And the time I get to spend with myself.
Earlier, when I was young, I would get up very early and sit by the window with whatever book I would be reading then.
While staying up late into the night and reading has always been my favourite, rising early and getting to read in the quiet has a different charm of its own.
Especially during the summers.
My window overlooked our garden that always used to stay abundant with all kinds of flowers ... thanks to Ma. The biggest patch was of the roses.
Surrounded by the lawn, there were two big sized rounds that held the Dahlias.
During winters, these two circles held the largest Dahlias I've seen yet.
Beyond them was a patch that held different kinds of Chrysanthemums.
The lawn was bordered with two layers .... one of the yellow and white button chrysanthemums, and a reddish coloured shrub whose leaves changed colour every season ,,, that is four times in a year.
At the turn of a season they would magically turn into red, yellow, green and white .... all through the year.
They fascinated me.
Beyond these was the vegetable garden.
Winters would see fresh shiny leaves of the spinach and the coriander, glistening in the soft early morning sun.
There were carrots and beet shrubs too.
As there were green peas creepers.
On there right stood regally a lemon tree, providing us with a continious supply of lemons throughout the year.
And beyond all this, just in front of the garage, on a side, stood a grapefruit tree.
And that was one tree that I loved dearly.
Because it made my summer mornings so so special.
I would sit beside the window on early summer mornings, sometimes reading and sometimes looking out at the garden, watching the sun rays slowly lighten it up from the east ... the book lying half open in my hands.
I only half hear the birds and other small sounds coming in once in a while.
For I am too caught up with the fragrance in the air.
The fragrance of the flowering grapefruit tree.
Citrusy, light, heady ... all at the same time. Intoxicating.
The flowers of the grapefruit tree are beautiful .... white and yellow or cream.
But I was more enchanted with the smell.
I would sometimes walk down the lawn and stand underneath it.
Combining with the freshness of the morning grass, the lingering dew and the slowly turning warm sunlight, this is one fragrance that made those summer mornings of my childhood precious.
It will always stay with me.
I have never come across another grapefruit tree ever since I left home.
And the one back at home exists no longer.
And I still love quiet mornings.
But I will never forget those summer mornings, quiet and heady with the fragrance of the flowers of the grapefruit tree, wafting in the fresh morning air and creating memories in a young mind.
From talking of summer mornings, let us turn to breakfast for winter mornings.
I had made this lightly spiced Potato and Cauliflower dryish dish and some Parathas for a winter morning.
Bringing some old photographs to the light of the day again.
Since it was winter, I had made this slightly spicy with some onion+garlic masala.
Paired with the atta / whole wheat parathas or fried flat breads, it made for a filling breakfast.
I'm sure this was some weekend breakfast, after which we must have gone off for one of our long drives that we are so fond of.
Must have been ... it is such a long way back I hardly remember now.
For the Aloo Phulkoi'r Dom :
Aloo / Potatoes - 2 medium sized, cut into cubes
Phulkopi / Cauliflower - 1 small, broken into big sized florets
Onion - 1 big, cut into slices
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tomato - 1 big sized, grated
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - ½ tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - ½ tsp
Water - enough to cook
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
Whole garam masala - 2 cloves, 1 small piece cinnamon, 1 green cardamom ( broken ), 2 whole red chillies(broken)
How to :
Add the whole garam masalas.
Add the onion slices and fry on low heat till they start to turn brown.
Add the ginger and the garlic paste.
Stirring all the while, add the haldi powder+red chilli powder.
Add the potatoes + the cauliflower.
If needed, add a little water.
Give a good stir on high heat.
Add salt and water. Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
Add the tomato, sugar and some more water.
Sprinkle the garam masala, cover and simmer for around a minute.
Remove from heat.
This was accompanied with the Tinkona or the triangle parota.
Why triangle? Because there are the square and round parathas too.
Hence the mention.
For the Paratha : ( I'll update this with some photographs sometime later )
Whole wheat flour / Atta - 1 big sized cup
Warm water - to knead
Salt - 1 tsp
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp, and some more for frying
Dry flour - to roll the parathas
How to :
Mix everything, except the water, well.
Now slowly add the water and knead well to make a soft yet firm dough.
Keep covered for around 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into medium sized balls.
Take a ball of the dough and roll it between your palms to make it smooth.
Dust the rolling place with some flour.
Now roll out a circle from the dough.
Apply oil on one side of the circle and fold it in half.
Apply some more oil on one side of the half and fold it to get a triangle.
Now dust it with some more flour and roll it to a paratha of medium thickness.
Heat a tawa or flat pan.
Put in the paratha and let one side cook. When it turns slightly dryish, flip it and cook for some more time.
Now raise the heat and apply oil to one side and cook till it turns brown. Flip and apply oil and cook the other side too.
Keep on flipping twice or thrice till it turns a lovely brown all over.
Remove from the tawa.
Reduce heat before adding in another one.
Or keep covered in a tightly covered box to keep it hot and soft.
This hearty breakfast needed something sweet on the side ... as all Bengali breakfasts are wont to.
I just had some jam and so made do with it.
Enjoy all !!