As a child, I was a fussy eater. Aai(mother)made all her futile attempts to feed her fragile girl with different kinds of preparations. All I relished,was polya (Indian whole wheat bread, rolled flat into a circle) with clarified butter and sugar, jam or at times condensed milk. I have always had a sweet tooth. Bengali mishti, roshogolla or even mishit doi could fill my appetite. I could eat the sweet meats any time and in any quantity. That was how I probably extracted energy and kept going. Occasional Bengali feasts at our family friends or even at the weddings was when I relished the most. Now this ‘most’ is my personal capacity because it would probably suffice anyone’s half a breakfast. Yet the flavours and the texture in the Bengali feast were always intriguing for the little me. My Marwaadi school friends tiffins and the churan was what I loved eating. It was an everyday ritual, buying jhal muri through the school bus windows, for a rupee from the jhal muri wallahs who stood perched outside schools at home time. I had an appetite for such street food. Phuchka, egg roll, radha vallabhi you name it and I could hog endlessly! Understanding and developing a palate for Marathi food came quite later in my life …very late I must mention. Thank goodness for Ruchira and my adventure cooking through it!!
Winters at home in India would mean perching up by the window, soaking the subtle warmth from the sun. With the fresh vegetables and limes showing up in the season this was the time of the year when Aai was always busy. She spent most her afternoons mixing her pickles of all sorts. Every year she prepared a variety of sweet and sour ones for the youngsters and the piquant pickles for the elders in the family. These pickles matured through the winter season in huge jars and made our favourite accompaniment with our meals for the rest of the year. I must mention Aai still enjoys pickling and the sun drying of the resources (usrya in Marathi) like vegetables and making papad and kurdai. She makes special batches for all her relatives when they visit her. Winter reminds me of our quarters in the CMERI colony when Tai(grandmother) came visiting us at Durgapur. Clad in her soft Ilkal nine-yard drape, Tai kept herself warm with a green shawl wrapped around her shoulders as we sat in the backyard overlooking our huge garden. Aai kept herself occupied with her favourite activity(of course pickling) while she waited for the new baby to join us..We all loved sitting on our baaz(char pai). Tai, me and Baba, watching aai and her pickle jars lined in a row. My little sister was to be born that month. I can visualise us sitting there on the verandah as Baba fiddled with his toy, a camera he bought from Stuttgart.
Three decades later our family album still has the black and white image he captured that morning as I sat with my family sipping my Bourvita. Tai’s shawl was an intricately woven Himroo shawl. At times, she would let me use her shawl as a sheet as I napped on our sofa. It was a reminiscing experience. It definitely was her love that kept me snuggled warm in her shawl. She probably used that beautiful fabric while she cooked next to her clay oven in Ambejogai. The fabric was woven not just with the silk and cotton threads by the weavers but also by so many of Tai’s experiences in her little kitchen. The moments, when she started her day with sprinkling water in the courtyard to settle down the dust and her rangoli was dotted with a faint red from the vermillion and turmeric she sprinkled on her patterns every morning. The sweet smell of the incense stick she lit after her puja every morning was trapped in the weaves of the fabric. It wafted of the warm puran poli and the aroma of spices she used to prepare her meals lovingly for the family. I would give anything to relive those moments.
When we moved to Maharashtra, we fortunately located to historical capital of Kolhapur. My siblings along with me went through a sudden transition of academics, culture and weather. Our young minds were coping with the changes in our life styles. Dada, our maternal grandfather had then accompanied us, to settle in well in our new place. It was a unique experience for us all. It was an undoubtedly a different experience when we spoke in our mother tongue both in and out our house. Unlike Kolkata where we spoke multiple languages Marathi, Hindi, Bengali and English.
At times the experiences were supportive for us to understand and at few other times, my siblings and I found it tricky to tune in. I recall one such incident when both I and my sister boarded a public transport from Shalini Palace to go to our school by Kavla Naka. Early morning commuters included the bhaajiwalya(vegetable vendors) and other regular commutors from the nearby villages. As we boarded the bus, both I and my sister held on to the railings attached to the roof of the bus. All the seats were well occupied. We had no other alternative but to wait till a few commuters including the vegetable vendors disembarked at Gangavesh. The bhaajiwali standing behind us was a beautiful personality. She was clad in a traditional nauwaar . A large kunku on her forehead ,a pearl nath on her nose, a long mangal sutra around her neck and the multiple coloured bangles proved she was very particular about her looks. Suddenly she poked me with her elbow as she held her basket of vegetable on her head and said”pori morha ho..” I looked at her and stared back at my sister. The lady repeated “ Morha hva ga, ushir hvatay..gaadi thambliya, utaraychay ki..pataa pataa morha vha”. Both my sister and I disembarked the bus thinking she is asking us to get down the bus for reasons unknown!! We had no other alternative but to hire a rikshaw to reach our school. It was in the evening when we informed our parents about our experience that we could make sense to the lady’s phrases. She was but asking us to move ahead and make space for her to get down and she wasn’t referring to us at all !! If only we were aware of the colloquial terms used! I can imagine my son visiting India and having similar experiences when walks through the lanes.
My food memories associated with this place were interesting. As my palate was acquiring the tastes of traditional cuisine in this belt of Maharashtra. The home ground spices and the variations of the tambda and pandhra rassa or even the vegetarian spread including the pithle made in sugarcane juice has remained lodged in my mind even today. The simple yet rustic fare served every day was savoured with such fun and satisfaction. These emotions associated with food started getting evident as I experienced it with little more interest.
My move to Pune to study Pharmacy and living away from home was interesting too. This is probably the place where I explored eating Marathi food the most. Our mess served Marathi dabba and I had to learn eating well! Even though each dabba was shared between the two of us in the room, it still was loads for me! At least, I had a taste of Puneri way of food preparations. Gradually, we decided to eat at the mess. This is where I had a chance to see a variety. Mavshi was a good cook. She needed to support her family of 2 daughters and a mother-in-law. Her passion for cooking showed in her meals served with love. Rassa bhaaji, paale bhajya, masale bhaat, kadhi, goadache prakaar, all were visited one by one. At times, mavshi even served kalan at the mess. Clearly if I recall these even today, I believe I had started enjoying my food. I was missing home cooked food. Thus, I started enjoying Aai’s traditional spread too every time I visited her at Kolhapur and later in Pune when my parents moved too.
It was only when I got married that I managed to observe (I dreaded stepping in to help fearing mistakes on my part) the fine nuances of cooking. I had observed the ladies draped in a nine yards saree during festive occasions who cooked the multicourse meal to serve the family (A family of 50-70 people). I always wished to be there to help. However, there was an apprehension when I looked at the massive spread on the kitchen platform. I dreaded it more as there was a talk of the whole process being just not laborious but complex! That posed a huge barrier!! Had someone encouraged me to look at those bottlenecks as a fun and interactive challenge, it possibly would not have been that daunting! Today though, I would encourage the youngsters to give those complex and laborious dishes at least a go. With strategies chalked out and an organised mindset, each of the levels of complexities can be ticked off to achieve the goal. It can be challenging yet rewarding!
Someday…I said to myself. Possibly someday I will stand by the kitchen platform. Drape in a nine-yard saree (If you read till the end of this post…you will get to know why I wished to). Cook a multicourse meal for an assemblage. Unfortunately I did not have enough experience in that kitchen either because we moved to England.
I try and relive whatever little I recall from the short visits to my grandparents in my summer holidays and the observations from Jalna. Aai cooked so many varieties when I was little. Right from the Maharashtrian meal to the fish curries that she learned from the domestic help at Kolkata. Hence everything I ate was a myriad of Indian food. Little did I know that food varied in every region of Maharashtra.
I started cooking through Ruchira as an experiment. In no time, I was hooked on to the range of recipes the book offered. With my full time job, cooking regularly through this book was slightly tricky. I made an effort to cook during my school breaks and holidays.Here are a few posts which are in between experience I had chronicled as I cooked through! The most memorable is when I spoke to Late Kamalabai Ogale’s daughter Ushatai(who sadly is no more). I was she was around to grade me on the ghewar challenge she gave me. Ruchira, even gave me the strength to help a fellow blogger fight plagiarism. A bunch of us cooked traditional Marathi cuisine in a revolutionary way and bring it forth to the global platform. Mehta Publishers kindly gave-away the books. I am thankful to them for their kind gesture.
Towards the tail end of the cooking-through, my health was poorly. I had to make up my mind to choose the job I loved doing and my love (family, cooking and above all myself)! I am glad I chose my love to focus on. Cooking for my family and myself has put me back in the momentum I had lost. This sabbatical proved to be fruitful! All the photographs of the recipes I cooked are posted either on RuchiraVideshini Facebook page or here on the blog.
I have always been naturally inclined to create stuff be it crafts, painting, dancing and anything which challenges me. Cooking somehow clicked only with this book. Every recipe posed a challenge in different ways. Working through each of them, creating and presenting them was such a wonderful experience. Slowly as I started overcoming the challenges, cooking seemed very interesting. Blogging was a kind of recording these experiences. Late Kamalabai Ogale is my inspiration in the kitchen. I would have missed out on such essential life skill had I not chanced upon her cookbook.
Years ago, I was a girl, who had made up her mind never to enter the kitchen and waste her time. Little did I know this essential life skill would turn out to be my happy activity later in my life. Since I was adamant not to learn cooking, my mother felt hapless for sure. However, I believe she must have had the assurance of her past experiences that I can’t do without getting myself in the kitchen.
Some 10 years back, cooking was just a necessity for me. Now, it is an emotion, a happy emotion. It helps me express and communicate. This emotion though is different from the other emotions I have. In this case, I do not need to explain. One just needs to taste.
This culinary journey saw me learning many more skills. I met a bunch of bloggers in the UK. The group helped me learn about food photography. Rather than just point and shoot, I worked on manual shooting with my camera. I could understand my camera finally. Photographing food made me love my food all the more. The props, the colours, styling and processing added another feather to my achievements. I had never ever thought I would fall so head-over-heels with cooking, food photography and styling. I am honing my skills with constant practice. This is when I realised the same bhaaji(vegetable preparation) I served in a simple vessel or at times kadhai(yes, I was terribly lazy, serving it on a proper server) made so much of a difference when plated with care and style. I enjoyed eating and my family enjoyed it equally.
Then began my next step. I focussed on cooking my food with the right ingredients, cutting the vegetables just right, cooking it the right way and presenting it in a pleasant way. Inspired by Kamalabai’s recipes and adapting them a few ways or coupling them with other techniques I was introduced to the whole new world of creation. Every meal served was idolised and enjoyed the most. Personally, I feel it is so much of a symbiotic effect. Treat and respect your food well, you will receive the same. Kamalabai has said in her book “समाधानाचा जन्म स्वयंपाक घरातून होतो” (True satisfaction is born in the kitchen).
I had to chase Ruchira for: Best flavours-best ingredients-best creations! Hence procuring and upskilling came into focus. I recall my drive to the Asian store for the sugarcane pieces and bhokra. The best was the drive at 7.30 pm in the evening while it snowed out there. I quickly wrapped myself in my heavy winter coat and hat, literally whisked Rajesh to the car to be driven to the stores for a bunch of Mainmula to make a pickle !!
While I was SEN teaching at the school, I came across different strategies to identify my learner’s needs and help them. Some were visual, few others kinaesthetic and while quite a few were good listeners. Guess what, I identified what kind of learner I was! Loncha (pickling) process in England was rather adventurous. I learnt only when I made it! Such a kinaesthetic learner I am!
As I cooked through the book I was able to get the past. Many a times, I feel I should have been born in her time. I would have so loved tending to the fire constantly putting the wood in chul(clay stove) and constantly changing the draft using the phunkni. Understanding the original recipes has been the main challenge. Quite a few recipes are in a colloquial language which is tricky for someone bred outside Maharashtra. Yet, having an experience of aai, ajji, mavshi, atya speaking in the kitchen and using the terms mooth bhar, avdi pramaane and nehmi pramaane, the experiment was all the more interesting. I had to decode these terms too in terms of taste. Gradually, I could figure out that simple ingredients bring lots of flavours.
I used the regular labour saving devices but I realised the taste differs. The added heat in the grinder changes the taste of food whilst the same food had a different taste and texture while grinding on paata varvanta or even khalbatta. Hence I decided to stick to the roots. I have a set of traditional devices and tools in my UK’s kitchen. It has everything from vili, khal batta, sup, pata varvanta, jaate, puran yantra, chakli sorya and even a tiny shegdi which I like using as a chul. What I have learned in the whole journey is the fact that there is no fast way to good creations. Slow and patient cooking leads to beautiful flavours and textures in our food. That is when all the ingredients speak out and the food is expresses directly from the heart of a cook. I started hashtagging my photographs during this time. Most of my photographs are tagged with a hashtag myUKkitchen.
People ask us why didn’t we put on weight (not that we haven’t widened in terms of our girth, but yes ) or who eats this spread? Do you give it your neighbours? No. We eat it. We cook with love and savour it. A spread cooked judiciously with simple and fresh ingredients together with love doesn’t lead to obesity. Each ingredient gets the due respect and we lose ourselves in the process of eating as well.
Today I see food from a very different perspective. When one is a child or as a newly wedded bride, all apprehensive about the nuances in the new family. We all have powerful memories of someone cooking for us that stays with us forever! My visits to Tai(paternal ajji) at CIDCO, Aai’s kitchen, summer breaks at ajji-mami-mavshi-atya and even Jalna after my wedding are now but memories to me. These memories act like precursors to the work I am doing. Food has the strength to take one back to that moment. What I realised during the whole journey is the need of learning. It is very important to learn and revive. I am learning and seeking different aspects as well in terms of presenting Marathi food in a grand way trying not to step out of the framework of traditions. This way, I am just not listening to the generation that came before us but opening the whole new art form for another generation. Reinterpreting memories into modern, divine presentation is my recent passion. I visualise the end product. I edit the photographs but not the thoughts from the generations in the past.
Later came my connection with the producers. Getting hold of the right ingredients through the right sources for the right flavours as I mentioned above. Hence we had Two Hands supporting last year for the farmers. Imagine if we stopped cooking, the process and the knowledge getting lost. I can’t think of such a disaster! What will the next generation have to feed themselves? I’d rather not give any answers to this… there possibly are options available but not fulfilling the Human needs. Cooking should be important and pleasurable.. The next generation needs to know it is an imperative skill for us humans. Cooking is again cooperative and collaborative adventure hence the get together we planned and the fund raiser and connecting with the people behind Shank’s fictional documentary.
During the tail end of my journey cooking through Ruchira, I watched a documentary “Fannie’s last Supper” by Christopher Kimball. The documentary features Fannie Farmer’s “The Boston Cooking School Cook-Book” and how in 2007, Christopher Kimball hosted an elaborate dinner using Victorian cooking methods outlined in Fannie’s book. Kimball did not use modern ovens. Mixers or a couple of things were used but the rest was knives, basic implements and the coal cook stove.
Since I was planning the big meal to celebrate the culmination of my learning journey, I was very much inspired by this documentary. I was determined to host a meal inspired by the same. In fact, both R and I procured a shegdi to cook our big meal as well. R made a beautiful invite to send out in the community.
We sat down to chalk out the menu. It had to be a complete meal. Multiple course meal it was planned. I definitely referred to the book again. Ruchira has suggestions for an inventory list when one is cooking for a group as large as 100. I halved the proportions as I was expecting around 60 people. However on the day we had a whopping number of 70 who attended! A menu comprising of the left, right and central servings was chalked out. Deshpandes’ 1 joined us the evening we were planning the event. We realised we might need to purchase a lot of inventory and organise the 2-3 weeks time to make sure everything was in place before we started the actual prep a day before. I am not a techie. What I like most is writing my notes and lists. I am so glad I did so. These are now safe in my drawer and I will cherish them forever. The evidence of my journey and the big meal we planned can now be reached any time I want. Just like the huge photo albums we flip through when we visit our parents to go through our memory lanes.
Lovely Suranga Date wrote a poetry when she came to know about the menu.
The menu has been looked upon by her lovely eyes and the words are such a joy to read! Do visit her blog for more of her work
एका राणीच्या देशात , दुसर्या राणीचा उत्सव !
एकीची ६५ वर्षे, दुसरीची ४७ .
दुसर्या राणीचे नाव रुचिरा ;
तिचा अर्थ सुंदर व चविष्ट ,
आणि कै कमलाबाई ओगल्यांनी
लहानाचे मोठे केलेल्या या राणीला ,
हाताशी धरून ,
देवांच्या प्रीतीने ओळींनी केलेले
जवळ जवळ २५० पदार्थ !
आता व्रताचे उद्यापन, आणि
त्या निमित्त रुचिराचे पृष्ठनृत्य
जेवणाचा प्राण असलेला साधा भात,
“चल ग सखे!” म्हणत वरणाला घेऊन अग्रभागी;
“किती हा खोडकरपणा ! चला!” म्हणत
डाव्या बाजूच्या मिठाला आणि लिंबाच्या फोडीला
जातीने बरोबर घेऊन आलेले सोनेरी तूप !
“इश्श्य! ” म्हणत तेलात वलयाकार फुलणारे पापड ,
आणि जोडीने कुतूहलाने उमलणाऱ्या कुरडया ;
आणि २२ कॅरेट सोन्यात , तेलात ,
कांदे बटाटे वांग्याला गूंडाळणाऱ्या भजी !
निरनिराळे लवेजमे घेऊन येणाऱ्या चटणीबाई;
कधी घरंदाज लसूण-खोबर , कधी पारंपरिक पूड ,
कधी सिनेमातल्या हिरो सारखी दाणे चटणी ,
आणि हळूच मागून येऊन पुढे बसून
“हम काले है तो क्या हुआ, चवदार है !’
गाणारी आमसूल चटणी .
अचानक वाहात आलेला आंबटगोड
बोरांचा कायरस ,
ठसक्यात आपली जागा पकडणारी खमंग काकडी ,
आणि आपापसात कुजबुजणार्या चटण्या .
शुभदिनी पितांबर पिवळा रंग घेऊन आलेली ,
मिरची-कढीपत्ता-कोथिंबीर आलंकृत बटाट्याची भाजी,
आपले गतायुष्य विसरून चक्क छान मसाल्यात
रुळलेली खोबर कोथिंबीर युक्त मुगाची उसळ ,
आणि त्याच मुगांनी पावन केल्या पाण्यानी
नारळाच्या दुधाशी जमवून घेऊन ,
जिरे मिरचीने सजवून बनवलेले कळण.
यूरोप खंडात आशियाचा झेंडा व्यवस्थित रोवून
विश्रांतीत एक भारदस्त सुसंस्कृत श्रीखंड;
आणि लगबगीने “आलेच हं ” म्हणत
फुलणाऱ्या पुर्या ,
आणि शेगडीच्या तव्यावर श्वास घेणाऱ्या पोळ्या.
अचानक एक खमंग व्यक्तीचे आगमन ,
आणि शहाजिरे-दगडफूल प्रभुतीने कार्यरत केलेल्या
सुंदर सोनेरी मसालेभाताचे,
जुनी ओळख दाखवत वरणभाता शेजारी बसणे ;
“हो ग ! ते दोघे एकाच गावचे ना ! ” म्हणत
मेतकूटाने दह्यात पडणे,
आणि आला मिरची कांदापात लोकांना
येण्याचा आग्रह करणे .
रुचिरा राणीचे ह्या ताटाकडे कौतुकमिश्रित कटाक्ष ,
जेवायला आलेल्या मित्रमैत्रीणीनी
“माय केअर” साठी केलेली मदत .
उगीच आपलं वाटतं ,
६५ वर्षे राज्य करणाऱ्या राणी एलिझाबेथला
तिच्या समारंभात असे जेवण चाखायला मिळाले असते का ?
Handwritten and scanned invitations were sent out to our friends. Rajesh, has been a rock throughout this journey. Had it not been for his support and encouragement, I doubt, I could have learned my cooking this passionately! When we were newly married, the poor thing had to deal with my awful cooking! I recall serving him saadha varna without the usual turmeric, asafoetida and forcing him to eat it(I even made him believe it was the way we serve at my mother’s place). He rolled out the polya for me and cooked khichadi when I sobbed because I couldn’t cook them as Aai would do it. I recall my in-laws visiting us once in Pune. I got hold of frenchbeans and started breaking them into pieces(because I roughly remembered aai breaking Gawaar, and thought I should follow suit). My father-in-law took pity on me and stepped in to correct me and asked me to use a knife to chop! Here is a scan of the lovely invitations he made for our guests!
We purchased 50 microwaveable plates for those who wished to takeaway meals and I sent out messages to my friends to procure steel chya taatlya(plates). The meal needed serving in a large taat unlike the plastic or the porcelain plates normally used in our homes. I am extremely fortunate to have so many of my dear friends stepping ahead to help me. I managed to collect about 40 steel taat thanks to the generous friends around. Few even had enough vaatya at home!! Ah! I thought Shrikhand/Kalan will surely love sitting in those!
Shopping that was all the more exciting. To mention frankly, I enjoyed it as much any picnic! My shopping bag had the notepad with the list. Inspite of the list well placed in the bag, I made sure I had photographed the list on my mobile phone and watsapped it to R! No way, I could risk losing the list or missing out anything mentioned in it.
Deshpandes’ 2, in our town had humongous vessels for this particular task and they were so kind to lend them to me!! R and I picked them up on the 15th April.
Our first trip to the Asian store was on the 16th April which happened to the Bank Holiday weekend. Just as we neared Southall(this is after good 40 mins drive away from home)…we realised that most of the shops were shut! There was no way we could afford to revisit this far in the coming week as I had so many things lined up for the main day. Just as we feared Quality Food was shut!! I could have kicked myself for not thinking about this(although I had checked the shop’s website for the opening and closing times…although I did not think they may not update the Bank Holiday times)! Just as we drove past the shop, we saw a Cash and Carry Asian store. Thank goodness for that!! We could pick up all the things in the list. At least the visit was not all in vain.
The preps began on Monday that week. We made pohyache paapad and saabudanyachya kurdaya. Oh! For a dehydrator! I thought I will wait until the end of the week to check their status. Every evening, I fried a sample to check. The weather started getting cooler and did not help these dry well. Khadkhadeet drying is the term in Marathi to make them eligible to serve! I turned to Damles’ for the ready kurdaya as a respite!! Just in case the homemade ones were not sundried enough to be served on the day.
Our gazebo went up in the backyard that evening! It was a great feeling to see things shaping up so well.
I woke up early to have my cuppa in the gazebo.
I thought we had enough bags of peanuts in our pantry. Hence had not picked them on Sunday when we visited the shops. But I was wrong again. Not a good start, I said to myself. I thought I was well organised! I called up R to inform him and requested him to buy peanuts when shops that evening from a small Asian store in the town he works. He had plans to buy curry leaves and other herbs which we could not get on Sunday. That means, I cannot tick off one job I had in my list I mentioned to him. R assured me not to worry and work on the next thing in the list. Next thing for sure I started working on. I had enough danyachi chutney(peanuts chutney), kaaral, jawas and pud chutney . The dry phutanyachi chutney saw the light in our kitchen. I checked my kitchen Barni for peanuts. Normally, I have a stock in the kitchen to last a month and the rest goes in the pantry in our backyard. It possibly was enough to make daanyache koot for koshimbeer, dahyatle metkut I planned. In went the peanuts in the large wok for roasting. And before lunch, I had cooled the roasted peanuts, ground them and packed them in a jar. Good 2kg of peanuts done and dusted with!! Metkoot stock was good enough for the menu planned too!! Next it was the pickles I needed to check. Limbache lonche I though would go well than ghol limbu. Hence kept it aside for the day.
A happy soul I was , to tick off the things that day. I went to work with the joys of achievements for the day. I was all set to tell R about the things sorted that evening. When we reached home, it was wafting of fresh peanuts roasting! I thought it must be from that morning. Rajesh smiled at me. That was a smile he normally puts on his face when he has done something to surprise me. Now the only way I could find out was go in the kitchen and find out. The last time he surprised me was when he rolled out puran polya (stuffed flat breads which requires a lot of patience, time and efforts to make) while I was at work! And they were brilliant!! This time though, he had roasted a 2kg pack of peanuts!! I had obviously forgotten to update him of al the things sorted out during the day. Both of us shared a good laugh that evening!! Lesson we learnt was to update each other with the things ticked off in the list.
Yogurt was hung to drain the excess water. I was surprised to see the amount of water draining off! 12kg of yogurt reducing to a wee heap of a few kilograms will not serve the purpose we thought! Off went R to fetch another 5kg to add. The second batch hung up on Thursday was good enough to make the amount of shrikhand we planned.
Pedhe pops and shrikhand was all set!!
Borache kairas and amsul chutney prepared and packed away in the fridge. I was pretty sure these two will be loved by the guests. So excited was I during the whole experience that I forgot about my poorly left arm. By this time, I could feel it was not strong enough to hold vessels. At least it was not aching! Just when I was blending the chutney , it blew the lid off the blender pot! I should have used my right hand to hold on to the lid! The chutney has now left marks on the kitchen wall which R and I painted last year!!
DSS came as an angel that evening to help us with the chopping! She chopped(chochne) a bucketful of cucumbers for good 2 hrs! Hats off to her patience!!
I wished to limit myself to the cooking technology involved during Ogale bai’s time. We were unfortunate though as the weather was unpredictable during the week and it was not holding up and it was not worth a risk to cook outside on the shegdi I had in my mind. It was very chilly outside. So cooking on the regular gas range was what we decided finally.
I had asked R to get AmbeMohor rice when he visited Pune last. Masale Bhaat with AmbeMohor would be brilliant! I had forgotten in that excitement that it was a batch from the new harvest. I soaked two batches of 2kg each. So after a good soak after an hour and the double the water added to the first batch what I cooked was a mushy rice!! There was no way I could serve that! So the second batch was resting in water for some other purpose while I used another two kilograms of rice to cook a proper al dante ambemohor good to make masale bhaat .
Kalan, Bhaaji, Usal and koshimbeer were all set! So was Dahyatle metkut . And a beautiful message from Shubhada Mavshi on Facebook. She was with me through this journey and so was Sulabha and Sushama Mavshi. Shubhada mavshi even shared the photographs she had. Those were clicked when Late Ogale bai had visited Australia with her husband and she conducted the cooking worshops! Such happy faces they were!! And yes today, I have a happy face too. I had so many girls messaging me once they purchased Ruchira and mentioning ” Ata amhi dekhil Ruchiratun swaypak banavnar!” I am happy to have connected to so many out there through Ruchira. One generation had so many memories about Ogale bai and her cookery lessons that they were so lucky to attend, while the other generation conveyed how they were given this cookery Geeta when they either got married or moved away from home. So many of the ladies mentioned about the tattered Ruchira which either their mother, mavshi, atya or kaku still used and how they wish they owned it! I feel blessed !
Nawales’ were so kind to send chapaatis for the day. Inspite of the chapaatis’, we had puris’ in plan. It gives me immense pleasure to recall that we had to knead fresh dough at least 4 times that afternoon! Puris were high flyers!! I thank my stars for the friends who joined in the kitchen to roll and fry the puris’ and ovyachi bhaji.
The best will be to go through the pictures on my Facebook page Ruchira Videshini.
The thaali is the only photograph I had through a very dear friend Amit Sangekar, an ardent foodie. Follow him on instagram @sangoams77! His insta feed can make anyone hungry at any point of the day!!
During this journey we were not on our own. We were met with a bunch of food appreciators and Samaritans. Manjiri and Abhay Joshi from Maya CARE conceived a dream to assist senior citizens. This organization offers a range of outdoor services for senior citizens delivered by a team of women professionals and volunteers. Maya CARE aims to benefit two sections of society – senior citizens who do not get trustworthy services. Today when many struggle to meet the demands of an active work life and the wish to be available to care for their family members. Maya CARE offers services to senior citizens (currently in Mumbai and Pune and then other cities) while their children are away on short-term/long-term assignments.
We are so happy to have had the opportunity to raise awareness about Maya CARE and some funds for the cause. Abhay drove for couple of hours to and fro on the day!! Our guests were so happy to have met him and get an insight into Maya CARE. Man’s true wealth is the good he does in the world! Truly Manjiri and Abhay are true Samaritans for us all, especially for those who live away from our parents. Abhay spoke about the different logistics involved in continuing the work and all the challenges they face. In spite of all the hardships, they keep striving towards their goal. We are very happy to have been a small support to this cause. Thanks to all our guests who stepped in to make this possible.
Amongst the food appreciators, we had the Director and the co-writer of a Food fiction “Shank’s”. This is a beautiful documentary I must mention which is a must watch. It is about an Indian chef goes against all odds to open a restaurant of a lesser known Marathi cuisine outside India. Ashay Jawadekar and Gautam Pangu from Not Just Entertainment, joined us virtually all the way from USA in order to interact with the guests. It is our priviledge to have had them to speak about Marathi cuisine and their vision about it. We had a very good discussion about our perspectives regarding this cuisine which could reach the wider community. Many of our guests who had watched the trailer on facebook were in fact under the impression that Shank’s actually is a restaurant in USA. We discussed the need of making Marathi cuisine known to the world. Everyone who were a part of the discussion left with a beautiful vision of globalising Marathi food. If you are in UK, the film is available on Amazon to watch. I have watched it twice till now and love revisiting my favourite parts of the film every day. The illustrations, the story around the chef, the content the director and the writer wish to convey, gives one an enriching experience. It will be a shame to miss out watching it!!
Shank’s is a well-researched fictional documentation. What connected more was the fact that everything was a la mode without stepping out of the traditional framework of Marathi Cuisine. Pauleen’s character is very inspiring who could visualise both ends of the global food platform. The director and the writer have done a great job at creating the characters to unleash new perspectives and spark a debate on the facts about Marathi Cuisine. Very well researched subject!! Amazing presentation of the story line!! The dishes were shot very realistically!! Use of different metaphors in life of the main character makes the movie an enriching experience. Kudos to the Shank’s Team! No wonder it has been chosen as a finalist in the Food Film Festival in Italy. Many congratulations to the Team and I am sure there is a wonderful news awaited for them on the Award ceremony night!! Stay tuned!!
Aathavan, memories from Maharashtra is an attempt to revive all the memories in creative form. This is a venture which my sister and I started in India. Aathavan gave away pedhe pops to celebrate the occasion!
It has been a busy month with loads happening at our end. I am glad that we could all get to the culmination of this beautiful journey. This is when I recall… had nudged myself in the kitchen at my in-law’s in order to cook the traditional spread, draped in a nauwaar. On 23rd April 2017, I draped myself in a traditional nine yard saree to cook a storm for my lovely guests at the luncheon! My journey cooking and clicking through the book is on the Facebook Page and on this blog too.