The weather outside is absolutely delightful.
The mornings are very cold ... but not the cold of like four degrees or such. They are a beautiful, lightly foggy nine degrees. The air is so clean and sharp that if you step out and take a deep breathe, you will feel you have inhaled something sharp yet very refreshing.
It takes all of my mental strength to step out from the comforting warmth of the room heater. And yet, love doing it every single day. I hesitantly touch the iron grill door ... it is sharp cold ... and push it open.
And step out.
The bright sunlight from the east has already overtaken the building and has reached the trees ... my balcony is on the west. The parrots are already flying around with great energy .... they have been up from day break and hence 7 o'clock is pretty late for them .... screeching their voices out. Their long tails draw green streaks all over the tree tops and the skyline.
I glance to check if the bird bath is full. It isn't.
As usual there is a splatter of water all over ... the plants below it are wet. The birds have had their bath and won't be coming over for a drink till late afternoon.
I sit in my blue cane swing and watch the world below go by. The green grocer's van has just come in ... yet there are a few ladies already waiting. The old man at the tea shop shanty near the temple already has the stove running. I can see the smoke wafting from a big pan.
School buses make a line, surprisingly calm ... no honking at each other.
I turn the swing back .... towards the trees and the small jungle. The leaves are quivering in the early morning breeze. The haze hangs on the still existing small piece of Jowar field.
And the small stream has a couple of white herons standing sleepily on one leg ... waiting for their next catch.
I don't think there is any other place on earth where winter can be so beautiful.
Yes, I love Pune in the winters.
The sun turns warm.
The couple staying in the hut just below the stream have started their makeshift fire .... the smoke of dry woods burning fills the air.
I love that smell ... every morning and evening.
Time to make some tea for myself.
I get up and step in ... for the day. And the chores waiting.
Today's recipe takes me back to my childhood, often.
When I was young, back home, Thamma made sure we had our proper doses of different kinds of things to keep different kinds of illnesses that the change of seasons brought along, away.
On some days, it was the Neem on our plates, on some days it would be the raw papaya juice and on other days it would be the Kancha Holud er rosh or the juice of raw turmeric.
Raw turmeric is easily available in winters and is very good for the body.
So along with the daily masalas to be made, the house help had this chore of making the juice of raw turmeric for the children. Also, she needed to take care to use only the shil nora (mortar and pestle ) meant for this and not the usual one in which she might have ground the chillies or ginger.
I got respite from this only after I left home for studies.
But after I got married, raw turmeric entered my life again. In the form of pickles.
B got a big batch of them home once after we got married and I stared at him in dismay.
Till he said "I will ask Mummy when I call tonight how she makes Haldi ka achar."
I had never thought of making pickles before that.
And I did not even eat achar!
But later, the recipe turned out to be an easy one ... almost like a cooked sabzi.
So I made it.
And have been making it ever since.
My only condition was .... somebody else peels and cuts the raw haldi.
I hate to see my fingers turn such an adamant yellow that it refuses to leave for even a week.
Of course, now I have the kitchen gloves.
So, here is Ma in law's recipe of the Haldi ka achar.
Pretty easy to make. And quite tasty too, not to mention healthy.
You can grate the haldi too ... I just cut it into thin strips. I also threw in a few green chillies ... you may or may not.
Raw Turmeric / Kacche Haldi - cut into thin strips, 2 cupsful
Mustard oil - 4 tbsp
Hing / Asafoetida - 1 tsp
Fresh green chillies - a few, broken
Black mustard seeds - 1 tbsp
Saunf / Fennel seeds - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Amchur / dry mango powder - 1 tsp (or more if you like it sour )
Salt - to taste
How to :
Heat mustard oil in a thick bottomed kadahi or pan.
Add haldi and fresh green chillies and fry.
Add salt and cover and fry till done.
Run the mustard seeds + saunf seeds in a mixer to grind coarsely.
Add to the haldi and add red chilli powder.
Fry well till all water dries up.
Add amchur powder.
Enjoy with parathas or with plain dal and rice.