We have been missing the real winter for the past couple of years in Pune. But this year it has turned real cold and the fresh, crisp air outside has that perfect smell of winter ... dry leaves, smoke from a faraway bonfire mixed with the beautiful, sweet smell of the Eucalyptus leaves that waft around in the light breeze.
I step out on to the balcony every evening to catch the gorgeous sunsets. And to watch the stars come out. These days the sky is so clear that they sparkle a couple of shades brighter. And the new moon comes up looking all shiny and clean.
Needless to say, I love winters.
I can knit all I want to, wear the ones that I have knitted earlier, enjoy my hot cuppas of sometimes tea or coffee and soups at other times.
I can sit in the sun for longer times ... my bay windows are now awash with sunlight ever since the sun has shifted south.
I have recently twisted my knee ... yes, how can the year go by without my falling ill properly at least once .... and am confined to rest right now.
I do try to hobble around and rustle up quick meals but my leg turns too painful and I go back to my corner in the sofa. Near the window, in the sun.
And do what I do best ... knit.
Which I do a lot these days.
Of days gone by, of the winters of my childhood.
Losing the elders of the family one by one, memories are the only things that stay with me these days.
So I think of the winters of my childhood, the breakfasts of crisp, toasted bread and poached(fried) eggs ... sitting out in the sun.
Lunches of steaming hot stews. Teatimes with cakes at times and traditional snacks at other.
And it was from one of those memories that I made this traditional, simple stir fry that spells winter as well as memories for me in many ways.
This used to be a favourite evening snack for us at home.
Ma would make this with the fresh green peas, soft and oh so sweet, that the season brings, and that have been freshly shelled.
Iin the afternoon, after lunch, Ma and the other kakimas would sit out in the soft winter sun in the uthon / courtyard ... some drying their long hair, some knitting .
All around, there would be achars/ pickles sunning as well as batches of boris here and there.
The breeze from the pond, which was so welcomed in the summer, would make them shiver and draw their shawls around them a little more.
Thamma would be there too, soaking in the sun, eyes closed and narrating small incidents ... mostly form the past.
The house helps would join in too, enjoying the leisurely time.
They would bring along with them small pending jobs .... one of which was the shelling of peas.
We children would drift in and out, picking up handfuls of freshly shelled sweet peas and munching on them.
egg scrambles / anda bhurji, stir fries, upma, uttapams, salads and muri / puffed rice, I love this stir fry just as much.
In the evenings, when at a loss as to what to make to accompany the evening tea, Ma would rustle this up while Jethima would prepare the muri.
She would add a dash of mustard oil and some chanacchur to the muri. ( It will not be the regular moshla muri ). And serve them in individual bowls.
At times, the muri would be tempered with some kalo jeere / nigella seeds and dry red chillies too ... but only if it has turned soft. This tossing on heat crisps the muri up as well as add some flavour too.
Meanwhile Ma would temper some heated mustard oil with kalo jeere / nigella seeds and whole dry chillies. Then she would add some chopped onions and stir fry them till just soft. No browning.
And then tip in a bowlful of shelled green peas and a pinch of salt.
The peas will release water and everything will turn soft.
Just a few tosses ( you may cover and cook it for a while too ... but not for too long ) and it is done.
They would top the muri and the bowls would be handed out to everyone ... along with some thick, milky ada cha / ginger tea.
I can still see everyone sitting around the dining table, some sitting on the low window sill when there are no empty chairs left, some even on long, low bench that stood near the wall at the far end of the dining room .... munching, sipping, talking, laughing, discussing dinner's menu.
The dining room would no longer be cold .... there was so much love and warmth all around.
The peas would be so soft they would just melt in the mouth. And the crisp muri was the perfect foil, with its crunch.
I had shared it on my Instagram and my facebook page .... but then memories overwhelmed me and I decided to make a post too.
And for posterity.
Hope you have a wonderful winter.
Have lots of hot food and make loads of memories.