Thursday, 17 November 2011

Roti ka Poha / Snack made from leftover rotis

 I have always wondered what is it with people when comes to waiting in queues. 
Especially long ones. 
Everybody is restless, fidgety.
Keep bending to their side and try to look ahead.
 Look here and there.
As if the rest of the world has stopped moving just because that one person has to stand and wait.

And the one behind you, given the chance, will climb on your shoulder and crawl down to stand in front of you.
You can hear his/her mumblings of impatience.
And get poked with whatever things s/he is holding.
As if it is your fault the line is not moving ahead.
If it is a counter for tickets or bill payment, the person managing it is declared as the most inefficient worker. 

If it is a traffic line, it is even bad.
If it is a narrow two way lane, it is worse.
People will honk horns as if they had just discovered their vehicle had one.
And will surely overtake those already waiting in line, giving them a look that says "what duffers!"
In the process blocking the whole road.
Nobody can come from the front and nobody from this side can move.
Deed done, despite getting stuck themselves,
will still look smugly around. 

It is worse at the airports.
I recently made a trip home and was waiting to board.
People had gathered and filled up every possible seat at the waiting area with themselves, their kids, their hand luggage ...
which interestingly varied from a book
to several small bundles of things
to two plastic mugs and a kadahi,
their kids' luggage ... if a small rucksack and a water bottle can be called that.
Well ... they have the tickets ... so they'll use the seats.

And wait.
That waiting keeps building their restlessness.
Nothing helps ... not talking on phones, reading papers,
getting up importantly to get a coffee and then deciding against it
and turning around to grab back their chair again ...
nothing helps.

When finally the boarding gate is readied to let you through,
you see the rush!
Everybody scrambles to get up, collect their belongings, grab the kids, jump over people
 and run to stand in the line.
I just sit back and watch ... fascinated.
The line forms.
A very long line.
With the last person standing far, far away from the actual gate.
And they keep jostling
so that the they can move a wee little more ahead.
I still sit and watch.
And get looks of pity.
They talk to themselves or wonder ... poor girl, travelling alone.
Doesn't know boarding has started.

The line moves painfully slow.
The people finally get to board the bus in batches.
Those who get to have a look of triumph on their faces.
Those who cannot and have to wait for the next bus to move forward, have a look of defeat.
And they keep glancing at me.
The line has grown shorter ... what is she doing?
She'll miss the flight!

When there are exactly three people left to move through, I get up.
Board the last bus with the final group.
Just when I enter the plane, I glance around.
And see the disapproving looks and frowns.
After all, they'd been in the queue first!
And had to wait!
And hear a stage whisper ... "Itna late karenge toh desh kya hoga?"

This is a wonderful way of using up leftover rotis from last night's dinner.
I wanted to  call this the upma but decided against it as upma has water added to it
while this is a very
dryish dish.
You can add some water to this if you want it very soft ...
but that too will be just a sprinkle.
I love this dry.
So dry that some pieces of the crushed roti will be crispy.
But it still won't be too dry as the onions and tomatoes add some softness to it.
And if you are like me ... have to have some egg  for breakfast,
you can just scramble up some and mix it in.


 Left over rotis
Onions - chopped
Tomatoes - chopped
Green chillies - chopped
Curry leaves
Mustard seeds - for tempering
Cooking oil
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste 
Tumeric powder - a pinch

How to 
Lightly crumble the rotis, rubbing them between your palms.
The pieces should be coarse and not too fine.

Heat some cooking oil.
Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to start spluttering.
Add the onions and the chilles and stir fry for a while.
Add the curry leaves.
Add the tomatoes and fry well till cooked.
Next add the roti and mix well.
Add the tumeric powder, salt and sugar.
Stir fry for a while and mix well.
If you want it soft and not crispy, sprinkle some water and cover it for a while. 

Serve hot with a steaming cup of tea.
Enjoy !!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Kucho Nimki / Flour Fritters

This post will be morbid ...  I need emotional catharsis.
If you don't want to brood, stay away.

Things have been happening in my life.
A lot more and a lot quickly than I'd ever wanted.
After months of suffering ill health and a trauma, I thought a lot of rest will heal me ... 
both physically and emotionally.
But no, nyet, nada.
The days I came back from home after the surgeries to this city, I saw my cousin sister ill.
Very ill.
In the ICU.
The whole family and friends came down.
I was surrounded with people ... way too many people.
And in that hustle and bustle I saw a quivering life slowly ebb away.
Very quietly.

N didi is ... was ... my second cousin.
And has been ... I still can't talk of her in the past tense ... in this city almost the same many years
that I've been.
I came as a student.
She came with her husband's job.
And her home was my haven from college and hostel.
Almost every weekend was spent at her place.
I want to eat non veg, I want my clothes washed and ironed, I just want to be with family ... 
I am at N didi's.
Even my friends loved to be at her place ... getting pampered with wonderful food and love. 

 She had never let it be known that she has been ill.
A diabetic, she has always been careless with her health.
And nobody around her bothered to be strict with her ... except for a casual criticism.
N didi would always laugh that away.
The last 2 years her health started to decline rapidly.
And I got to witness the kind of suffering the human body has to go through if not taken care of properly.
And after 2 excruciating months in the ICU, she passed away.
Quietly, painfully.
Leaving behind a void in her home, that is being futilely tried to be filled with her laughing photographs.

 N didi loved food. Loved to eat. And to cook and feed.
Her last lines to me, before they shut her up with the ventilator pipe down her throat, were ... 
"Amar jonne ektu patla patla luchi ar aloor torkari anbi?"
("Will you get some soft luchi and aloo ki sabzi for me?")
Inspite of my numerous requests, the docs did not allow.
And I still have not been able to eat luchi till date.

I do not know why I wanted to write about N didi here.
It is not only about emotional purging.
I had learnt a lot of the ways of cooking from her.
She never taught me how to cook, or ever discuss a recipe with me.
But she cooked beautifully.
And always answered my questions with patience.
That is ... if I asked, she taught me. Never ever tried to force me into the kitchen.

After I got married, N didi was just the person to call up when stuck in the kitchen.
She never gave me recipes, but always guided me through disasters.
When a phoron burnt, when the cooker refused to behave, when there was too much salt in a dish ....
also when I couldn't handle a maid ...
it was she who rescued me with advice.

It was she who taught me to make Rosogollas.
And yet, except a fleeting mention here, I do not think I've ever thanked her.
And she never expected me to.

This Durga Puja was celebrated by the family with a heavy heart. The only consolation we fell back on was 
N didi is pain free at last.

After coming back from my trip home, I tried to keep myself busy.
I tried to do house work, cook, laugh, go on trips, made FB my second home ...
... anything to get those painful days out of my mind.
And I tried to keep up with tradition.

Made some sweets and these salty Kucho Nimkis for Bijoya.


Maida / Refined flour - 1 big sized cup
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Kalonji - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - to knead
Cooking oil - to deep fry
I did not use any baking powder or soda ... you can if you want to.

How to

Knead everything into a firm dough. Do not make it too soft.
Roll out thick rotis and cut them diagonally both ways to get the diamond shaped pieces.
Heat the cooking oil in a cast iron or heavy bottomed kadahi.
Deep fry the nimkis in batches.
Remove on a kitchen towel or paper napkins to remove excess oil.
Cool and store in air tight containers.

Try to remove them just as they are turning just golden brown ... if you wait for too long, they'll turn dark.

Serve with a hot cup of tea.
Or traditionally ... with sweets and ghugni for Bijoya.