Two New Poems


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1. SOLITUDE

I linger unperceived
in the labyrinth of solitude,
not knowing the onward path
or the path of my return
I see a flight of stairs
a portal to a past forgotten
the contours of shadows
create a landscape of dreams
something forgotten stirs,
a lost memory returns
from between somewhere and nowhere
seeking something nebulous
that is always out of reach

 

Copyright Tikuli

2. INSOMNIA 

two a.m. on Delhi’s post-rain Sunday
I try to wash away the sleepiness
from my insomnia laden eyes
pick a fresh sheet of paper
spread clean water till it sheens
like fresh snow on a sunny day
clean and load the brushes with colours
drop and watch in wonderment
as the colours bleed and waltz
into the white stillness
the ripe colours of autumn,
a drop of sea, the harvest fields,
the washes of sunsets layer after layer
and a moon laid on lake waters
a tender breath of green
a river filled with apparitions,
here now—then gone
wet roads winding around echoing hills
the crisp autumn breeze
floating across the valley
steam rising from a coffee left at the deck
my eyes closed I feel the calm glow
of lights at the water edge
the silent shadows
the peace of the submerged river banks
I dip my brush again as the pigeons rise
followed by the squirrel
and the upstairs neighbour
pounding fresh ginger for morning chai
the trees rise, the day rises
night slowly walks towards summer morning

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एक शहर ये भी – कविता 7 – रात आईना है …


 

रात आईना है इस शहर की बेख्वाब आँखों का
शाम ढले जब धुप का आखरी उजाला
पेड़ों की टहनियों में सिमट जाता हैं तो ये शहर
किसी पेंटिंग की तरह रहस्मयी हो जाता है
बची खुची रौशनी लैम्पोस्ट के नीचे
सिमट जाती है और समय अँधेरे कोनों
या भूले बिसरे हाशियों में छिप जाता है
सूखे ठूँठ सी खड़ी इमारतें अपननी थकी आखें
बंद किये अँधेरा ओढ़ अचेत सी सो जाती हैं
और फिर उभरने लगते हैं अक्स उस दिल्ली के
जो दिन में अपनी तन्हाई समेटे ताकती रहती है
टुकड़ों में बंटे एक अजनबी से आसमान को
शहर की इन बिखरी सड़कोंऔर सुनसान
चौराहों पे मैं भी इन्हीं अक्सों में ढूढ़ता हूँ अपना
खोया हुआ वो अक्स जो अपना सा तो है पर
है फिर भी बेगाना, ढिबरियों सी टिमटिमाती
रौशनी में आता है नज़र आता है स्लेटी खंडहरों के
खूँट पे टंगा तनहा सा इक शहर उतार फेंका था
कभी जिसे और आती है नज़र एक सांवली सी नदी
राह भूली बाँवरी सी, पेड़ तोड़ देते हैं क़तारें
स्याह सड़कों के किनारे, चहचहाते डोलते हैं
पंख सी बाहें पसारे, सप्तपर्णी सी महक
उठती है हवा, रात में ही सांस लेता है शहर
थकन की चादर बिछा कर, फ़िक्र ज़माने की छोड़
है कोई सो रहा वो देखो चाँदनी को ओढ़
कुछ ख्वाब औंधे हैं पड़े उस पुराने बरगद परे
गीत कोई गा रहा है याद के पनघट ख़ड़े
सड़क किनारे बैठ पी रहा है कोई ख्वाबों की चिलम,
उठ रहा है धुआं सुलगते आलाव से कहीं
लिए सोंधी सी महक एक गुज़ारे वक़्त की
दिन की दमकती जिल्द में क़ैद सफहों से
झांकते हैं सूखे हुए लम्हे, कुछ भूले हुए
रुकए और मिटटी के सकोरों सी बिखरी
हुयी कुछ यादें, रात आईना है उन्हीं तवारीख़
के टुकड़ों का, तुम भी कभी खाँचो में बंटे उजालों से निकल
थाम लेना स्याह सा कोई इक छोर और फिर मिलना
उस दिल्ली से जो कभी हमारी थी

 

Poetry Prompts With Kaafiya


I am working on some poems and a few other things so not very regular here. Today while going through my drafts I realized I had not shared these poems with you.

Kaafiya had a Rhyme along with Adil Jussawalla poetry prompt session on their FB page as part of their #KaafiyaMilao series in May 2017. The Poem I submitted was among the four winning poems selected by their editorial team.

The Prompt was from his beautiful poem Turning Seventy  You can read his poem by clicking on the link.
Prompt – “My body is a pile of papers left behind on a bench.”

Here’s my poem :

 

 

There was another poetry prompt last year in April with poet / Writer Abha Iyengar. The prompt was a line from her favorite poem. Here is Abha’s poem which I copied from Kaafiya page .

Prompt-

Two poems
And a conversation

Poem-

What we have is
A table.
Two poems.

And a conversation
That neither of us began.

But as we speak the lines
We say everything in between.
We spill
Over the distance of the table
That separates us.

We move our legs back
Under and behind our chairs
Scared of touching
That which lies
beneath the lines.
Knowing that we will overflow
Over and above
The table
Knocking it over
Sometime
Anytime
Even as our bodies strain
To keep back
All that drives us forward.
Two poems
And a conversation.

 

And here is my poem that got selected along with four others.

This what Abha had to say about the poem,” “Tikuli talks of how an innocent outpouring of the heart into poems, and the doubts and assumptions that riddle a married life or a relationship bring an end to everything.”

This poem is also a part of my new book ‘Wayfaring‘ . I did a few changes to it before publishing  and I am grateful to Abha for allowing me to include it in the collection.  The book is available with all online book vendors worldwide so please go order your copy today.

Do look up the Kaafiya Page and follow them on Twitter to participate in their weekly prompts and other good things they do.

I will be sharing a few important posts soon. Just getting into the rhyme and rhythm of things around me.

Stay with me here and keep sharing your valuable feedback.

 

Art, Poetry And Conversations


Many of my readers asked me why I have stopped posting poems and short fiction on blog and if I was making this a food blog. The answer is, No. It is true that I post a lot of recipes these days and that is because I send most of my poems as submissions. Almost all magazines accept fresh work so I can not post them here. As for short fiction, I am not writing any these days.

I am trying to take charge of the life I left behind and really working hard to get out of the vicious circle of anxiety, depression, fear and worry. It is a hard task for me but I am making those lifestyle changes that I can to be emotionally and mentally well. We will soon talk about that in another post.

One of the things that I found really therapeutic is art. This is the first of the Warli art pieces I did. Warli painting is a form of folk art from Maharashtra. Traditionally drawn by the tribal women belonging to Warli and Malkhar koli tribes.

Warli Art

I did some digital art and a few acrylic on canvas but never seriously pursued it. Since last few months I began to draw, color, paint and experiment with various mediums and art forms. I have not shared them here but you can view them on my Instagram page  . It started when a very dear friend began to share her Madhubani art. I was fascinated and asked her how she did those. Then through a lot of research on line and after watching videos on YouTube I made some and shared with friends. I found the process very calming so looked further and discovered Warli. A new window opened for me and in those dark hours of desperation I would immerse myself in those intricate  patterns and figures but something was still waiting to be discovered. My elder son is a fantastic artist and he’s been doing water colors lately. Now, I painted with water colors in middle school so it’s been 35+ years or so but the thought of dipping my fingers in color again was too tempting that I bought myself some paint, sketchbook, micro pens and brushes.  Adi was very encouraging and it gave me real boost to launch forth and just do something that would make me happy.

Again a proper research on techniques etc began and this time on Instagram too. For days I just watched wonder eyes the images emerge on the white sheets of papers, canvases etc. I was thrilled.

After a few failed attempts I am now beginning to get the hang of it. There is nothing more therapeutic than doing something you love. Art like writing has made me stronger though I still slip down and get those panic attacks now and then.

I am very happy to have finally found my linchpin.

Meanwhile two poems got published it my favorite magazine Cafe Dissensus. Always happy to find a place in this fabulous magazine. This is my first submission after the release of Wayfaring.

Here’s an excerpt from one of  the poems :

“the river hears her hurried footsteps
with rapt attention, at its bend
under the shade of the mangroves,
a boat and a promise patiently wait
ready to carry her away.”

You can the poems HERE.

Wayfaring is very special to for many reasons and if you haven’t got your copy yet please do. I would love your feedback. The book is available with all online book vendors worldwide including Amazon.

Here is an excerpt from a recent review that got published in The Sunflower Collective .

Poet/Journalist Abhimanyu Kumar says,

” Organised in seven sections, the poems cover a wide range of emotions and experiences. The book opens with the section called Trains. The poems included in this section set the tone for the rest of the book, in a sense.”

Do read the full review.

Blogging is still my first love and many of you know that I won the Indian Blogger Award for poetry recently. I finally got my certificate from Indiblogger and here it is. Makes me so proud of my journey as a blogger/writer/poet. Now you can call me an award winning blogger 😀

The Indian Blogger Awards IBA2017 were announced at BNLF and Valley of Words International Literature and Art Festival, Dehradun in Nov, 2017

I won the special VOW award for poetry and got my certificate today. The Google Chromecast was received by an author friend on my behalf on the day of the ceremony.

I’m humbled by this recognition. Thank you team IndiBlogger, jury members and all those who appreciated my work and still do.

It’s been a great journey so far.  My second book is being read and appreciated world over. Some poems from the books were read by Poet Dominic Albanese in Open Mic in Florida where he stays. A much awaited review is coming up soon and some more publishing news is awaited.

I will be starting the Monday Memories series again and try to be regular here so keep visiting and do please leave your feedback in comments.

Let’s hope it rains soon till then I am watching the changing color palette of the sky.

Travel Tales – Of Wild fruits and Pink Lotuses


Recently I took a short weekend trip to the mountains. The idea was to simply get away from the scorching heat and the pressures of city life. After a lot of research we settled for Bhimtal, Uttarakhand and we took off early morning in a friend’s car. Summer is a bad time to visit any of these tourist destinations and I would have preferred a quieter offbeat place at this time but the time constraint and other factors made it impossible. So, as it is with every road trip there were old songs and conversations, reminiscence of  good ol’ days and dhaba food as we drove to our destination.

We made our first stop at Gajraula for a late breakfast or rather brunch of Hot aalu parathas, curd, pickle and kulhar tea. The place had good washrooms as the huge signboard declared. You can read about the entire route in my previous post HERE . We again stopped for tea at New Amritsariyan Da Dhaba just for sentimental reasons. The place isn’t the same since the old sardar ji passed away. One can see the next generation halfheartedly carrying out their duty. Though the food is still better than many places. The dhaba is very close to Rudrapur.

We reached Bhintal late in the afternoon but the Airbnb homestay we had booked took away all our tiredness.

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This property owned by Sanjay and Ekta is nestled among the Pine, Oak and a few fruit trees very close to the lake. They started this venture for the love of travel and food last year.  I had booked The Woods on a recommendation from a FB friend Kalyani Mirajkar who runs a beautiful eco-friendly Bhimtal Birdsong Cafe just a little further away down the road.

The two member staff was exceptionally helpful and immediately arranged for some lip smacking homely food for us even though we had reached past the lunch time. Good food always wins my heart.  Himanshu needs special mention for this and for guiding us about local places. Despite heavy rain and other demands we always found him smiling and eager to help. The property had all the amenities and the beautiful deck overlooked the lake. It was raining and I found the setting extremely beautiful as we sipped our excellent chai and munched on hot bhajias. We could see the lake from our room window too. 

The rain drenched Bhimtal lake

The approach road is slightly steep but in good condition. We were given clear directions by the owner who was very gracious and helpful at all times.

I also visited Kalyani’s Birdsong cafe but unfortunately could not eat the fantastic Kumaoni thali the cafe offers among other things. The little cafe is tastefully done and is surrounded by pear trees. She also grows some vegetables and one can always see the place full of seasonal flowers. I recommend both these places to everyone travelling to Bhimtal. 

Another gorgeous property is The Retreat owned by Paddy Smetacek. It was booked when we contacted Paddy but she was extremely helpful and I totally love the work she and her family are doing there for local women and environment apart from running such a lovely place.

Let me completely the food story before coming to the two lovely surprises that awaited me.

On our way to Sattal we stopped at I Heart Cafe Himalayas. It was wonderful to meet Liz again and savor the delicacies she and her team makes. I will do a separate post on it in a few days. Don’t miss the place in Mehra Estate on Bhowali Road if you are in that area. The cafe is what I would have loved to owned in a quaint hill station.

You can read about the three lakes of this area in my post HERE. Not much had changed since we came here two years ago except that the otherwise quiet Naukuchiatal had a lot of water activities going on this time. It was a real heartbreak to see these beautiful places slowly losing their natural charm to these touristy activities. Sattal had already succumb to huge crowds, noise and eateries that have mushroomed at the lakeside.

 

What caught my eyes were local vendors selling the summer fruits. I was elated to see kafal, hisalu, small local yellow and orange apricots, the tiny babbugoshas (a pear variety), peaches and the deliciously juicy plums. Some other wild fruits that I remember from the past are bedu, ghigharu, kirmoli etc. but one doesn’t see much of them these days.

While the others enjoyed the scenic view of the lake waters I decided to gorge on these.

The Kumaon and Garhwal region of  Uttarakhand are known for these awesome local wild fruits. Many of them have medicinal values too.

The sweet and sour Kafal or Kaafal is called Bayberry in English and is a drupe. Considered as the king of wild fruits in Uttaranchal it matures in month of April to June. Kafal resembles the raspberry but has a big seed and thin layer of flesh. Mostly its eaten with rock salt and red chilly. We also make sharbat from them just like the phalsa sharbat. Slightly acidic in taste it has a high amount of Vitamin C. Mostly the fruit is grown between the altitude of 100-2000 meters above the sea level  in the foothills of Himalayas and has a very short shelf life. It also indicates the change of season. In local kumaoni language this fruit is called kaafo and is celebrated with beautiful songs and stories unlike any other in the region. The vendor was selling 10/- a cone and I saw many kids happily sucking on them near the lake. I ate them after a gap of many years so it was a real treat. I came to know that it is also found in Nepal. A poet friend from Shillong told me it’s called Soh phi in the Khasi Hills.

I was telling the couple friend we had gone with about these fruits and wondered if we would be lucky enough to savor the other fruits too and we were. At Sattal I saw some vendors selling Hisalu. I had not seen them since so long. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes as the season for these berries was about to end. I bought a few cones to relive the memories of those simple pleasures of my youth.

 

Soft and tangy Hisalu is also known as the Golden Himalayan raspberry or the yellow Himalayan Raspberry. These are the actual “Organic” fruits. Straight from the trees. These little berries used to be the source of energy to the travelers going uphill in olden days. The fruit is juicy and very flavorful. It is difficult to describe its taste as it unique to the berry. People make jam from it just like the raspberries. It usually ripens from in March-April and perishes very quickly after being plucked. An old friend from Rawalpindi told me that he found some of these fruits during an off track hike on Margallah hills a few years ago. So many stories came up when I shared the pix earlier on FB and Instagram.

I also happily snacked on the locally grown small and juicy plums, apricots and peaches. I saw a few fruit laden trees in the villages but we were on the move so couldn’t take photographs.

The Woods, where we were staying, had pear trees but the fruits were yet to ripen.

A monkey brigade one day decided to indulge themselves on the deck facing the lake and the staff had to drive them off with sticks. Unafraid these moneys have become a menace since the langoor money population has dwindled. The two don’t see eye to eye.

There was a Timla (Ficus auriculata) also called Elephant fig or wild fig tree right opposite the property but the fruit was unripe too. Timla produces a unique fruit which is actually an inverted flower. It is an important fruit in the hills and has medicinal benefits too.

The I Heart Cafe had a Lychee trees along with pomegranate, figs, pear, guava, apples etc.

I

I saw some unripe lychees on the magnificent that looking tree in one corner and couldn’t resist to click a photograph. There were also some gorgeous Hydrangeas spreading a riot of colors in their soothing green back garden. Here’s a favorite

The other juicy treat were the tiny babbugosha pears we picked from the local hawkers. Absolutely divine in taste. One can never eat enough of these luscious fruits.

A friend who was visiting Sattal at the same time managed to get hold of these very rare berries. I asked around for some information about them but couldn’t find any.

I had eaten these way back and never bothered to ask the name. Paddy Smetacek told me that these are quite rare Gyuwaaien which used to grow in her forest but disappeared from there. She is trying to grow them again. I have used this photograph with permission from Nandini Rathore. Both the photographs ( one here and the other in the link) are credited rightfully to her.

After a long research via FB, Google search and WhatsApp to experts I found that this particular berry is indeed Giwain in local vernacular. It’s botanical name is Elaeagnus angustifolia Linn. The berry has many medicinal benefits and the carotenoid, lycopene content in these is sometimes seven to seventeen times higher than that of tomatoes. It is known for its anti inflammatory, analgesic,antimutagenic and antioxidant properties.

It is also known as Russian olive or Japanese Olive as someone mentioned. It is a shrub found in mid hills. The fruit is eaten raw or ripe.

As if the joy of relishing these fruits wasn’t enough. To my surprise Kamal Tal or the Lotus Pond was flooded with pink water lilies or gulabi kamal. The sight was breathtaking.

On our last visit the taal was in bad condition but this time it looked clean and well maintained. The boat we saw last time had sunk in the midst of lily pads. You can see its edges in the photograph.

Kamal taal is located in one corner of the Naukuchiatal. Enjoy some of the photographs from there. Some people compare them to the lotuses that bloom in Mansarovar lake. It seemed like Monet’s painting The Lily Pad. The photographs don’t really do justice as I have a not so good phone camera.

We had a plan to visit some other places beyond these lakes but due to heavy tourist inflow, traffic snarls, rain and a fair at the Kainchi Dham we decided to return early.

As we still had a whole day to us we decided to take the longer yet scenic route via Corbett National Park ( Corbett Tiger Reserve). We stopped at the Corbett Museum and spent some time remembering the childhood favorite, the legendary hunter turned environmentalist Jim Corbett. The museum was one of his homes. The other one is in Nainital. Beautifully located in Kaladungi, Choti Haldwani it is surrounded by a lush green compound that has a souvenir shop in one corner near the entrance. I will do a separate post about this place.

The heat of summer was catching up as we hit the plains so after lingering for a while we headed back to Delhi via Bazpur, Kasipur – Moradabad route. We stopped at Bazpur, Udhampur for a delicious meal at  Gill Brother Dhaba. This is a longer route but has less traffic and is scenic too.

There were some things that got left undone. Perhaps I may plan to trip again when the trees get laden with apples and the sunsets become more breathtaking over the snow clad mountains. Some time needs to be spent with a few friends who live in this region and in the next trip I just night do it

For now I am back in Delhi and the grind of daily life in the city where summer has taken a permanent refuge. My eyes are glued to the skies for the monsoon rains.

Meanwhile I am painting with water colors and other stuff to add some color to the mundane gray that is lingering like mist somewhere between the seen and unseen.

I have some poetry news and other things to share too. Stay tuned.

 

 

Peach Lemonade & Peach Iced Tea


 

I love fruit iced teas and make a lot of variations. Any over ripe or bruised fruit goes into these delicious summer drinks. We sometimes make fruity cocktails too.

Years ago on one hot summer day after being knackered by housework and my crazy kids I just mashed one of the overripe peaches and added it to a big glass of chilled lemonade (not the usual shikanji with kala namak etc. This was sweet one). No one was willing to eat this orphaned peach and I wasn’t in mood for iced tea.

The lemonade tasted different and nice but not what I was looking for.  Many days later while making peach compote I added the warm sugary muddled peach pulp to the lemonade. It turned out absolutely divine and thus began my love for fruity lemonades. I then experimented with many fruits and till now these remain my favorite over the plain lemonade. Who said lemonades were only about lemons.

I had added sugar to that one but later I didn’t feel the need or the urge to sweeten the drink with added sugar. As I often used organic honey to make the lemonade. Adding it to the simply muddled warm peaches seemed a good idea. I evolved the recipe and made it differently many times with ginger and mint, with basil, with vodka and gin, with sugar instead of honey, blended or with chucks of peaches in it. I even froze lemonade in ice cube trays with soft peach pulp in it and added those to the pitcher. Sometimes adding the preferred alcohol to it.  Each tasted differently. My favorite is with soft muddled peach pulp along with some peach and lemon wedges. Simple and refreshing. Too many flavors mar the drink.

Here’s how I made it. There are two ways to do it and I will tell you both.

Ingredients :

2-3 large ripe juicy peaches

4 cups water

1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 inch Fresh Ginger Slice (crushed)

Few Fresh mint leaves muddled

2-3 tablespoon Organic Honey

Peach slices and lemon wedges to add to lemonade and to garnish

Steps – 

Method 1 :

Wash and cut the peaches in small pieces with the skin on. Discard the stone.

In a pan add those pieces and simmer on medium flame stirring constantly. When they become soft lightly press them gently with the back of the spoon and take them out in a bowl. Once they cool add honey and mix well. Keep the mix in the fridge for chilling.

Meanwhile, make lemonade by mixing lemon juice, ginger, mint and cold water.

Add the chilled peach pulp to the lemonade and throw in some slender peach slices and lemon wedges.

Keep the lemonade in fridge so it chills well. I avoid adding ice for it dilutes the drink. Sometimes I make ice cubes from the same lemonade and add those.

You can put it in the freezer for sometime and then crush it to make the drink super chilled. Spoon in some peach pulp in the glasses when you serve. You can make it as a slushie too.

You can keep the peach pulp for a day more in case you wish to make peach iced tea like I did.

There was some cold brew iced tea remaining from day before and added some of the pulp to that. I let it seep in the fridge while enjoying my peach lemonade. The resting gave a nice flavor to the tea and we had it later in the day.

Method 2 :

In a bowl add peach pieces and sugar. Mix and let it sit for some time. Heat a thick bottom pan and add the peach sugar mix. Keep the flame medium low and stir till the mixture becomes pulpy. Remove from heat and cool. Blend it in a mixer or blender and add to the lemonade. You can also bring to boil peaches, sugar and little water then cool and blend. Add this mix to a pitcher of cold water, add lemon juice , muddled mint etc and serve chilled. Use two cups of water for the peach syrup and two cups to add later in the pitcher.

As I use honey I don’t boil the water but warming the peaches brings out some nice flavors.

For the tea I sometimes just roughly chop the peaches and tip into the cold brew tea. Sometimes I make the tea by adding hot water (not boiling) over tea leaves and then straining it to desired strength. I chill it and add the peach pulp, lemon juice, lemon wedges, peach slices to it.

See, how many different way are there to enjoy this fantastic homemade summer drink.

Do try the Peach lemonade and / or the peach Iced Tea and you’ll see how refreshing and amazing it is. You’ll never go for the synthetic one again.

Spiking 1 liter of lemonade  or Iced tea with 60-80 ml of alcohol is good way to make a tipsy version. It depends on your taste. I add a little less vodka than peach schnapps when making the alcohol version. These are my preferred choices but you can add whiskey or gin too. A good peach vodka goes well with both the iced tea and the lemonade.

Do let me know if you make any of the the two.

Cold Brew Iced Tea With Plum and Basil


 

Iced teas and coffees are simple summertime pleasures. I make a variety of Iced teas and Tisane every summer. You can find some recipes HERE. These are not cold brews though.

I am very fond of cold brewing as it is a gentler and slower and selective process of brewing than the hot brew and the subtle flavors of the tea leaves come out very well. I find them less acidic too. Another one is the Sun brewing where you keep the tea infusion outside in the sun and let the heat help in steeping. I have noticed that both ways the taste is different. Even the traditional hot brews and cold brews are chemically different from each other and taste different so do not compare them, instead enjoy them as different drinks.

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Cold Brew

For those of you who are not familiar with cold brew let me tell you how it is done. You take a tumbler, add tea leaves of your choice, add water, spices and herbs if desired and let it brew for 6-8 hours. The amount and quality of leaves and the time for steeping depends on which tea you are using and what strength you desire. Sometimes I use the infused leaves 3-4 times, enjoying the different consistency of flavors. At times I brew for 1-2 hours and it’s good to go.

You will have a lot of leeway when it comes to the proportions but I use the standard 4 tsp/1 liter ratio. Adding or reducing as per requirement. I usually steep the tea for 6-8 overs or overnight. Remember that you will need more tea leaves than you will need for a hot brew.

You can add spices like all spice, clove, cinnamon, star anise etc and herbs like lemon grass, mint, basil, thyme sprigs or rosemary sprigs to the infusion. I do them with fruits too. Peaches, plums, nectarines, kokum, mango, lemon, orange, various berries work beautifully with them. There are endless combinations you can explore.

You can freeze these teas to makes gorgeous slushies too and be adventurous to add some Vodka, Gin, Bourbon etc.

I recently went to the hills and got some lovely hand plucked small variety of plums.  Here’s how I made the Plum and Holy Basil infused Iced Tea with them

Unlike the usual way of  masticating plums with sugar or making a syrup with plums I prefer fresh fruit tipped into the iced tea. I also use the pulp of over ripe plums to add extra flavor.

Overripe and bruised plums work best with this tea and you can add a few slightly ripe but firm sour ones too.

Ingredients: 

4 tbsp Darjeeling Black Tea leaves or tea leaves of your choice

6 -8 Medium size Ripe Plums

2 tbsp Organic raw honey (optional)

1 liter water

1 tsp Lemon Juice

Lemon wedges

Few leaves of Holy Basil

Steps : 

Take 6 of the plums and remove all the pulp in a bowl. Discard the stone or pit. Add honey to the pulp and mix. Keep it in the fridge.

In a pitcher or tumbler add the tea leaves and basil leaves then top them with drinking water. Close the lid and let it seep overnight or for 6-8 hours.

When making the plum iced tea, strain the tea in a glass pitcher and add the pulp to it. Mix nicely. Test for sweetness. I prefer the fruity sweetness and don’t add too much of honey. I don’t use sugar but you can make a simple sugar syrup and add if needed. You can also mix a little hot water and honey to mix instead of mixing it in the fruit pulp. I like it that way,

Add lots of ice and slender wedges of plum along with lemon wedges. You can add a few plum and lemon wedges to the tea while brewing too. It gives an even more intense flavor. Before straining the tea leaves just take them out and add to the strained tea.

Use the tea leaves again if desired. I use this twice.  The green tea leaves I use at least 3 times.

Pour the tea in tall glasses with plum and lemon slices and the basil leaves. Keep a stirrer in each glass. You would love the deep dark plum slices and the soothing green basil leaves floating in the ruby red liquid.

Sip this delicious and refreshing fruity iced tea to battle the summer heat.

You can also freeze some of the Plum iced tea in ice cube tray and add that instead of normal ice cubes.

I froze some of the iced tea to make a super delicious slushie with intense flavors. Do try that too. I’m not a big fan of sorbet but you can go ahead and make that too.

Make these delicious fruity Iced teas this summer to stay hydrated the healthy, flavorful way.

Do leave a note if you make this.

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 6 – दिल्ली ६


आज युहीं पुरानी दिल्ली की उन जानी अनजानी
तंग गलियों में लौट जाने का मन हुआ
गलियां ऐसी की लखनऊ की भुलभुलैया
फीकी पड़ जाये, चांदनी चौक मेट्रो स्टेशन
से उतर हम भी हो लिए लोगों के उमड़ते
हुजूम के साथ, नयी दिल्ली का नक्शा
चाहे बदल गया हो यहाँ कुछ नहीं बदला
नूर से नहायी सहरी की सुबहें, इफ्तार
की पाकीज़ा शामें और जामा मस्जिद की
सीढ़ियों पे रेकॉर्डतोड़ गर्मी से बेपरवाह,
बेफ़िक़्र खेलते नन्हे रोज़दार जिन्हें
इंतज़ार है तो बसआने वाली ईद का
आसमां पे वही ढलते सूरज की लाली,
शाम ए इफ्तार की रंगत में सराबोर
बाज़ार, ख़ुशी से दमकते चेहरे,
मस्जिद से आती आज़ान की गूँज
दरगाह हज़रत सरमद शहीद
की जाली से बंधे लाल धागे में
लिपटी एक बाली और इबादत
की रौशनी से गुलज़ार मेरा मन
आज भी उर्दू बाज़ार से मटिआ महल
और चितली क़बर से हवेली आज़म खान
तक सिवइयों की खुशबू से महकती दुकानें
याद दिलाती हैं दोस्तों की वो अड्डेबाज़ी,
वो लौंग चुरी कबाब और कालना स्वीट्स
की पनीर जलेबी, वो लज़ीज़ निहारी कुलचे,
हाजी मोहम्मद अनवर की मिर्च मसाला बिरयानी,
कूल पॉइंट का शाही टुकड़ाऔर नवाब कुरैशी
का प्यार मोहब्बत मज़ा, वो तुम्हारा नज़रें बचा
फतेहपुरी मस्जिद से निकलना और तुम्हारे
इत्र की खुशबु से मेरी सांसों का महक जाना
मेरा तुम्हें चुपके से बालियाँ थमाना ओर
इसी बहाने तुम्हारे नाज़ुक हाथों का
छू जाना, गुड़ के शरबत सी मीठी
तुम्हारी हंसी, चूड़ियों की वो खनखनाहट
और चाट के तीखे मीठे सकोरों के बीच
कभी यूँही शरमा कर तुम्हारा मेरी बांहों में सिमट जाना
और ऐन मौके पर अशरफ चचा का बिज़ी हो जाना
जुगनुओं सी चमकती रात में जब हम आखिर जुदा होते
तो चचा अक्सर पैसे लेना भूल जाते, तुम नक़ाब ओढ़ना
और मैं घर का रस्ता भूल जाता
अब न तुम हो न फुर्सत के वो दिन रात है
और न ही वो दोस्त और न ही चचा जान
पर आज भी मैं शाहजानाबाद की इन रंगीनियों में
खिंचा चला आता हूँऔर यादों की मश्क़
कंधे पे उठाये यूँही हर नुक्कड़,
हर दर ओ दरवाज़े, हर झरोखे में

बस तुम्हें ढूढ़ता हूँ

इस कविता के बारे में कुछ कहना चाहूंगी | जयश्री शुक्ला से हमारी जानपहचान फेसबुक से हुई और ठोस ही समय में हम अच्छे दोस्त बन गए | जयश्री लाजवाब तस्वीरें खींचती हैं जो दिल्ली के हर रूप हर देखे अनदेखे पहलु से हमें रूबरू कराती हैं | आप उन्हें इंस्टाग्राम पर फॉलो कर सकते हैं. रमज़ान के इस पाक महीने में उनकी तस्वीरें देख मन उन्ही शाहजहानाबाद के गली कूचों में खो गया और कुछ यादें ताज़ा हो गयीं | कुछ फेर बदल कर इस कविता में हमने उन्हें ही संजोया है | इस इंस्पिरेशन के लिए जयश्री का तहे दिल से शुक्रिया |
अमिताभ मित्रा भी ऐसे ही हमारे एक कवी दोस्त हैं. पेशे से डॉक्टर हैं पर क्या खूब पेंटिंग करते हैं| कभी रंगों से तो कभी शब्दों से | कविता की दो लाइनें उनके एक अंग्रेजी कविता से प्रेरित हैं. तो उनका भी बहुत शुक्रिया |