Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Aam Pora Sharbat / Aam Panna

Budhua awoke with a sense of doom. He opened his eyes and looked around. Still lying down, he looked around the small yet neat room that he called his home.
The roof of fresh hay looked very neat, filling the room with a warm cosy smell. Budhua marvelled at his handiwork. The walls are filled with diiferent hooks, on which hung his clothes and other little household things. At one end is a small kitchen that had the chulha, the water pot, some small wood pieces and a few kitchen utensils.

He got up, walked to the door of his house and looked out. Every morning he did this small ritual ... stood at his doorway and looked with pride and satisfaction at the decent patch of land that he had worked so hard to make his own. Small patches of different vegetables looked back at him happily ... the morning dew still fresh on them. Beyond them was a small water body that he had dug himself, that stored and held rain water. Yes, he has done a good job.

Budhua looked around once more before walking down to the small pond for his bath. On returning he offered some flowers to the banyan tree beside his hut and went to sit at the door.
The morning was warm. The birds that wake him early in the morning are all done with their jobs and slowly dissappearing. They won't come out until the evening cool sets in.

Waiting, Budhua felt restless. He was waiting for Moina.
The very thought of Moina made his heart miss a beat, and then beat rather fast to make up.
The most beautiful girl in the village, Moina had not shown any interest in Budhua just as the rest of the girls of the village did not. Living on the outskirts of the village all by himself, he had earned the reputation of a loner. And a good for nothing.
He did not know to deal with people well. Neither was he interested in them. So people let him be. They were not interested in knowing where he lived and what did he did for a living. And as his hut was after a small patch of jungle, nobody ventured there ... thus he lived in peace.

But his peace was disturbed last summer. Just like the rest of the village, he too had gone to have his bath in the river as his pond had dried up. A bunch of giggling girls crossed his path. Budhua knew he was handsome. With a strapping body and shiny black skin and hair, he stood tall over most village lads. Many parents would have wanted to give their daughter to him had they not ignored him as a fool.

But Budhua was no fool. He knew his quiet was his key to a peaceful life. Yet when he saw Moina among that group of girls near the river, he forgot everything. Time stood still for him. All he could remember was the huge dark eyes and the red Palash (Flame of the forest) flowers in her hair. Unlike the other girls, she had not laughed at him. Just looked at him with those huge eyes and then cast them down as she walked away.

It took him full three new moons to be able to talk to her. And to make her talk to him. And then one day he took her to show his hut and land.
"O ma! Eeta tur ghor?!" ( Is this really your house? )
"Haw, tur bhalo laigse?" ( Yes, did you like it?)
"Khuuub". ( Very much. )

One day, when they met at their usual riverside place, Budhua decided that it was time. While the sun painted the sky a fiery red on setting, he asked her " Tui amar shathe ghor baandhbi Moina? " ( Will you set up a home with me Moina? )
"Haw ... kintu amar baap?" ( Yes, but my father? )
"Ami taar shathe kotha koibo!" ( I will talk to him! )
"Na na, age ami koibo, tarpor tui". ( No, I'll speak to him first ).

Today Moina will come to tell him her father's verdict.

While waiting, he thought he will make something for her. No matter what the result is ... she was the one who would have to face the wrath of her father first. She deserved something good.

Budhua got up and went to the mango tree behind his hut. Selecting some good sized stones, he threw them at a couple of mangoes. A good marksman, he got them down in no time.
Going inside, he saw the embers of last night's fire had not yet died. He had forgotten to clean out the chulha in his worries. So threw in the mangoes to roast them a little. He would make Aam Pora Sharbat for Moina.

When the mangoes were cooked, he brought them out, skinned and mashed them well and strained the pulp with some water.
He then added a little salt, gur ( jaggery ) and some more water to it. He had some cumin seeds in a little bottle. Taking a little out, he crushed them on a flat stone and added it to the drink. And then set the bowl to cool on some wet sand kept at the corner.

There ... Moina will have a cool drink after her long walk in the sun.

Budhua again sat near the doorstep and kept gazing at the pond beyond his small green patch. And wondered if he will see Moina ever again. And worried. The sense of doom surrounded him again.
It was not uncommon for a man to like a girl and to want to spend the rest of his life with her.
What troubled him was he had chosen the most beautiful girl in the village.

The Morol's daughter.
Morol, the village head ... the most powerful man in the village.

For the first time in his life, Budhua wondered if he was a fool.

Aam Pora Sharbat ( Roasted Raw Mango Sharbat )

Need : ( I am not giving any measurements here as the taste will vary depending upon how sour , sweet or salty someone likes this sharbat. Ideally it has an equal balance of sweet and salty taste. And I usually make it in the MW and use sugar. )

Raw mangoes
Roasted and crushed Jeera / Cumin Seeds
Drinking water

How to :

Wrap the mangoes in aluminium foil and roast them in an oven.

Alternatively you can pressure cook or pan boil them in a little water.

Or run them in the Microwave in 60% for 10 mins.

Remove and cool. Then skin and mash them into a fine pulp. You can also run a blender.

Remove into a big sized bowl and add sugar, salt to taste. Add enough water and chill.

Just before serving sprinkle some roasted jeera powder in a glassful.

Serve chilled.

Why does it have be a hot cuppa always? Go ahead and have a cool cuppa this summer! :-)

This is, for the very first time, my try at writing pure fiction ... spurred by the wonderful event Of Chalks and Chopsticks by Aquadaze co hosted by Sandeepa and Sra.

Off goes my story to Sandeepa who is hosting it this month.

Updated : Sending this to Srivalli's Thanda Mela too.

In the fast flying days, I forgot my blog's 2nd happy baarday. :-(
And did not even complete 200 posts. Not done. No excuses.

See ya'll around folks! TC !

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A little of this and a little of that ...

Warning : Long post ... no food. :-)

What happens when you take a break from the routine? You make use of the time as well as you can knowing it won't last for long.
But what happened when I took a break from blogging? Well ... I knew it will last for as long as I would want to. So no extra enthusiasm to arrange dishes, to click, to write a post and then .... post.

It is not that I am not cooking at all ... I just don't feel like going through the whole process of making a post.
But visiting other blogs is giving me a push. Yes, I have been visiting all your blogs on and off ... but have not been leaving comments very diligently ... and I do hope I'll be excused for that.

Today I thought of compiling a lot of snaps that I have clicked over a span of time.

These little things that I click or make are usually meant for my other blog. But since it has a very limited number of visitors, am sharing these here.
There are lots more .... will make a few other posts again soon.

This Crane was clicked on our way to Shirdi ... a farmer was sowing his field and a lot of these were following him for seeds. It was blazing hot in the sun ... I ran out, clicked and ran back into the car.

This little Kingfisher used to come over to have a leisurely dip in the pool everyday. Afterwards, it will sit and dry itself ... shaking all over ... this way and that. Now, with the onset of summer, the pool is cleaned up and is now filled with kids of all sizes. All this little fellow can do now is sit on the wire above the pool and look wistfully.

This Bulbul sits here every morning and sings. I caught it just as it opened its little beak to sing out. Every morning ... very early in the day ... this place belongs to this singer. Later it will be taken up by the kingfisher, then the sparrows and then the crows.

I had a very funny time trying to click this graceful lady ( I really do not know if it is a male or a female ... it just looks so delicate I think it has to be a lady ). I was on supermacro and needed to be real close to her. The more I moved in on her, the more she ... very gently ... moved away. There was also a very strong breeze .... and at one point she very delicately brought out a 'finger' to move away the lens from her face. Unfortunately could not click that ... was too busy jumping away. :D

Clicked ... like all other snaps here except that of the crane ... from my balcony.

My bird bath is not used only by the birds for water. This wasp has been visiting this place regularly ... it was not before the fourth day at a stretch that I realised that it is coming here for water. And this is how it drinks. Everytime.

Mr. Busybody had no idea he was being watched. Squirrels are abundant here ... and noontimes are filled with their shrill barkings.

This Bee Eater had just finished a bath. These birds are a wonder to watch ... they catch live insects from the air .... sit down and beat the insect against their foothold to stun it ... and then gobble them up. Hope to make a recording of them in action one day.

This Kite had come following something and made a rare landing. See how it merges with the dead branches.

The Striated Heron .... again from my balcony.

Tried my hand at gardening. Threw some mustard seeds ... see the seeds along with the saplings?

Got some wonderfully sunny flowers within a fortnight.

I was more interested in the leaves ... wanted to have Sarson ka Saag. Nothing doing. The plant straightaway went on to bear fruit.

Needless to say ... I did not have the heart to chop off a single leaf. :-)

I had just stepped out into the balcony to hang some clothes to dry. Froze when I saw this handsome guy sitting there. Very sombre, very quiet. There was no restlessness in him.

He was not bothered by my presence ... kept on contemplating whatever was on his mind. I hung the clothes with very little movement and went inside to get the camera. I could not believe my luck ... he was still stting there.

Clicked a few snaps and left him alone. Checked out after a good 20 mins ... he was still there.

And oh, while on our feathered friends ... an update. After Quasimodo, another Ma and Pa Pigeon had a baby ... but this time it was on our balcony ledge. :-)
For those who came in late, you will find Quasimodo here and here.

That will be all for now folks.

We are been having a difficult time staying in this flat ... the society committee is hell bent on doing something illegal on our roof ... and we are fighting a losing battle.
We are quiet people and no match for hoodlums. So in case we need to move out, these will be our memories of this flat ... that looks out into a small wood ... where we get to see so many wonderful wildlife.

I thank you all who have cared to keep in touch and have enquired after my health. Hopefully I will be back with some food posts soon.

Take care all ! :-)