडकपणा दाखवत गूळ .

भाकर्याना काहीतरी राहून गेलाय असं वाटलं
आणि तेवढ्यात
युद्धावरून विजयी,
पण खर्या योध्याच्या खुणा दाखवत
हाताने फोडलेला सफेद कांदा ,
विश्रांतीला हजर .

'टपस ' वगैरे माहित नाही ,
पण तपास करून सुद्धा
इतके सुंदर चांदणी सापडायची नाही .
 The age old Amba Dal
with sour overtures of kairi
now being bossed over by Hummus,
the beauteous Susheela,
being made fun of
by rice wraps masquerading as Sushi.

"What has our traditional food culture
been reduced to?"
a sudden overheard comment,
and a Bhakri, unbelieving,
sits gaping,
its layers wide open and steaming...

Then the appearance of a
dark black china plate ,
and strips of
jowar, bajra and ragi bhakris
in star formation,
at the metkut in the centre
in raptures over a welcoming dahi;
a chilly burning in rage
at the garlics
paying attention to the dill;
an old style butter
playing "exclusive" in the midst
of the newbies;
a lemon, winking at being
amidst all the flowing spices,
and in direct challenge to the
tough acting butter,
a stodgy piece of jaggery,
old style sweetness.

The bhakri star,
searching for the X-factor,
and suddenly rejoicing
at the arrival
of a white onion,
nursing its wounds,
having been smashed by
a greedy human fist.

They all shine together
in tasty culinary support
of the bhakris.

You wouldn't find search a star
if you searched for it
anywhere in the world.....!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The best quilt in the Universe!!!!!

My friend Peggy Pearl Zambory from Minneapolis, is a prolific published blogger , and recently put up a post on FB , showing a lovely quilt her mother-in-law made and gifted her . (My mother-in-law had gifted us one too, like 42 years ago. ; i guess all nice folks get gifted quilts ! ....)

Somehow the pattern of the quilt, and the  choice of color, , brought to my mind, some issues, that are actually burning issues of the day , in these troubled times. 

It also told me how we should treasure the quilts we have !

The dark grey of winter,
the spring of red flowers,
amidst the green,

the peacocks and birds of summer,
all mixed up
supporting each other firmly,
connected so well by lines,
and forming a protective cover
for silk cotton newborn fibres
mixing with some fun foam.

The quilt is a need
for all seasons
and older Moms realize that;
at a time
when some "elders",
having never experienced
the beauty of unity,
try to cut up the squares
and divide the pieces
on the basis of color.

Friday, July 14, 2017

ग्वाकमोले बन गया पिठलं !

फेसबुकवरील माझा मित्र अरित्र दास  याने नुकतेच एक आवोकाडो  विकत आणून , त्याचा ग्वाकमोले नावाचा पदार्थ बनवायचा यशस्वी प्रयत्न केला . आनंदाच्या भरात फोटो काढला  आणि फेसबुकी टाकला .   गोंधळ एव्हडाच की ह्या सर्व प्रयत्नात फोटोमध्ये हिरवा रंग पिवळा दिसू लागला .

चरित्र दास ने मग "ग्वाकमोले  पिठलं" म्हणून  ह्या पदार्थाचे नामकरण केले .

मला उगीचच ग्वाकामोले साठी वाईट वाटलं .  प्रेसिडेंट म्हणावं आणि ओबामा च्या ऐवजी ट्रम्प ने समोर यावं असं थोडंसं झालं .

वाचा .....

  अवोकाडो परिवारात
तसं सर्वांना खूप "कडक " शिस्तीत
वागावं लागे .

बाहेरच्या जगात पदार्पण कारण्यासाठीसुद्धा
अवोकाडोच्या देठाची परीक्षा;
मऊ किती, फळाच्या देठाशी रंग कसा ,
वगैरे तपासण्या .

असच एक फळ अचानक अरित्राच्या हाती लागले,
आणि अगदी प्रचलित पद्धतीप्रमाणे
एक मोठे बीज काढून
आतला गर हाती आला .

एखाद्या आळणी देशात स्वाभाविकपणे भेट द्यावी
असं ह्या घरात पडायला
तिखट मिरच्यांचे आणि मवाळ टोमॅटोचे आगमन ,
आणि मीठ , साखर, इत्यादींचा दुजोरा .
आपल्या मूळच्या देशातल्या
"ओले ओले !" च्या ऐवजी
"आले आले !" म्हणत ग्वाकमोले बाईंचे पदार्पण.

मग कोणीतरी येऊन फोटो काढणे
फेसबुकवर टाकणे
आणि त्यांना ग्वाकमोले पिठलं संबोधणे ...

"Mi nombre no es pithla"
Mi nombre es Senorita Guacamole! "
अरित्र, तुला मेतकूट म्हटलं तर चालेल का ?

ह्यावरअरित्र ने उत्तर दिलं , "चालेल!" !!!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

पाषाण उवाच ....

आपल्याकडे जुन्या वस्तू टाकून, सोसासोसाने  नवीन उपकरण घेण्याची पद्धत रूढ झाली आहे .  ब्लेंडर, फूड प्रोसेसर वगैरे याचा खूपच वापर आपल्याकडे  मोठ्या शहरातून होतो. जस, "मला पाट्यावर वाटता येत नाही ", तसच, "मला काठीने तारेवर कपडे वाळत टाकता येत नाहीत " असे पदोपदी ऐकण्यात येतं .

अश्या वेळी , मेलबोर्न मधली माझी मैत्रीण सौ. शुभदा गोखले , तिचे जितके कौतुक करावे तितके थोडेच !  एक मोठे जातं , एक छोटं , दोन खलबत्ते, एक पाटावरवंटा , ह्या गोष्टींचा नियमित वापर असतो. सोबत विजेची उपकरणे असतात , तरी पण पाट्यावर वाटलेली चटणी , डाळ , आणि रवीने घुसळलेलं ताक, वेगळंच !

माझ्या माहितीप्रमाणे इंग्लंड मधली माझी मैत्रीण , सौ प्रीती देव यांच्या कडे ही अशीच उपकरणे आहेत . (त्यांच्या कडे कोळश्याची  जुन्या पद्धतीची शेगडी पण आहे )

एका मेलबोरनी सकाळी मागील दारी बसलेल्या ह्या मंडळींसाठी हि कविता ...

सगळे दगड दगड जमले
कि एखाद्या गावचे
सगळे लोक जमल्यासारखं वाटतं .

मागील दारी कट्ट्यावरची फरशी ,
आपल्या सख्यासहेल्यांना घट्ट धरून,
पिढ्या पिढयांचे ओझं पेलवत ,
आणि तरीही काहीही कुरकुर ना करता गप्प ...

एखाद्या द्वाड मुलासारखे दोन्ही खलबत्ते ,
इतके सुदृढ
कि त्यांना बत्त्यांनी ठोकलं ,
तरी खाली पोतं ठेऊन ठोकावे लागतं ,
नाहीतर फारशी तुटते;
आयुष्यभर दणके खात ,
स्वतः मसाले, लसूण चटण्या , दाण्याच्या चटण्या
यांच्याशी चकाट्या पिटत वेळ घालवणे
हे परम ध्येय.

ह्या उलट पाटा .
सौंदर्य वैगैरे चेहर्यावर नसतं ,
आपल्या कर्मात असतं , अश्या ठाम मताचा.
चेहर्यावर जितके व्रण, तितकं काम उत्कृष्ट.
बरोबर वरवंटा.
​एकीकडे बारश्यात सजून पाळण्याभोवती फिरणे,
तर इकडे रोज ,
पाट्यावर आरामात पहुडलेल्या
मिरच्या मीठ, कोथिंबीर, खोबरं प्रभूतींना
ओंजारून गोंजारून
निवडणुकीत हरवल्यासारखे चिरडणे.
कधीतरी डाळी आणि कैर्या लोकं
पण अनुभव घायला येतात.

दळून पूड कशी करावी ,
ह्याचा आदर्श म्हणजे जातं .
दोन गोलाकार दगडांमध्ये थोडे थोडे धान्य टाकून,
मैत्रिणीबरोबर दांडा धरून ,
फिरवलेला वरचा दगड ,
वेळीप्रसंगी दगडाच्या डोळ्यातही ऐकून पाणी येईल
आणि ते पुसायला फिरणे थांबेल,
अश्या गायलेल्या सुंदर ओव्या,
आणि ऐकत ऐकत एका मऊ जुन्या साडीवर
खाली कौतुकाने पडणारे पीठ .

​एका सुंदर सकाळी ,
नरकचतुर्दशीच्या दिवशी लौकर अंघोळी करून ​
जणू सकाळ्ळच्या उन्हात जणू
बसलेली ही सर्व मंडळी.

उलट्या ऋतूंच्या देशात असली म्हणून काय झालं?
एकत्र जमली कि तोच दसरा आणि तीच दिवाळी ....

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Cabbage Life

One of my friends on a certain Facebook Group dedicated to Traditional Maharashtrian Cuisine posted a query pertaining to various ways people cooked cabbage.   There was a huge response.

It just occurred to me that if I was a cabbage, I would have been totally overcome.

It also occurred to me that as a cabbage , I would have something to say.

 Like everyone else , on FB .

I first said it in Marathi, and then in English.   Read.....

जन्मानी ब्रासिका ओलेराचिया,
पण लाडाने कोबी हे नाव ;
चार चौघान सारखे बालपण ,
आपले एक एक हिरवे कौशल्य उलगडत
मिरच्या कढीपत्ते आणि मोहरी मंडळींबरोबर
हसत खेळत , त्यांचे तडतडण ऐकत
घालवलेला वेळ.

आणि मग किशोर वयात
बदललेली दृष्टी ;
पाणी पियुन तर्रर्र झालेल्या डाळी ,
रंगेल टोमॅटो ,
दिसायला लहान पण तिखट वृत्तीचे आले ;
"फेर अँड लव्हली असोत आम्ही " असे म्हणत
जणू किसून धावत येऊन पडणारे खोबरं ,
"अहो थांबा की!" म्हणत धापा टाकत येणारी कोथिम्बीर ,
आणि कधी कधी तर
सर्वत्र आपला वावर कसा असतो हे दाखवत
ठामपणे आत पडणारे बेसन .

आज काळ परदेशी मेकअप आल्यापासून
कोबी स्वतःला पुनश्च ब्रासिका ओलेराचिया समजून
मॅगी मसाला ए मॅजिक लावायला शिकलीये .

पण खरं विचारलात तर
तिचा आवडता प्रकार म्हणजे
चिरून, मीठ साखर दाण्याचे कूट
कोथिंबीर मिरची घालून
लिंबू पिळून ,
वरून कढीपता हिंगाची फोडणी घालणे
आणि सटात आरामात चिंब भिजून राहणे .
आणि शंकर महादेवन सांग गुणगुणणे :
"या रिमझिम झिलमिल लिंबू धारा तनमन फुलवून 

सहवास तुझा मधुमास हिंगाचा गंध सुखाचा हाती
हा धुंद फॅन चा वारा, हा कोवळा शहारा
उजळून रंग आले, स्वच्छंद प्रीतीचे
चिंब भिजलेले, रूप सजलेले
बरसुनी आले रंग प्रीतीचे... "
Born Brassica Oleracea,
but called Cabbage;
a childhood like all others
in India,
opening up each layer
of her being,
as she enjoyed fooling around with
chillies, kadhipatta
and angry mustard seeds.

And then a teenage
that changed everything;
Some dals ,
redolent and reeling with
the imbibed water,
casanova tomatoes,
spicy and crushing gingers,
and the Fair and Lovely grated coconut
rushing it,
followed by a
breathless set of coriander leaves.
And always,
some besan,
trying to add itself out of sheer habit .

These days, Brassica Oleracea,
has taken to adorning herself
with foreign makeup
like Maggi Masala-e-Magic.

But if you really want to know
what she loves,
it is to get together with
salt, sugar, chillies,
crushed roasted groundnuts,
coriander and lemon juice,
rejoicing under the onslaught
of a terrific hing kadhipatta tadka,
and enjoy the wet season
in a bowl,
humming Shankar Mahadevan's Song,
slightly modified :
"या रिमझिम झिलमिल लिंबू धारा तनमन फुलवून जाती
सहवास तुझा मधुमास हिंगाचा गंध सुखाचा हाती
हा धुंद फॅन चा वारा, हा कोवळा शहारा
उजळून रंग आले, स्वच्छंद प्रीतीचे
चिंब भिजलेले, रूप सजलेले
बरसुनी आले रंग प्रीतीचे... "

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Jilebi Philosophy

My friend , Prachee Gokhale  from New Zealand, recently decided to make Jilebis. This involves passing some fermented viscous dough through a small aperture (like that of a squeeze bottle) , and have it falling in artistic spirals , into hot oil; the fried designs are then immersed in sugar syrup and they emerge as jilebis, usually greatly loved by everyone.

Sometimes, the designs are different, not in perfect circle spirals, but in random shapes. There is no difference in taste. At all.  But entire generations grow up, thinking that circular spirals is the only perfect way of making jilebis.  And sometimes , this kind of thinking pervades life.

Think again.  I did and came up with something these  jilebis teach us.  (A little bit of deeper thinking, had me recalling  spiral structures and DNA.  Never mind. I am sure Watson and Crick did not have jilebis in mind. )

Read on to understand why......

Thoughts fer̥menting
with a bit, nay, a lot of help
from those with a

sour mentality,
and a sudden outpouring
into hot oil
through a small aperture.

the design is mixed up,
unique, misshapen, broken
and sometimes ,
a thing of beauty,
all wrapped up in its own curves.

The sugar syrup, like life,
doesn't differentiate.

It makes them all equally sweet .

It clearly, knows,
we humans do not.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Caramelized Lives....

My friend Deepak Amembal has an amazing wanderlust, which he shares with his motorcycle and his car. Currently driving through Goa, he has been posting wonderful scenic photos, and recently posted one  of a caramel custard,  which he probably devoured minutes after clicking it.

Carmelization of sugar has fascinated me. When many experiments in cooking have ended in an unavoidable caramelization of sugar where none was expected,  it is nice to look at a dish where sugar was deliberately caramelized.

Naturally , I saw a political message in all this. There are no free desserts in life.....

There is egg white
and flour white
and sugar white.

But the attraction here
is the golden brown caramel,
a result of sugar
throwing caution
to the winds,
and burning up a brown storm,
before all the whites
pour in.

A piece, slightly shaky,
as if on tenterhooks
as someone spoons a piece.

Unlike in the biped world,
peace reigns in a multi color
caramel custard world,
where the custard simply accepts,
that she would be nowhere
without the caramel .

Something Trump needs to know
as he digs into
his own caramel custard
in Florida.