I am just back from a whirlwind tour of Calcutta ... or Kolkata, if you insist.
This trip was not sudden. I was desperate to get away from everything and go on a break for a long time now but B was too caught up with work.
I seriously browsed the web, looking up places, even hotels, that would give me the much needed respite I was looking for.
I virtually toured Agra, Delhi, Rajasthan (or whatever places are left of it for us to explore), Kerala and even Kanyakumari.
Looked up flights. Planned for days.
But when it came to sitting down with B and draw a final blueprint, everything fell away.
And I was back to where I was .... looking forlonly at the open pages on my laptop while going about with my chores.
Until one fine January day ... nay, evening I guess, or maybe it was at lunchtime , that B asked "When is the book fair being held this year?"
My heart skipped a beat.
And so that is how our plan for the whole trip was made. Bit by important bits came together, days and evenings planned. Shopping lists drawn up. Writers' and books' names were listed.
Restaurants searched for. Street food corners zeroed in on.
Zomato reviews read and re read.
And so on.
My aim, very much like Arjun, was clear . But it was not a bird or even the eye of a fish.
It was the book fair. The Boi mela.
I wanted to spend as much time as I could there .... in leisure.
Soak it up ... the place, the feel, the look and smell of books ... everything.
And roam the streets of old Calcutta. And gorge on street food.
And do nothing else.
And that is what I exactly did.
B, despite being very apprehensive about the street food part, indulged me. Anything to take some of the ghastly time that I had gone through, off my mind.
Even for a few days.
Later, we can always get back to life and its pains.
And what a time I had! Books, books and books everywhere.
A book lover's dream come true ... that is what the Boi mela is.
I was like a child let loose in a candy store. Threw all caution of limited baggage weight in flights and picked up books to my heart's fill.
Since I cannot pick up heavy, hard bound books to read anymore, I picked up the smaller lighter copies when ever available.
I was dizzy with happiness.
I will have my detailed posts up on my travelogue very soon. Do stay tuned.
Before leaving for the trip, I had made this Gobhi paratha as there were fresh cauliflowers in the market in abundance.
For us, winter dinners or breakfasts have to have some kind of paratha, usually the stuffed ones, on the table.
May it be the Mooli ka paratha, parathas made with left over stuff, the Methi ka paratha,
the Aloo parantha , the Bedai or Moong dal paratha, the Egg stuffed paratha,
the Pyaaz ka paratha or this Gobhi ka parantha.
I hope I am not too late in posting this and winter is still providing the freshest of cauliflowers on your side of the world.
If it is the season of the vegetable being used, like cauliflowers and radishes in winter, I use them fresh.
Nothing like the fresh and moist flavours of the Gobhi mixed with the fried paratha and some green chillies in every bite.
During other seasons, like in the monsoons, , I lightly saute them with spices first.
Fresh Coriander leaves
Fresh green chillies
Cumin / Jeera seeds
Carrom / Ajwain seeds
Cooking oil to fry
Whole wheat flour or Atta - for the dough
Water - for the dough
A little salt - for the dough
1 tbsp oil - for the dough
I do not use any other spices and keep the taste simple. You can use coriander powder, some amchur powder and red chilli powder too.
How to :
Knead the atta with the salt + oil + water to make a soft, pliable dough.
Keep it covered and let it rest while you prepare the stuffing.
First, wash and dry the cauliflower florets well. There should be no water in them at all.
Add salt last ... just before you are about to stuff and roll them.
Never before that.
Use some dry flour to make handling it easier.
Stuff it with some of the filling.
Heat a tawa.
Gently put the paratha on it. Let it cook on low heat for around a minute.
Then flip it over.
Brush some oil on both sides and fry it, flipping all the while, till the sides are golden brown in colour.
These paranthas go best with some achar / pickles. Or with dahi / curd too.
And if you are like me, you will douse your plate with some tomato ketchup first.
Tear a steaming hot piece off, blow on the steam, dunk it in the ketchup and tuck it into your mouth.
And sit back and savour the flavours of fresh cauliflower combined with a bite of ajwain here and green chilli there.
Maybe you can have a cup of adrak wali chai or ginger tea on the side too.
Or whatever is left of it.