Lactose-free Rasmalai.

Lactose-intolerant people like me are missing a lot of beautiful and tasty treats of the world. Sometimes even an extra slice of cheese keeps me awake at night. In order to innovate and still get to taste the deliciousness of the original, Rasmalai was made in a different manner. Many of you might know this, and hopefully, many more would come to know about it.

Ingredients:

A few pieces of cardamom.

A little kesar if you want a bit of colour and added fragrance.

A tin of condensed milk.(Milk Maid was used at home)

A few Rossogollas.

Procedure:

Boil condensed milk in a kadhai or just a microwave-proof bowl. Stir it and add the spices. Boil a little more. Taste it to check the flavours. Now after you switch off the gas or the microwave, just add the rossogollas and roll it in the gravy so that it seeps in. Add the kesar, if you have it, or simply use it as garnish. Serve it cold.

Very easy, but tasty Indian dessert Read More

Advertisements

Jama Masjid

Almost a year in Delhi and NOT having visited Jama Masjid was becoming a personal failure.

Exams over, and Jama Masjid seemed to be the perfect place for that unwinding of the spine and craning of the neck.

Thanks to the expansive Metro service in Delhi, travelling isn’t difficult.

Try getting on the Yellow Line metro that goes towards Vishwavidyalyay and get down at Chawri Bazaar. From there you could take a 15 minute walk or just hop in an e-rickshaw.

From the first peek itself, I felt this throbbing excitement in my heart. So much it became that I wished to go ahead all by myself and leave behind my faithful companion who also happened to be an old friend. (no hate pls)

WP_20170520_17_59_13_Pro

 

 

On finally ascending those centuries old steps, I could feel a sense of calm descending on me, settling in the very throbbing of my heartbeats.

 

WP_20170520_18_08_33_Pro

Closer and closer

I was a little anxious as to whether they’d allow me in my short-sleeved top and patiala, but allaying my fears, I was allowed entry with shoes in my hands.

Once inside, the vastness of the space and sparseness of people got into me so well that I could have written an entire epic on the vacuity of mankind at that very moment. Needless to say, I also might have been high on divine interference while writing it, otherwise it won’t be as great as the Classics. Nor would my rhyme be used to (mis)quote at the drop of every peacock feather.

That glorious dome on my right and the view of the Red Fort on my left made me lose all inhibitions, and I ran across the hot red floor in glee.

And when I say “hot”, I mean 45 degrees. On red sandstone.

 

WP_20170520_18_16_34_Pro

All in one frame 🙂

 

Once I started walking around, I couldn’t help being grasped by the unshakeable feeling of being in a historically consecrated space. The sheer ecstasy of walking on the same floors that must have been walked on by personages who had so far existed only in words and vague impressions on my mind filled me with such a sense of fulfilment that I stood awestruck, looking at it, trying to fathom its 300 year old frame of history and attempting to imprint its existence in the confines of my naive mind.

WP_20170520_18_44_24_Pro

See if you can spot the Red Fort. 🙂

Red brick buildings are awe-inspiring. And the sheer amount of hard work it took for those ancient builders to carve out of these stones the history that stays in public memory is something to which my mind keeps going back again and again.

WP_20170520_18_49_40_Pro This stairway leads you upstairs, closer to the minarets from where you can survey what Chandni Chowk is all about. Unfortunately, they let tourists go up until their evening prayers, and we were late.

So, we just dipped our hands and feet at the water tank and sat down to watch the evening prayers.

WP_20170520_19_03_30_Pro                   WP_20170520_18_43_14_Pro

 

 

 

And as the evening prayers reverberated across the space, the setting suns made the vast area resemble some half closed street fair, with all the men congregating near the prayer space, and with only few women with their children scattered about. Washing our faces and feet at that tank made me feel a languor comparable to waking up late in the morning and then stretching on the bed with the bedsheets all over the place.

WP_20170520_19_18_36_Pro.jpg

The reverence and awe I hold for this place is compounded by my personal attachment to Delhi and its people with their extraordinary lives. It’s a city of marvellous beauty, with an unhappy edge that bares its poisonous fangs at innocents and equally having the charm to bind its lovers in a frenzy that refuses to still the throbbing heart long after it has reached the pinnacle of profusion.

WP_20170520_18_26_24_Pro

Winter is a great time to visit, and so is monsoon. Just a little care and rain check goes a long way in ensuring great photos and a beautiful time.

P.S. I visited Jama in the second week of May this year.

 

 

MJ

Mj I look for you,
as the cloud descends on the street
prowling for remains that dried up hours ago.

As sinister corners wink at me and horned bulls whip their tails,
I wonder whether you’re nearby
watching me feel the walls
screaming in my drapery of silence.

Oh Mj, how times passed.
been so long since I went looking for you,
trying to catch you in the dust that settles on my nose
in the long drawing out sunlight
that teases my crumpled sheets
and curtains thick with memories.

In the twilight of my memories
I try to grasp you as you slowly fade away
smiling at my mute face
losing in the crowded days

Dust and scorn greet my eyes,
as the balmy sun rips the skies
Mj,you’re here, aren’t you?

I feel you whispering through the strands running across my face
in the repressed voices that choke my throat
in the liquid waters that fill my mind
in the twilights that
smelled of rose.

Ashes of memories remain
like the Buddhist’s white robe
stained with blood
dried in the sunlight
which once gave him love.

Happy Three Months

I wake up,
Blanket moves away.
My shawl obliges,
Doesn’t wanna stay awake.

I hear the kitchen noises
I know it’s breakfast.
Same old poha,
Or parathas.

Slight chill in the air,
Dilli seems to choke.
Weatherman says so.

Same old noises for three months now,
Only difference:
Shawls and blankets in tow.

Kitchen noises subside,
People noises increase.
The balcony seems noisier
Than what it had been.

The cat doesn’t like mornings,
Purrs away in its sleep.
My feet become her pillows,
My shadows her dreams.

The sunlight seems sweet,
Soft on the marble slab.
Dried leftovers from last night
Occupy the gap.

What did I do last night?
Where had I been?
My slippers seem everywhere
Except where it should be.

Last night seems strewn all over the floor
Stains all over my walls
But no windows.

I walk and walk away,
The shadows fall back
The sunlight seems warmer now,
Memories of Bhai Dooj warm my blood.

Little pleasures greet me again,
Here in Dilli,
My first city of pain.

P.S. I landed in New Delhi from Calcutta on 30th July. Had my classes 1st August onwards. I’ll probably stay here well after my Master’s course is over.

The Great Indian Daylight Robberies

For the past 3 months or so, a string of ads with the hashtag #GiveItUp had been airing on every media channel conceivable. Literally. Even petrol pumps and gas stations had huge billboards plastered, accompanied further with the words, “Light the fire in a poor man’s kitchen, give up your LPG subsidy”. Yes, one of the few good public welfare policies that the Indian Government has ever successfully implemented, is now being withdrawn. Ads showed middle class families talking of how they saw their mothers cooking in wood fires and causing immense damage to their health and morale, etc etc only so that they could cook blah blah.. the usual attempts at tear-jerking. The existing system involves getting 12 cylinders at subsidized rates with the subsidy getting directly deposited in the user’s account, and any extra cylinder to be bought at the market rate.

Well, I’d be only to happy if it’s done on an income-based policy, but I don’t think that’s happening.

I didn’t think too many people would fall for it, but recently the data released by the Center revealed that a whopping 45 lakhs people have already given up their subsidy, and therefore the Center is now planning to offer subsidy on the basis of income. Basically, all those people fell for the trap and in turn trapped others too. Since coming to power, the Modi government and its hardcore Right winged Hindutva groups have proved that they’re not exactly pro-poor, or even pro-fair play, if this latest “rethink’ is applied, I think the Centre’s pockets would be bulging a lot. I wonder what would people do then. Should they change their profile pictures from “I support Digital India”, and give up their data subscriptions? I think I would, when that day comes. The government won’t rethink its caste discrimination and caste reservation, but it seems super fast in stealing money!

Coming to stealing money, the Centre, last week announced a 0.5% cess on all taxable services to fund its Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan(Clean India Mission). http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Swach-Bharat. In normal language, soon everyone has to pay more to “help” something that has no chance of recovering or improving. The Government is basically asking for money to buy more sweeping and washing equipment. Hmm. Do these politicians even clean their homes themselves? NO. “Indian culture” has been defined and codified in so many ways in the past 1 year(since this Right wing govt. came to power, that is), that currently, it’s my firm belief that hypocrisy, and hypocrisy alone is “Indian Culture”.

Maa, stop feeling so sorry all the time.

The other day during dinner when I remarked that the pumpkin pieces weren’t soft enough, Maa kept apologizing that perhaps she hadn’t boiled it enough, or maybe she was in such a hurry, the gas wasn’t too high and so on. A few days ago, rather this happens a lot, we ran out of hand wash or maybe it was paper towels, I can’t recall correctly, and she went all “I didn’t go out in the evening today. I really should have. Just one day I decide to rest.. Such an inconvenience..”. Few months back, I told her that she doesn’t have to make breakfast for me before leaving for work, I’m perfectly capable of making a sandwich or a cup of Complan. Also, she doesn’t have to be so precise in laying out the table for Babushona(my father) in the morning, and she doesn’t have to keep everything ready when I have lunch later on. I’ll soon turn 21 and I’ve been on my own for as long as I remember. True, I’ve lived in a creche, at a time when it was considered taboo, and have had a governess till I was 15, but I’m fiercely independent. She knows that. But no. Maa has to do everything she thinks will express her care for us and make up for the guilt she has been suffering of being a working mother. And instead of being out by 9am, she’s usually late by 15 minutes and ends up spending a lot of money on transport, just to reach by 10:45. She’s late, more often than not.

I can’t emphasize enough: STOP FEELING SO SORRY ALL THE TIME.

It’s not your fault that the clothes weren’t brought back from the cleaners on time. It wasn’t your fault the other day when you forgot to keep my salad out for lunch. It was not your fault that you forgot to bring my meds. It’s not your fault that Babushona has been wearing a torn shoe for a long time. It’s not your fault that my hair is falling out in clumps. It’s not your fault that you had to undergo surgery 3 years back. And it’s definitely definitely not your fault that you’re a working woman and have to devote 10 hours away from home daily.

Me and my mom. :) 4 years back.

Me and my mom. 🙂
4 years back.

It just eats me up. I know Babushona doesn’t express much and lets her do whatever she wants, but I understand how fed up he gets sometimes when Maa just can’t stop blaming herself. She’s important in the family, yes, but it’s not as if we’re unable to make adjustments or take care of ourselves and relieve her of the extra duties so that she has some time for hersef! There’s bound to be difficulties, yes, but we’re gonna take care of it. It’s nothing unusual to falter and make mistakes, or simply forget things. Why do you have to be so uptight all the time?

I think it’s not just you. There are so many women out there, working, non-working, who continue to feel guilty and sorry for things that are not their fault at all. It’s an effect of how they were reared. For my Maa, I know it’s definitely how she has been raised and judging by how my maternal grandmother’s suffering, completely bedridden for more than 3 years with limited active memory and mobility, I fear for my mother’s health. I know the direction in which she’s heading and I am gripped by the fear that I can do nothing as she goes further away from the shore, leaving me behind with nothing but sand dripping through my fingers.

At your age, you’re bound to have certain physical problems crop up and I don’t want you exerting yourself the way used to say, 10 years ago. Your mother is bedridden and when you’re 75, I don’t want you like her, gazing at me with watery, large eyes unable to recall my name and uttering incoherent noises passed off as “words”.

All I’m saying is, Maa I love you with all my heart and I’m aware of all the sacrifices, but just let me help you out for a change. I am not gonna blame you if anything goes wrong, or doesn’t go my way. Being an outsider, I can clearly see the symptoms that first appeared on your mother and other members of your extended family. I don’t want the same ending for you. But that doesn’t mean you’re gonna keep hiding anything that troubles you, like an irritating mole somewhere or a painful rash. It could also be a pain in your forehead. But let me know. Let me help you from spiraling out of control and ultimately destroying yourself. I am not judging you. I never will. And even if you don’t ask, at least don’t refuse when I’m offering help. The same with Babushona. We don’t want picture perfect table settings or breakfasts in bed or random cooking from you. We want you to be healthy and content that you’ve taught us enough to take care of ourselves and you as well.

Soya Aloo Tikki.

I’m always trying to make stuff that have easily available ingredients. Sometimes, I’m on a roll with leftovers while at other times, it’s just the remaining granules of soy chunks or a few almost-withering sprigs of coriander that makes the little chef in me go crazy and all pro. Here is a recipe from one of those days. Enjoy. 🙂

Soya-Aloo Tikkis

Ingredients:

1)Soya granules.

2)Potatoes.

3)Coriander leaves.

4)A few slices of lemon.

5)Oil for frying.

6)Powdered biscuits for coating.

7)Salt, pepper or chaat masala and any other spice for flavour.

Procedure:

1)Boil the potatoes and mash them. Add salt, pepper and any other spices to add flavour. It’s gonna be a soft, malleable mash. Cover it and keep aside.

The potato mash for the tikki.

The potato mash for the tikki.

2)Take the soya granules and boil them. After this, just fry them a bit. Be careful, they burn easily, so just fry enough to get rid of their raw feeling. Switch off the gas and keep the granules in a bowl.

Soya granules post garnish and frying.

Soya granules post garnish and frying.

3)In the bowl where the soya granules are kept, add lemon juice, coriander and some chaat masala. Mix it well.

4)Now, take little portions of this soya mix and feed it into a little parcel of potato mash. They might stick out and even fall apart, but just add enough of the soya mix so that you get a mouthful when you take a bite. Now flatten these balls. It might seem like a really difficult task keeping it together, but don’t try to flatten them with all you’ve got!

The flattened and crusted tikkis.

The flattened and crusted tikkis.

5)Now take those flattened balls, now known as “tikkis”, and cover them with the powdered biscuit on both sides. I just used regular leftover biscuits and crushed those with all my might.

6)Heat oil in a pan and fry the tikkis on both sides. Be careful while you fry them, as their not-so-thick nature acts as a help to burning.

7)After they’re fried, put them on paper towels to soak the extra oil and garnish with coriander or any other leaf you wish!

The final product!

The final product!

As a rule, I’m not exactly into vegetarian dishes. But unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to cook with non-veg stuff. This recipe can be done in so many different ways and with so many kinds of ingredients. Hope you enjoy this vegetarian soya-aloo tikkis!

Silent Reverberations.

I couldn’t think clearly enough. The old woman’s pleas to his son were deaf to his ears but to me, they just reverberated through my body. When he was hitting her head against the wall and on her person, I could feel the deep heavy thuds resonating across my apartment and shaking the very bones in my heart. I gritted my teeth together and I was shaking in rage, in anger. I took my phone, shut the door behind me and swiftly walked downstairs.

The next few minutes now seem like a haze to me.

As I asked that 30 something bastard whether he was beating up his mom or not, he replied that he just tied her up or something like that, to which I asked him to just stop doing that and he kept justifying that his mom would try to go out and other mumblings, I don’t remember. Then he said that the beatings were going on for long and that he wouldn’t ask me to do things inside his own house. I then retorted by saying that beating up his own mother was his right, wasn’t it? And he kept saying, though with less force, that he wouldn’t have to ask me before doing something inside his own home.

As I walked up the stairs to my apartment, I only told him one last thing- You’ll know what it is about when you’ll be meted out the same thing. I said this because his wife was pregnant. I haven’t heard a sound from their place since I walked up. I’m still really angry, but I also know that at least now I won’t feel as helpless as before. And at the same time, I know there’s nothing more I can do apart from letting people know about his misdeeds. But then again, no one would care. They’ll plaster on the smiles when they meet him next and go about doing their activities, only maybe talking about him behind his back.

Maybe he would be socially ostracized, but that seems highly unlikely. But how far would ostracism work? Wouldn’t he be just glad that no one cares and hence continue with his beatings? Now I wonder if I should have taken a video recording of this incident, but what would have been the point? My mother was taken aback when I conveyed this incident to her over the phone and she was confused about what to say. The same with my father. I think they’re more worried about how to react on coming face to face with him, living as we do, in the same building. But had I been in their place, i wouldn’t have worried too much about the consequences, for I know this should have been done before.

The thing that perturbs me is how he coolly he said that he wouldn’t have to consult me before doing something inside the boundaries of his home. What about home right? Torturing your own mother? Wasn’t that a violation of human rights? I agree that morality is purely subjective, but how else would you judge a son who beats up his own mother because she was an Alzheimer’s Disease patient and would end up doing things that caused disruption at home.

I’m still very shocked at his calm response, considering that he didn’t sense when I indicated to him being a father soon. But that’s how it’s gonna be, I guess. His wife will get beaten up and he’s gonna be a cripple while that happens or maybe he’ll be dead by that time. Or maybe nothing will happen and he’ll get away with his crime.

I couldn’t tolerate what he was doing to his mother, but I don’t know how the mother was tolerating this and for how long this is going to continue.  Maybe she’s holding on to his son and his wife in the deepest corner of her mind, mistaking this abuse as a sign of love, displayed to show that he’s doing it fro her, I don’t know. Till I’m sure that he’s stopped beating her, I can only feel a little hope that he just might stop. I don’t know if I should speak up again if he starts hitting her. The laws in our country are of no help and there’s no organization I know of who could come to her help.

Her cries and pleas still echo in my ears and I shudder each time I hear any noise that emulates a loud thud or a muffled cry, ’cause I don’t know how to distinguish between a door being shut loudly and someone’s head being banged incessantly.