Summer means new leaves and fragrant flowers on the mango trees.
Summer means that light, soothing breeze from the pond, in the afternoons, when the fans did not work due to load shedding.
Summer means the sweet, ripe mangoes that were plucked in the morning and kept on wet sand, for us children to wake up from our afternoon nap and bite into.
Summer means yellow, mango juice stains on white frocks.
Summer meant waking up to the fragrance of the Bel phool ( Mogra flower ) plants under Thamma's window, near her head.
Summer means evenings with a balmy breeze.
Summer means that beautiful smell of dry, thirsty earth when I watered our garden with a hosepipe.
Summer means light food.
Summer means Ma's watermelon juice.
Summer means the bunches of sweet Lichu (Lychee) that Bapi brought.
Summer means Thamma's achars and ambols.
Summer means Dadu's house and paanto bhaat.
With aloo sheddho, dal sheddho, maach makha, bori bhaja and shaak bhaja.
With a drop or two of achar er tel or pickle oil.
Summer means lying on the cool floor of red cement, polished with time, in Dadu's house after a lunch of paanto.
And listen to the repeated creaks of the old fan, that slowly lulls you sleep.
Summer is made of things memories are made of.
Though officially summer hasn't set in, not yet.
But the weather outside surely spells summer.
It is extremely hot and given Pune's dry and humid free weather, burning hot is more apt to describe it.
But nature still is in spring and the trees are still bare.
New, baby leaves are yet to come.
And in these days, all I crave is plain steamed or boiled food.
As light as possible.
Given my way of cooking, food can't get any lighter in my home. But I still cannot stand a tempering of spices, leave alone frying pastes and making gravies.
Which is why I am resorting to plain boiled food.
In the Bengali way of cooking, plain boiled food can be made extremely tasty.
If you have made friends with the mustard oil, then you have won the battle already.
And if not, there is always ghee.
One dollop and a boiled and mashed vegetable, with some green chilli mashed in, it tastes like manna from heaven.
You have to try it to believe me.
I make this dal sheddho a lot, both during summer and winter.
Red masoor dal is high in protein and is very healthy.
In winters, I use it to make vegetable soups.
Or just sip on its water when plain boiled , with a drop of ghee or butter and some freshly ground black pepper.
Does wonders to a sore throat.
In summer, I jazz it up with some raw chopped onions and green chillies.
A dash of mustard oil is all that is needed for fragrance and that kick, to take it to the next level.
If having it with the paanto bhaat, I keep it thicker so that it is easy to mash.
And for eating it with rice, I keep it slightly diluted.
Like I did this time, when I made it for lunch.
Red Masoor dal - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Onion - 1 medium, chopped into very small pieces
Green chillies - 2, chopped
Coriander leaves - chopped ( optional , I use only in winters )
Salt - to taste
Mustard oil - 1 tbsp
Water - 3 cups ( use the same cup used for measuring the dal )
How to :
Boil the dal with the turmeric powder + water + salt in a pressure cooker.
Remove and cool a little.
Add the chopped onion + green chillies + coriander leaves.
Add the onions only when the dal cools down.
Top it with mustard oil.
Serve warm with rice.
Here is a picture of my light, simple lunch with the Dal sheddho, some Dharosh (Okra) bhaja and some biulir daler bora.
Post on Dharosh bhaja is coming up soon.