My feet are itching to set off on the road again. My heart is restless and is longing for new visions.
Not goal visions; visual visions.
Like looking out of the window and seeing the countryside fly by. It can be a window of a train or the car ... I don't care much for flights because there is no countryside to look out at, but right now a flight will do very well too.
I just need to get out.
Last year was a whirlwind .... full of travels.
Even before we had emptied our suitcases, we were off again.
So much so that I had no time to update my travel blog, much as I wanted to.
January had started with Hampi and Bangalore, which we did by road and had way too much fun, then Rajasthan just a day after we reached back, which was by train, in
March we were in Mahabaleshwar, by road, Jaipur again in May, by flight,
July in Lonavla and September and October in the US of A, which included Miami, Florida and Disneyland, Orlando too.
I do have a very sincere intention of updating Country Roads with these trips, but not before I wade through the hundreds of photographs and select a few.
The weather, in Pune right now, is fabulous and it would be criminal if not soaked in.
A thought we are taking very seriously.
So we are going out, visiting exhibitions, sales, music programmes and sometimes eating out too.
We have drastically cut down on our eating out ... but do visit our old favourites once in a while.
Where we know the food ... read quality ... is good and the service polite and warm.
Umpteen number of eateries have sprung up in Pune in the past few years but quality is one thing that helps us decide which to try and which not to.
Most places will start of well and then quickly deteriorate in quality .... so we strike it off after two or three visits.
Others will start off weak, but gain momentum and realise the importance of the quality of food.
Besides, both of us love home cooked food and very very simple food. If you read my recipes or have tried them out, you will know just how light my cooking is.
And both of us love our food that way.
Give B a dal and rotis and he is the happiest person in the world.
Give me a dal with rice and I am happy.
Give me a light bhaja along with it and I am the happiest girl around.
So when I turned a year older a few days back, B wanted to go out for lunch.
And had been trying select a good place for lunch or dinner.
I, on the other hand, was not being helpful.
Because I did not want to eat out.
A plate of dal, bhaat and begun bhaja was calling out to me in my mind.
I was missing home, my family and the numerous phone calls did not help.
So, when it was late noon, I told B to give up searching.
And set off into the kitchen to cook. That is where I find solace.
So cooked a full meal of dal, roti and sabzi for B and a Chicken curry and Mishti bhaat / Polau for myself.
Indulged myself with a few aloo bhaja too.
There was Tomato Khejurer chaatni in the fridge.
And all these made a happy plateful( here is a shot) for me.
Or Chenna jalebis. Or Chenna jilapi ( in Odia ).
Or sweets made from fresh cottage cheese.
Call them by any name you want to.
I have been wanting to try my hand at making these for a while now.
And it was such a soul satisfying job .... by the time I finished and stepped out of the kitchen, I was smiling.
These light, soft, delicate, syrup soaked roundels of sweetness are pretty easy to make.
All you need to do is handle them with care.
Milk - 1 litre
Juice of lemon - 2 tbsp (or more if you need )
Fine semolina / sooji - 1 tbsp
Maida / APF - 1 tbsp ( a little more if you feel the jilipis break when forming )
Sugar - 1 coffee cupful
Water - 3 coffee cupfuls
Green cardamom - 3, crushed and powdered
Cooking oil - 5 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsp
How to :
Add the lemon juice to curdle and make the chana / chenna / cottage cheese.
Strain well. Keep it in the strainer or hang it in a muslin cloth to drain the water well.
But don't make it too dry. It should have some water left in it.
Heat the water and sugar in a heavy pan till sugar dissolves and the water comes to a boil.
After an hour, knead the chana with the semolina and maida till very soft and light.
Add the powdered cardamom and mix well.
Take small balls out of the kneaded chana and roll on a flat plate to make a thick, longish shape.
You can use a little ghee in your hands and on the plate so that the balls do not stick.
Gently twist the long shape into a circle.
Heat the oil + ghee in a heavy, flat bottomed pan.
When hot, gently let in the chana circles into it.
Fry one side till brown and then gently turn it over.
Remove carefully and let into the sugar syrup.
Soak well for a good two or three hours before serving.