Posted on October 26, 2015
Your garden is the place where you find yourself when you need to lose yourself.
Growing peace-prosperity-serenity-tranquility and beauty in your garden will reach you towards God.
There’s this beautiful garden sprouted afresh on the scorching sands … on the burnt, blackened land of my backyard.
That garden is also a lush harbor of flowers, bees, birds, butterflies.
Gardening is an ancient act of art and independence indeed. And cooking is the most beautiful act of survival. Cooking a simple curry that tastes like the night sky dressed in midnight pearls and stars is like creating a majestic masterpiece.
A taste of sweetness mixed with heat, dirt, earth….
6 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion. Finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger. Grated
1 medium tomato. Chopped
4-5 green chilies/peppers
Salt to taste
In a heated pan, pour oil and sauté onions and ginger in medium heat for 5 minutes. Add eggs, tomato chunks and salt. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle whole peppers and chopped herbs. Put the lid back on. Turn off the stove. Let the caramelized onions waltz with the gentle, humble heat of the peppers and earthiness of the ginger. Serve with rice/roti.
Your eyes will admire the amber glow of the curry. Your ears will listen happily the subtle sizzling wind chime-like sound while it’s cooking. Your hypnotized heart will stretch skyward after savoring it.
Posted on August 23, 2015
Self Reminder 1:
In those pitch-black eclipse nights, darkness will fold your soul like a thick-as-a-brick, deep, dense, thorny blanket. Your misguided feet will step into the quicksands in some sandstormy nights. You will be lost in the saddest city lane. Tears will fall from your sand-soaked eyes like falling piercing rain droplets. But you must journey on. And pray to the ONE who rules the thunder. Soon you will see the star-studded sky and twinkling twilight. Pray hard.
Self Reminder 2:
Eat simple, clean and fresh for food in your plate has a marvelous, magical story to tell, a legacy to leave.
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 whole Lemon/Lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (you may use Thyme, Parsley or your choice of herbs instead)
Good pinch of salt
½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon tomato paste/sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Vegetable oil will work just fine
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into cubes
3 Capsicum aka Bell Peppers -red, yellow, green- seeded, cut into pieces (optional)
1 Red onion, cut into cubes
3-4 wooden skewers ( soaked in water for a while to prevent from burning while grilling)
Mix first seven ingredients in a bowl.
Rub the paste on chicken cubes and let them marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and allow the meat to come to room temperature; it will take about 15 minutes.
Thread the chicken and veggies onto wooden skewers, then cook on a griddle/grill pan for 7-8 minutes each side or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and golden brown. Turn the kebabs frequently and brush the marinade from time to time until evenly cooked.
Self Reminder 3:
If you have a candle, let others light off theirs from yours. Your light won’t glow any dimmer. Then like Fireflies in the night, twinkling love surrounds you.
Posted on June 29, 2015
With drought in my mouth, storm brewing in my stomach, whenever I knocked on Grandma’s door, uninvited, she would greet me with a spatula in hand wearing a full blown smile. Smile like a brightly blazed flaming flower. A Sunflower.
Crimson colored oil drops dripping down her spatula. Drops like the Daffodils gone wild in the hills in a sizzling summer noon.
I loved sniffing the scent of passion, promises of Ruby red chicken curry. A truly treasured, real, rural, authentic, esthetic lunch dish. The treasure still holds my soul captive.
Grandma knew how to make a dish jazziest, how to make a soul happiest and how to be friendliest. She found soul and solace in sharing home cooked lunch every single day with whoever walked past her yard.
2 pounds skinless cut-up chicken
½ cup plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon ginger paste
1 Teaspoon garlic paste
Pinch of turmeric
1/2 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder. (It gives color. Not heat)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 stick Cinnamon, 3 cardamoms, 3 cloves
½ cup water
1/2 cup Ghee or olive oil
Salt to taste
4-5 whole green chili peppers. ( For a little heat and aroma)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Marinate cleaned, washed chicken with yogurt for about 30 minutes. This will eliminate raw odor and add succulence to the meat.
In a wide heavy-bottomed pot, heat ghee/oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions for 5 minutes.
When onions looking soft and light brown, add cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves. ( You may discard those before serving)
In a few seconds add water to prevent spices from burning. Now add garlic, ginger, turmeric and chili powder. Keep stirring for 5-8 minutes. Or until gravy separates from oil. Add meat. Coat the pieces well with gravy.
Add salt and green chili peppers. Adjust heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until chicken is tender and gravy thickens.
Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice to serve.
Old age crushed Grandma’s memory. Everybody is nameless to her. To her every face is like a frame-less portrait hung in an empty, hollow hallway. The Empress of the lotus covered linen lake house now is a weathered face. Her emerald eyes lost sight. Her senses are now unable to catch summer breeze or winter chills. But her open invitation for lunch to every passers-by would swirl and curl around their hearts like flowers and foliage painted in an ancient lighthouse tomb.
Posted on April 27, 2015
Just a few excellent, exhilarating ingredients – condensed into a cohesion, could make an exuberant, ecstatic, fantastic dish; one worthy of worshiping.
It is easy to achieve and summon such absurdly beautiful brightness, if the method is properly executed, spices carefully and lovingly cooked.
This is a velvety light, love-driven, decadent, and turmeric-chili-salt-pepper covered enchanting endeavor, best served on a scoop of steamed rice in a torrent rainy evening.
When whispering rainy days spill beauty like crystal confetti, people of beautiful Bangladesh dance tippy-toes between raindrops. To catch fish from seven hundred shimmering, sparkling, rigorous rivers. To pan-fry fish; tender, gently spiced, gorgeously rich timeless taste.
Baking a cake could be sagacious rocket science. But pan-frying fish is as charming of a chore as giving a hidden, unnamed river a name.
3 Fish fillets/cutlets (about 1 inch thick). Skin on or off
A pinch of salt, coarsely freshly ground black pepper, red chili powder, turmeric powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil for shallow frying
Bring the fish to room temperature 10 minutes before cooking.
Season the fish with above mentioned spices.
Warm a large fry pan or skillet with oil over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium-high. Place the fish in the pan. Cook until golden brown on 1 side, about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over with a spatula, and cook until it feels firm to the touch and the skin is crisp if desired, about 3 minutes more.
The skin can be served or removed easily.
Lost in the lofty taste, your heart and senses will end up being wrapped and covered with color, charisma….lifting you high like a Hummingbird, out the horizon, across a sunshiny river, deep into the pearly pebbles far down in the river’s bosom.
Posted on February 2, 2015
Countless snow flurries are falling soundlessly. Mother nature gets grey and as dry as the Sahara. Winter windchill enters her bloodstream and she feels a sense of resignation, fear … when the sense of hibernation is that strong, that deep, that long-lasting and that huge, why not celebrate light ! Why not feast with sweets against the darkness of Winter!
To wade off Winter’s chill, if you’re in the pursuit of some antidote, some drug to saturate your palate; something that can melt you, thaw you out and untangle you …. Try Ricotta Fudge. Or, try Lal Mohon which is also known as Gulab Jamun in South Asia. Your spirits will kindle!
There is so much sweetness, softness, happiness, beauty and bliss in those tiny, cute, juicy balls! Pop one in your mouth, let it explode in your throat and you’ll feel an unbelievable amount of glee traveling down to your tummy!
For making balls:
Full cream milk powder 1 cup
All purpose flour 1 tbsp
Baking powder 1/4 tsp
Ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil 1 tsp
Milk or water 3 tbsp
Cardamom powder 1/4 tsp
For making syrup:
Sugar 1 cup
Water 2 cups
Cardamoms 4 pcs
Rose water 2 tsp
For deep frying:
Oil or clarified butter (ghee)
1. Mix well flour, baking powder, milk powder, cardamom powder.
2. Add Ghee and liquid milk. Make soft but sticky dough.
3. Make 1″ balls. About 12 balls. Make sure there’s no crack on the surface of the balls.
4. Heat oil/Ghee over medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Reduce heat. Lightly fry balls in batches until they turn reddish brown. Heat should be same all the way through. After frying for 7-8 minutes, balls will float and expand in size. Drain balls, place on paper towel.
1. Make simple syrup by mixing and cooking water plus sugar. Add cardamoms. Reduce heat. Throw fried balls.
2. Cook for 3-4 minutes in medium heat. Add couple of drops rose water for a little exotic kick. Stop cooking.
3. Let the balls soak in the flavored syrup for 3 hours.
Serve as dessert or evening snack. A cup of tea would nicely go alongside. Fresh, warm dumplings are better, but chilled ones is a perfectly good option for that pleasant chillness instantly will warm up, ignite your heart.
This is the kind of taste that lasts for a lifetime! It has this amazing power to bring your shattered, tired, frozen self back to life. And that light-airy-velvety-sunny-sweet aftertaste will leave your tongue comfortably numb ♥
Posted on November 20, 2014
There is this humongous mysterious misty Eucalyptus filled jungle standing tall between civilized world and the habitat of savages. A jungle so immeasurably dense that the trees lost track of whose leaves were whose. Darkness and densness consumed all the greens and golden rays of the sun. They say the sun never blazes over there and the moon is always curled up in darkness like a phantom in the forest.
My curious eyes tried to penetrate the jungle and see what lies on the other side. All my unsuccessful attempts left me with some burning questions:
Do their grandmas hold the precious babies on the lap under the far away stars and whisper lullaby in their ears?
Back then I was 16 and I already figured out a world full of urban sleepwalkers where nobody was actually awake. A world full of churning hatred, human heart like verbal firing squad, bitter suspicions… A world busy with mocking, angry talk, spreading vicious debate, heated conversations….
I’d be better off in the jungle. So, I surrendered to this dark, seductive, irresistible allure …. I crossed the jungle. I met the habitat who has chosen exile. And I spotted their emerald island. It was unearthly.
There were color and beauty everywhere. Smooth black skin, ruby red Hibiscus tucked in the hair, saffron shirts, peacock blue sarees. White hearts.
The said ‘savages’ did not howl, leap, spun, and made horrid faces at me. They were just a small clan of tribal people who cares-a-damn about so called modern civilization and happily decided to dwell into the woods.
They treated me as one of their own with some Orange-Shrimp. Sweet, earthy scent intoxicated my senses. It made me lose my mind. It carried me to the other side of paradise instantly.
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, garlic, ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes. (Couple of green chilies will also do)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Steamed rice, for serving
* In a saucepan, saute onion, garlic, ginger, chili in olive oil for 5 minutes. Pour juice. Bring it to a boil. Add shrimps. Simmer over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes.
* Season with salt and sugar.
* Garnish with parsley and serve with rice.
Heat, sweetness, tartness, beauty and inherent likability are all at play into one single dish. But It was not the quantity of the dishes but the cheerfulness of the hosts which made the feast.
With each step back towards the civilized world, I must digest the brutal fact: those colorful characters do not spend their income on war and guns. Only hunting and survival tactics they practice which they Inherited from their ancestors. They do not exhibit the savage practice of killing each other off; they are erudite savages who labor hard for peace.
The latticework of love all over that place reveals another brutal truth: those barbarous people are not a part of our savagery-wrapped civilization. They are beautiful, mythical ; straight out of a Novel.
Those ‘savages’ will overflow their guests with kindness even if they cordially dislike them. We bombard who we dislike.
Posted on September 11, 2014
Exciting events are not supposed to happen in small towns, in the kingdom of 15 year old girls … who are often caged and curtained by a male chauvinist society.
It was a peaceful, twilight late night and I was sitting on a boat crossing Jamuna with some friends. There was a beautiful emptiness, moments of stillness, silence all across that apparently lawless, rowdy, wild river. Our destination is the other side of Jamuna. We set off to explore my ancestor’s sunshiny shrine rimmed with Roses; a magical destination, as fascinating as Narnia or the kingdom of Sheba.
High school was over and for the first time, I was allowed to cross the border … the boundary that I have been living all my girlhood.
I hear my ancestor’s village always glitters grandly with evening twilight. Inhaling the smell of crystal silver waves, listening to the whispers of gentle summer breeze, watching the moonlit swirling its surreal aura, slowly by slowly, and quietly, all over the deep blue sky I got lost thinking of the divine classic peasants food that my ancestors savor. My Mom has been proudly replicating and feeding us those humble dishes ever since I can remember.
Over there mornings shiver with alluring sunlight. Blossoms thrust up merrily everywhere. Beduin-Bees touch the petals of Poppies, Lillies and Roses. And the people of the magic-land celebrate life with a cup of tea. Every single morning.
Whole wheat flat breads and pan fried spicy eggplant. Earthy. Fiery. Soul soothing meal; their breakfast.
The people of the land of prairies and miles of paddy fields snack on pink lentil fritters.
These savory fritters bring promise to sweep away dreadful darkness. By rights, something that tastes so good should cost a lot. But they are dirt Cheap! Gorgeous, crunchy, crispy, glistening. These picturesque, charismatic fritters is a sight to behold.
Village style lunch under a pavilion deep in the paddies: Egg Curry with grace notes of Parsley. And mounds of rice spooned from hand pounded sun dried mud-pot. There’s no denying the power, beauty and majesty of Egg curry when the weather is sweltering.
2 tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh garlic + ginger paste
400 gram fresh chopped tomatoes
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a pan. Then fry the onions over a low heat for 10 minutes until golden. Add garlic-ginger paste and sizzle for 2 minutes, stirring. Add tomatoes and 200 ml water, season to taste, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until you have a rich sauce/gravy.
Meanwhile, boil eggs for 8 minutes, cool in cold water, peel and halve. Put the eggs into the pan, spoon the curry sauce over and leave for another 2 minutes to heat through. Serve with rice/bread.
Dinner: seasoned and drizzled with olive oil, as it sautees, the shrimps crisps and reddens here and there in a lovely way. Adding a dash of dried herbs gives the dish an incredible flavor. The pan juices make a delicious sauce to mop up with bread or to spoon over a salad of fresh cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes..
Satiny, silky, velvety Pumpkin-Carrot Halwa; simple, sweet and satisfying dessert with an esthetic that my ancestors surrendered themselves to for ages. .
Can’t wait to visit the land with countless corridors of peace & prosperity. Can’t wait to meet the people who grow love and bountiful crops in the wilderness. Can’t wait to relish their food of elemental beauty and purity.
The sky was wide open with millions of twinkling stars. Small. Huge. Bright. Blurry. How glamorous! How mysterious! I stared at the starry sky. For how long I don’t know. I heard the announcement of our arrival. The stars started fading away. The sky was turning ruby red. The warmth of the sun was about to greet the day. And I can clearly see my destination: on the back side of the river. Things are greening up over there.