We have not seen the sun for the past three days or more. Dark clouds had blown in slowly and the sky was soon overcast and stayed that way. The sun could not even peek through.
But boy! was it windy! And cold!
We stayed in denial for the first few days. After all, it won't be cold unless it starts to rain.
But no. Last evening we finally had to admit that it is indeed too cold, when we could not sit in the balcony for more than five minutes.
Shivering, we finally beat a retreat and shut the door and the windows.
And watched the trees going bonkers in the wild, wild wind from indoors.
And this evening, it finally rained.
Back home, Thamma would nod her head and say " Aaj snan purnima; brishti hobei hobe."
Snan purnima ... that full moon day when Lord Jagannath and his family have their ritualistic bath, which is a precursor to their falling ill and staying indoors for a fortnight.
After which they go to visit their aunt. This journey is the famous Ratha yatra.
Our older generation had such days to refer to when predicting changes in the weather.
Their words ring in my ears but I have major difficulty in predicting as correctly as they did.
Must be the change in weather globally. Or the difference in the weather conditions from that of my home state.
Like, there would be instances when a summer evening would feel and smell just like an August evening back home. Or the days just after the rains would feel like early winter.
I used to go ballistic during February and March especially; the weather then would be exactly like those that usher in Durga puja, i.e late September or early October.
And the fact that we get our very favourite Shiuli flower, that blooms only during Durga puja back home, anytime of the year, especially the monsoons, did not make it any easier for me.
It was only the winters that were the closest to what we get in our little hilly town back home.
Crisp air, clear and bluest of blues skies and the all enveloping fog.
I loved to stand on the steps of our pg, throw my head back and breath deeply to take in the evening air redolent with the smoke of wood fire ... taking me back home to winter evenings when the house help would start the wood fire oven for the night's cooking, supervised by Thamma.
My friends used to laugh at me. "She smells the air to see if winter is here."
Pune has changed immeasurably ever since.
The weather has changed. The city has changed. The traffic has changed.
But the evenings have stayed the same.
Especially monsoon and winter evenings.
Beautiful, cold and refreshing.
Which makes me feel like running back home; every evening.
Which is why I still feel at home; here.
Well, if only wishes were horses ....
If I can't go home, I bring home to me.
To my kitchen; my dining table.
And it soothes my homesickness a little.
Like this Mudi ghonto I made a few days back.
Rohu fish head cooked with roasted Moong dal.
Light, fragrant and very soothing in every mouthful, when mixed with plain cooked rice.
It is one of those fish dishes that does not need the heaviness of onion or garlic and is happy with the beautiful, fragrant roasted moong dal blending with the fish head and creating a flavour of its own
I make the other kind of Muri ghonto with rice and that does not have onions or garlic too.
And then, there is my Ma's Cholar Dal er Muri ghonto too.
Yellow Moong dal - 1 cupful
Rohu fish head - 1, marinated with salt+ turmeric and fried
Tej pata / Bay leaf - 2
Dry red chillies - 2, broken
Grated ginger - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Roasted jeera powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Mustard oil - 1 bsp
How to :
In a heavy kadahi or pan, dry roast the dal till reddish brown and aromatic.
Take care not to burn.
Cook in water with salt and turmeric powder till just done.
Do not over cook or make it mushy.
In another kadahi or pan, heat oil.
Add the bay leaf, dry red chillies and grated ginger.
Mix all the powders in a little water and add.
Fry well till oil starts to leave the sides.
Add the fish head and mix well.
Now add the cooked dal and bring to a boil.
Add salt, cover and simmer for around five minutes.
Remove cover, add ghee and the roasted jeera powder.
The dal should be thick in consistency and not runny.
Cover, switch off heat and let it stand for five minutes.
You may add garam masala powder to it too ... I do not.
Signing off with a shot of my lunch plate.