When tragically urban, rootless, ruthless civilization becomes breath-chocking, I take a drive to the cottage of my friend. To taste the earth and the jungle. That countryside cottage is gracious, its presence is ethereal, as unconditional love always is.
That timeless cottage stands under the pavilion deep in the grass. Here the sunshine is more wholesome as the withering Winter doesn’t linger. Here Orchids, butterflies, woods, wild Strawberries are all organic.
Kingfishers, glimmer of glow worms, Squirrels fly in rhythm. Here raindrops gently kiss the muddy Rosemary.
Metropolitan clock stops ticking here.
The man of the house wrings milk from freshly grated coconut, milking cows and goats. The woman of the house cooks vibrantly colored curries and intricate sweet, salt and sour stews every single day for their children. And the children of the house look like our ancestors: healthy, happy.
Hypnotic Haleem: sticky stew of meat, lentil and grains is full of gentle spices and warm comfort. Let the howling wind lash on my urban windows. Let it snow. Let the unmatched purity of rustic flavor ignite my stiffed heart.
1/2 cup each mung dahl/lentil, yellow split peas and barley
1 1/2 pound beef/lamb
2 tbsp each garlic & ginger paste
1 tbsp each freshly ground coriander & cumin
1 tbsp crushed red chili or 4-5 green peppers
1 tsp turmeric
2 sticks of cinnamon
1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
2 1/2 liter water
To serve: (Optional)
Julienne ginger, chopped coriander leaves, sliced lemon, chopped green chillies.
* Soak dahl & barley together overnight. Wash, drain, place in a large heavy-based saucepan with meat and all the spices. add water. Simmer for around 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The stew will look sticky and thick at this point.
* In a fry-pan, add Ghee and fry sliced onions until brown. Add it all to the stew.
* Serve hot with fresh salad or above mentioned ginger, herbs and citrus.
Water melon chunks engulfed in flaming red.
By the end of the evening, that twilight-colored cottage always sends me back home with a basket full of pristine, free-range eggs and some sunshine to carry on my heart.
It’s a blessing to get to spend time at that preposterously fantastic cottage – the sort of thing you might read in fairy-tales only – a destination ripe with romanticism and infused with love ♥