Wordless Wednesday – 349


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Kinnow And Orange Marmalade Recipe


 

I like bitter marmalade to the moon and back. Thick cut, medium cut or thin cut, I love it both ways but I am a little particular about the sweetness part. I like my marmalade slightly more bitter. Fans of marmalade are very touchy about how the marmalade should look, taste. Some like it a bit soft, runny while others may prefer a perfectly set, some juice the fruit others chop it and use the pulp with rind, some prefer large, juicy chunky pot of gold while some like the slivers of sun in there bottle. Every texture has a taker who loves this deliciousness. There are hundreds of methods and each is right. I am sharing mine with you though each marmalade recipe is sentimentally personal. Always read the full recipe before starting off to make.

I have made this one with Kinnow and oranges. Both are selling in abundance right now and the fruits are packed with pectin so no artificial pectin added to this recipe. The pips, pith and skin rich in natural pectin will do the job.

Kinnow is basically a hybrid variety of two kinds of citrus cultivars – King (Citrus nobilis) and Willow Leaf (Citrus x deliciosa).cultivated throughout Northern India and even in other citrus growing states.This popular and delicious fruit is considered as one of the healthiest because of its health benefits but those you can Google. Kinnow fruit is juicy and has thicker pulp than oranges and even the pith is thicker. I find them perfect for marmalade. Here I used a few oranges too but didn’t use their peel as it was bruised. Also a twist in taste came with a hint of ginger juice. It gives such a kick to the marmalade I can’t tell you.

Preparing marmalade is a labor of love. It is one of those erotic kitchen romances. If you detest long drawn processes of preparations and cooking then this recipe is not for you. There is a certain joy in peeling oranges, making those slivers of the peel, scooping out the pulp or cutting the fruit with juice dripping all over, the slow cooking and then basking in the bitter sweet aroma of the orange nectar that will fill your home.

Here’s how you will make that magic happen: (I missed two process pix here. (Deleted them by mistake so sorry about that)

Ingredients:

Kinnow – 3

Oranges – 2 large (Total fruit pulp was about 1/2 kg or 500 gm)

Sugar – 800 gm (adjustable)

Juice of lemon – 2 tablespoon

Ginger juice – 1/2 tbsp (optional)

Water – 1 liter approx

Method : 

Wash, wipe and peel the fruit. Always buy firm, ripe fruit that is not bruised.

With a sharp knife scrap the pith from the peels and keep aside. Do the same with the peeled fruit. Remove all the white pith and pips. Collect it in a muslin cloth and tie in tightly to make a pouch.

Now, shred the peel into the desired length and thickness. I sliced into thin it into thin slivers for this batch. Keep it aside and chop the fleshy fruit fine. Some people juice the fruit and discard the pulp or cut the oranges with the rind into moon like slices but my marmalade is not translucent when made it is voluptuous to say the least with a strong citrus flavor and thick texture. The juicing gives a pale clear jelly like texture which you usually see in marmalade.

Meanwhile place a small steel plate in the freezer for the sheet test.

Once you have the pouch, the slivers of peel, the fleshy pulp all ready take a medium size pan and put the slivers of rind in it. Add enough water to cover the rind and boil for ten minutes. Turn off the flame and discard the water. Do it one more time. This is to ensure the correct bitterness needed for the recipe. Also, the rind will soften a bit. Once the sugar is added the rind doesn’t soften. This is what I learned.

Now, in a large thick bottom pan add, fruit pulp, water, sugar, ginger and the lemon juice.  Place the tightly secured pouch containing pips and pith in the mixture. Lemon is needed as pectin needs acid to set in. The amount of sugar depends how you lie your before adding he r marmalade and how sweet the oranges are. mine were very sweet and I like bitter taste. Warming the sugar cuts down the frothing which you need to skim to avoid clouding the final product.  1:2 fruit sugar ratio works fine. I added a little less as I prefer more bitter taste. You can adjust.

Cook the mixture on medium heat to dissolve the sugar properly then turn up the heat and bring the mixture to rolling boil. Let it cook for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to medium – low to let the mixture simmer. Cook it for 40-50 minutes stirring every 5 minutes so that e mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan or overflows. Keep skimming the froth.

Never ever press the pouch with the ladle. Let it just sit in the boiling mixture for some more time then gently remove it.

Once the liquid reduces pay more attention. You need to stop the cooking process at the right time – too early and you get a runny marmalade, too late and you get a sticky mass that won’t spread.

Do the sheet test for checking. Drop a little marmalade on the chilled plate and see if it flows or shows signs of jellying. I prefer not to wait for that stage. I like when it slowly slides when the plate is tilted. Once cool it will set nicely.

If it is too runny cook a little more if it hardens then your best bet is to boil a little water and add it to marmalade and heat a bit more till you get right texture.

Once done turn off the heat and let it become warm from hot. Stir it to distribute the peels evenly. Ladle it in clean glass or ceramic jars and close the lid tightly. My jar has vacuum tight so perfect for storing it.

So, here we have gorgeous sunny marmalade that has the perfect bitter sweet rich taste. Spread it on your morning toast as a wake up call to a bright sunny happy day.

 

Tip- If you want a clear marmalade you need to squeeze the peeled oranges in a jug and use the discarded pulp in the pectin pouch along with pip and pith. Use this juice with, water and shredded peels to make the marmalade. I will try to make a small batch and put up the method in a few days. 

You can use other citrus fruit too. The ratio of sugar, fruit and water will differ accordingly.

Delhi Monuments – Ambling Through Hauz Khas – Nili Masjid And Idgah Of Kharera


I’ve been missing in action here since a long time and that is because my laptop is giving issues and I have not been able to sort it so far. This Delhi monument post is part of my wanderings in Hauz Khas area. There are still a few more I will cover including those in adjacent Green Park.

Nili /Neeli Masjid 

Since so many years I passed the Nili Masjid of the Blue Mosque but never really went in there to explore. Located in A block the the tree bayed mosque is on the side of the road connecting August Kranti Marg and Aurobindo Marg. Sandwiched between posh houses  sometimes misses the eye unless of course it is prayer time or Friday when one can see a lot of devotees heading there for prayers. It is one of the few working mosques of Delhi which are under ASI protection.

An inscription over its central arch says that it  built in A.H. 911 (A.D. 1505-06) during the reign of Sikandar Lodi, by Kasumbhil, nurse of Fath Khan, son of Khan-i-Azam Masnad Ali Khawas Khan, then governor of Delhi. She is one of the few women who commissioned some beautiful structures in Delhi. Others include Hamida Bano Begum, Maham Anga, Roshanara Begum and Qudsia Begum.

Made from rubble stone and plaster Nili Masjid has rather masculine looking massive bastions and conical supporting towers along its western wall. No other major archaeological features are visible to make it different from other mosques or other medieval structures. This low fortification was suppose to protect them from any invasion but here it doesn’t serve the purpose. It is mainly for beautification it seems.

The mosque has slender turrets at the corners of the octagonal drum (base) on which a single dome sits pretty. There are three arched entrances to the masjid.

An intricate line of kanguras (battlement-like ornamentation) inset with vibrant blue tile work run along the roof of the mosque giving the mosque its name – Nili Masjid or Blue Mosque, however the ornamentation is only limited to the portion above the central facade.  A wide “chajja” (overhanging eave) supported on thick carved bracket runs on the rest of the front face.
Under the blue tiled Kanguras one can see elegant calligraphy and art work. The mosque is beautiful in its simplicity. There is no grandeur to it an yet it is striking to the eyes. Some areas inside the chamber have been recently plastered as part of the conservation program I think.
Within the boundary there is also a well that is covered and no longer in use. One can see loudspeakers etc places in the corners of the roof. One can see prayer mats, racks to keep things etc inside the chamber which is fitted with modern amenities like tube lights, fans and coolers. I wonder what are the rules for the monuments protected under ASI and why encroachments and making alteration is not stopped.
The grass covered front yard is nice and clean with some potted flowering plants and a few lush big trees that line the fence.
While I was wandering in the area I thought of going to Idgah too as it is a stone’s throw away from my son’s home.
Idgah of Kharera 
The 600 year old Idgah of kharera in Hauz Khas (near to Chor Minar in Padmini Enclave)  was used only for congregational Eid prayers unlike the other mosques. The structure represents the West wall around which people gathered for Id prayers. There is a mimbar or pulpit next to the central mehrab for the Imam to deliver his message. Usually a town or city will have one idgah but as Delhi was made of many cities there are four medieval Idgahs here.
Built of rubble masonry, this structure has 11 mehrabs and a turret at the end of one side with the inscription written on a red sandstone slab fixed on the south bastion towards east. It tells that this most famous and renowned mosque was built by Iqbal Khan who was popularly known as Mallu Khan, a powerful noble and virtually the ruler during Muhammad Tughluq’s reign who commissioned this structure. The inscription also tells about the volatile period in which it was built.
It is stated to have been built A.H. 807 (A.D. 1404-05) in the typical Tughlak style. I read somewhere that it was here Timur had set up his camp to offer ‘aman’ or ‘peace’ to the people after he invaded Delhi but unfortunately it didn’t go the way he had thought. Some incidents made him unleash unimaginable horrors on the citizens of Delhi.
The big trees in the fenced enclosure are home to many birds like barbets, peacoks, bulbuls etc. Local residents often come here for picnics and children can be seen playing there under the watchful eyes of the guard. Thankfully there are no encroachments and the monument is in good condition.
The stone slab that tells about the monument needs some attention and the writing is faded and hardly visible at many places.
I remember reading about mosque of Darwesh Shah in nearby Gautam Nagar and it is on my ‘to visit’ list. So are some of the lesser known small monuments around this area.
I am reading up about my city and will post again ina few days. Meanwhile I visited Sunder Nursery and was enchanted with it. Will do a post soon. You can still look up my Instagram account for some pictures from there.
Spring in Delhi is always beautiful so leaving you with some gorgeous flowers I saw there.

Delhi Monuments – Ambling Through Hauz Khas – Dadi Poti Tombs


This is in continuation from the previous post. Technically this tomb complex lies behind the Green Park metro station on Sri Aurobindo Road. Turn right just before Aurobindo market towards the road leading to Hauz Khas village to get there. I took a lane from Hauz Khas enclave to reach.

Dadi poti or Bibi Bandi tombs are situated amidst elevated ground surrounded by well maintained manicured lawns. The walkway to the larger Dadi (grandmother) tomb is lined with harsingaar/parijat hedges which were in full bloom when I went a few days ago. It was a sunny day and a lot of menfolk were either sitting or lying on the grass enjoying the warmth of the winter sun.I couldn’t spot any tourists though.

Delhi has a lot of these minor tombs and other structures with intriguing history. Two two tombs are a mystery to us in many ways. No one knows who is buried there though there are many legends that float about it. Both the tombs are made of rubble and plaster.

The larger tomb is typical Lodi era structure (1451-1526AD). It is perhaps the grandest tomb in that particular area. It’s 15.86 metres X 15.86 metres in dimension and its northern and southern walls have arched window like design and 2 levels of 4 arched niches each, giving it a double storey appearance.

A typical feature of many Lodi period tombs. Inside the tomb one can see exquisitely engraved Quaranic inscriptions in the form of medallions on the walls and ceiling.

The spacious interior has six unidentified cenotaphs made of stone which shows that the persons buried there were not royals but perhaps nobility.

The structure is square at the base but as the walls rise they get octagonal then hexagonal before they merge to form the dome. There are some tapering fluted pillars flanking the rectangular embossed facades on each of the sides along the tombs exteriors.  On either side of the eastern opening there is a staircase leading to the roof but it is out of bounds for the public.

The smaller and plainer tomb is about 20 feet to the side of the larger one. It is known as  the Poti Tomb. Most probably the names are given keeping in mind the size of the structure. Though this one is of Tughlaq era ( 1321-1414AD) and has slightly slopping walls and is 11.8 metres X 11.8 metres in dimension. The interesting aspect of this tomb is that unlike all the other tombs that have their entrances to the south and usually get more ornate designs on that side this one has a North facing entrance. The entrance has some ornate designs now blackened and faded with time.

Another unusual thing about this tomb is the lantern shaped structure on its dome. Something like a Rajputana Chatri. The interior is plain unlike its neighbor and has three unidentified graves.

Someone there told us that the place is haunted but looks beautiful when lit up at night but the interesting part was a natural phenomenon that occurs as the daylight fades to darkness. The interior of the larger tomb fills with various hues of light. I have yet to experience this and will try to get it recorded along  with the night photographs of the tombs.

Next on my list are Biran Ka Gumbad, Barah Khamba and Nili Masjid which I have crossed so many times but never entered for some reason.

Till then think about the rise and fall of this beloved city, its secrets and mysteries and of the people who made it what it is.

Wishing you all a very happy 2019. Stay strong. Stay Focused. 

 

Delhi Monuments – Ambling Through Deer Park & Hauz Khas – 1


It is a daunting task to write about the monuments of Delhi, their historical and architectural importance, about the city itself especially if your knowledge is limited. I have some books marked for reading this year but I love dilli and often wander into its lanes, bylanes, parks and ruins to get narrow the distance between what was and what is.

Hauz Khas ruins have always been a favorite destination but I never really got around to look at them from a blog post point of view. Hardly clicked photographs or wrote about them. The old monuments were more of a refuge when I wanted to escape from madding crowd. Deer park too was a runaway place where I could spend hours with myself without any intrusion.

Since Adi shifted to HK and my visits became more regular to the area I decided to list and visit all the  monument in HK and surrounding Green Park etc. The walks started with Chor Minar. You can read about it HERE.

The places on my list are:

Hauz Khas complex with The tomb of Ferozshah and other structures, Baag – i – Alam Gumbad and the walled mosque (Humayunpur), Kali GumtiBarah Khamba, Biran Ka Gumbad, Dadi Poti ka Maqbara, Choti Gumti, Sankari Gumti, Idgah of Kharehra, Nili masjid, Munda Gumbad, Hauz-i-Alai to start with.

I have covered a few  of these and will write about each in the coming days.

Deer Park Monuments – Baag – I – Alam Ka Gumbad and The Walled Mosque

Deer park was once known as Bagh -e- Alam ( ‘Garden of World’ ) and lay between Sultan Allauddin Khilji’s Siri fort and Hauz – i – Alai now popularly known as Hauz Khas Lake which was the largest man made water body of that time. Even the garden was the largest one built outside Khilji’s city known as commonly referred to as dar-ul-Khilafat later known as the city of Siri. Now the garden is limited to what we know as deer park and the lake is reduced to 1/5th of its original size.

Tucked in the thick vegetation of deer park are a few very important monuments and we started our exploration with he impressive BaghI i – Alam ka Gumbad and the Walled Mosque.

Bagh- e- Alam ka Gumbad is the largest of the three monuments in the deer park. It is an example of typical Lodi era architecture. The date of  its construction (1501)  is mentioned in a Persian inscription on a panel on the western wall. Delhi Gazetteer says the tomb is of a saint Shihab- ud -din Taj Khan. The panel also names the builder of the tomb as Abu Syed.

The monument is usually locked but I have heard it has a beautiful painted ceiling and tear drop patterns.

Surrounded by unruly vegetation and massive trees is this imposing structure with walled quibla or mosque on one side.  The facade of the monument gives a false impression of it being three- storey. Three sides of the monument have trabeated entrances barred with locked grill doors and the forth west one that faces Mecca has a mehrab recess characteristic of all the Lodi era structures. It is decorated with Quranic inscriptions.

Similarly like all Lodi era structures this too is built with locally quarried red and grey stone blocks intricately placed together to create a stunning patchwork. There are arched windows over the entrances. The entrances and the windows are set within a larger arched niche which is further placed in a rectangular frame projecting outwards through the wall face. The Eastern wall has stairs to the roof. I tried to peer through the grills to get a glimpse of the roof but the interior was shrouded in darkness and nothing was visible so I just walked around to see the gumbad from other angles. It is then I spotted a parakeet happily settled in one of the arched niches.

The dome springs from a sixteen-sided drum. The roof and the drum (base) of the hemispherical dome are decorated with a line of battlement-like ornamentation called kanguras.

The walled mosque 

The Lodi era wall mosque next to it has five-mehrab niches pointing towards Mecca. It is flanked by beautiful octagonal domed towers on either side with arched entrances build within them.

The central niche is flanked towards its back by turrets. The central of these niches is the largest both in terms of height and width. The smaller niches were build  probably to keep little lamps at night. The Quibla’s large courtyard has two neat rows of unknown graves and the place resembles more of a cemetery than a mosque. One can see beautiful leaf motifs on the entire length of the wall.

I watched the play of light and shadows on the leaf littered floor of the courtyard. Even though the plaster has peeled off at many places giving a glimpse of the rubble beneath this structure is still in a better condition than other monuments in the vicinity. The whole area is thickly shrouded by foliage from all sides overshadowing most of structure.

A little ahead is a newly constructed modern enclosure that houses hundreds of hamsters and rabbits.  We walked passed that to an open area where a cricket match was in full swing. I could see the Kali Gumti as we walked on a pathway shaded by lush Ashoka trees.

For some reason we did not go to the gumti and Tohfewala Gumbad hidden in thick foliage. I will be writing about these two separately. From there we took the trail to the deer enclosure and then to Munda Gumbad.

Munda Gumbad 

Munda Gumbad or the bald dome is a ruined pleasure pavilion on top of a grassy hillock. It was once in the center of the lake and was connected by a causeway to the city. Now it  lies at the edge of the lake. The headless or domeless structure can be accessed from all four sides by a of stairs. Made of rubble masonry the structure is believed to have two storeys. Now just a ruin it still has a aura around it and once can stand there and look at the green waters of the lake and across it he back of Tughlaq’a tomb and walls of the madarsa.

Hauz – i – Alai or Hauz Khas Lake 

By the time we were through with the Gumbad the sun had completed its journey. The green waters of the serene lake shimmered in the golden sunlight as the sun bid farewell. We walked along the lake admiring the marooned dried trees, sunken boats, fountains and the gorgeous reflections of the sunset.

At some point we sat down to talk about the  hauz i alai in its hay days when Khilji constructed it in 1295. This largest man made reservoir acted as water catchment for southern part of the city. It is believed that originally the reservoir spread over 123.6 acres and was 13.1 ft deep. Now it is just a quarter of its original size.

Once the Khilji empire declined the reservoir got neglected and mostly silted up. It was taken over by encroachments till Firoz Shah Tughlaq came to reign and took charge to de-silt, clean and clear the clogged inlets and repair it to be used again. He named it Hauz Khas and built a madarsa ( Islamic seminary) and some other structures including his tomb at its edge.

The Northern limb of the Madarsa – e – firoz Shahi (1352), a medieval center of learning, starting from the Tomb of Tughlaq on the left as seen from the water reservoir Hai- i – alai or Hauz Khas lake.

The entire complex of structures built by Tughlaq in the 14th century make this area along the lake stunningly beautiful.

Taghlaq”s Tomb

Tughlaq was by far the most prolific and far sighted builder in medieval North India and his love for architecture can be seen here in abundance. He carried out a lot of public work projects especially in the area of irrigation. We will discuss those in the upcoming posts.

The lake or tank, its water channels are still a very impressive sight.

We left the park from the Hauz Khas village end and headed back towards Sakri Gumti. I will do a post on those structures later. The complex is one of my favorites and there was a time I would spend hours wandering in the midst of this ruined glory.

 

 

Stay tuned for more on Hauz Khas complex and some other monuments in the vicinity. Stay warm and keep the spirits high. I will update this with better photographs of the monuments as and when.

Hello December – Flowers, Reviews, Conversations


The winter flowers are in full bloom. We didn’t grow many in the new house. I have just lost interest. My search for a home continues and I fill my empty hours with colors. I had forgotten this post in the draft so sharing now after updating a little. My laptop is still not working properly and that is the reason for this chaos here. Hope you’ll understand.

 

Yesterday while wandering in the city I spotted the gorgeous Pink Floss or the Mexican Silk Cotton tree with its bright showy flowers. This is the second flush The flowers are orchid like. These trees were introduced to Delhi and planted en mass in the 1950s.

I will be doing some more posts on Delhi, its trees, monuments and other things close to my heart.

Meanwhile Kashmir Lit, an online journal of Kashmiri and Diasporic Writing, published a review of my poetry book Wayfaring.

Here is an excerpt :

Tikuli Dogra emerges as a poet of transcendence. She seizes a moment, (be it in memory or imagination or in real time) describes it in broad word strokes, bringing her inherent painter to fore. This description itself becomes a meditation of sorts and culminates in a Zen-like insight/awareness that leaves the reader in a state of calm stasis.

 

You can read the review HERE 

A very special conversation took place over emails with Nigerian Poet David Ishaya Osu.  David is a young poet I admire. Extremely talented he is one of the very few interviewers I enjoyed conversing with. He is sharp, witty, sensitive and very intriguing and it was a pleasure to share some thoughts on poetry, life, food, blogging and other things with him. Do read his poems and the interview which got published in Gainsayer Magazine.

Here is an excerpt

 

Some stray questions in one (laughs): what is it you do not like about poetry? As a poet yourself, does poetry mystify you? And what is that one thing you wish people get about poetry? 

(Laughs) It may seem very odd now when I say it but over the years I have begun to dislike the ‘dreamy creamy’ stuff dished out in the name of poetry. Some years back I was writing something similar and then one day I purposely took down many of my earlier poems from my blog and elsewhere. Once you learn the nuances of the craft you know the good from the bad. I also detest the use of clichés in poems.

I like to be mystified by poetry. I like the unknown, something that holds me, makes me think beyond what is visible, beyond understanding. I think good poetry is all about taking the reader beyond the familiar. You peel a few layers and think you’re close but then there are more layers. Just like art.  Poetry should mystify so far as to draw you into it.

Most of the time we are in pursuit of mastering the art and not leaving an element of mystery in it which I think is a mistake.

 

Do read the full interview by visiting this link –

Tikuli Dogra – Poetry is life for me 

 

My short fiction about gender violence and war crimes against women is featured in ‘Muffled Moans Unleashed‘, an international anthology of poetry and fiction focused on child abuse/gender violence. The book has contributions from award-winning writers.

The book is co edited and complied by Lopa Banerjee along with Dr. Santosh Bakaya and is published by AuthorsPress, New Delhi. It’s available on Amazon so do get your copy and give me your opinion on the story. The book was released in Kolkata at the Iran Society, 22nd December, 2018 in the presence of the literati, social activists and short filmmakers of the city.
I have a few very important posts on Delhi Monuments which I will start sharing from tomorrow. I hope to cover all the pending posts before the year ends.

 

Wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays. 

 

Winter Special – Sarson Da Saag Te Makki Di Roti


Earthy, flavorful, full of nutrition and delicious in taste sarson ka saag or mustard greens is a perfect winter meal. A staple in rural Punjab it is enjoyed by both Punjabis and non-Punjabis alike. The meal is often accompanied with buttermilk, homemade white butter, curd, radish/onion/green chili, jaggery. Made with seasonal mustard leaves along with other leafy veggies like bathua (Chenopodium or pigweed) and spinach the main dish has its variation in every household. Some people add turnip or radish to it while cooking. Others may use a little jaggery to balance the slight pungent taste of mustard greens.  A mix of spices is stirred in to build up the flavor.

I learned this recipe from my MIL. Their village home surrounded by fields of mustard and maize. Fresh mustard leaves are tender dark green colored broad leaves with flat surface and may have either toothed, frilled or lacy edges depending on the cultivar type. Its light-green stem branches out extensively into many laterals and have a sweet peppery flavor.

My MIL always discarded the big, damaged or yellowing leaves. Only tender small/medium leaves were used for the saag. She used the tender stems called Gandal too. Gandal is also used to make delicious pickle but that we will talk about some other day. The stems are peeled and the upper thick fibrous layer discarded. Then they are cut into small cubes and added to the chopped leaves. She said it provided the sweetness to the saag and she is so right. The addition of gandal is a game changer in the making of this dish.

Preparing sarson ka saag is a labor of love, a time consuming process so many people make it in large quantity and freeze it. Whenever the craving strikes the saag is thawed and seasoned freshly to be enjoyed again.  If you have a time crunch do clean and wash the leafy greens in advance and cook them with essential ingredients to save time.

Here is the recipe :

Sarson ka Saag :

500 gm – cleaned, washed, finely chopped mustard or sarson leaves and tender stems

250 gm – washed cleaned and chopped bathua or chenopodium leaves

250 gm – cleaned, washed and chopped palak or spinach leaves

Ginger –  1/2 inch piece+ julienne 1 tbsp

Garlic – 8-9 cloves

Green chili -4-5

Onion – 1 medium . chopped fine

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Red chili whole/ powder – 1/ to taste

Salt – to taste

Ghee/Clarified butter – 2 tbs

Turmeric Powder -1/2 tsp

Hing / asafoitida – 2 -3 pinch

Coriander seeds – 1 tsp

Maize flour / makki ka aata – 3-4 tbsp

Method :

Once you have all the greens cleaned, washed and chopped add them to the pressure cooker with a little water, salt, turmeric powder.

Pound the ginger, garlic and green chilies together in a mortar and pestle and add to the greens. This adds a delicious flavor to the saag.

Pressure cook till 3-4 whistles and lower the flame to cook for another few minutes or till the leaves are completely cooked. Let the cooker cook down then open and coarsely mash the saag with a potato masher or a buttermilk churner (Mathani) till it is a nice even mix. Add the maize flour and mix well so that there are no lumps.

Let it cook on slow heat to get the desired consistency then turn off the gas.

Now it is time  season it. You can cool and keep the saag in the fridge at this stage for future use.

For the Tadka or seasoning, heat ghee in a pan and once it warms add asafoetida and cumin seeds and coriander seeds. When they crackle add whole red chili and chopped garlic. Fry it  little till it browns a bit then add chopped onions and fry till they becomes translucent and pinkish in color, add some chopped ginger. red chili powder, stir and add the cooked saag to it. Cook on low flame for sometime and then urn off the stove. Keep it covered for sometime for the flavors to seep in. Serve hot with makki ki roti topped with a dollop of fresh butter r warm ghee.

Note – If you do not find bathua you can add a small tender turnip or  chopped fresh tender radish with ts greens. It gives a very nice flavor.

Never ever blend the greens in a mixer, it not just changes the flavor a bit but makes texture sticky and goey.  Saag should always be preferred “Ghota hua” or ” coarsely mashed” for the authentic taste.

If you wish add tomatoes then grate 1 large tomato and add to the seasoning after the onions have changed color. Fry the mixture properly till it is well cooked then add the saag. I avoid tomatoes at all cost.

You can change the proportion of  the tadka / seasoning as per your taste but do not let the spices overwhelm the dish. The flavor of leafy greens must play a major role in taste.

Makki Ki Roti : 

The makki ki roti is traditionally made by flattening the ball of dough between the palms of hands. I learned it this way and even cooked it on chulha but here is an easy way.

Makki atta / Maize Flour – 1 cup  (2-3 rotis)

Warm water – as required

Method – 

Take the flour in a plate and add warm water slowly. Keep rubbing the flour with your fingers as you bind it. Warm water ensures that the rotis come out soft and nice. Bind the flour and press it with the base of your palm till it becomes a cohesive mass and comes together in a nice dough. Cut the dough in two parts and make a ball.

Take a cling wrap and spread it on the kitchen counter. Apply a little oil and place one ball of the dough. Flatten it a bit  with fingers and cover with one side of the cling wrap. Roll with a rolling pin till it s round and flat. It should be a little thicker than the wheat roti. Gently lift it and place it on the hot tawa. I usually apply a little oil to the tawa and wipe it before putting the roti. Let it cook on one side on slow flame. Once slight brown spots appear flip itand let it cook. Once both sides are nicely cooked toast it on open flame by moving the so that the entire area is nicely toasted.

Remove on a kitchen cloth and crush a little by holding it on you palm. Apply ghee or serve with white butter on top.

There is no sight more comforting than seeing the butter teasingly melt on the hot roti. Love hot makki ki roti with ghee and gud /shakkar too.

We make churma with stale or behi roti by crushing it with ghee and shakkar. It tastes divine. One can add a little hot milk in it too.  🙂

Serve the hot sarson da saag and makki di roti with mirchiwale pyaz, mooli, green chili, dahi and gur.

As you see this is not just food this is a love.

Spicy Phool Makhana ( Puffed Lotus Seeds) Namkeen


 

The two recipes for Makhana snacks that I posted earlier were appreciated by many so I am posting another version for Diwali. This has dry fruits and peanuts apart from a few other healthy ingredients. You can either roast the ingredients or lightly toast them in a little ghee. Ghee, as you know, is good for health if eaten in moderation.

This crispy, low fat, low calorie snack is high on nutrition and pairs beautifully with a steaming mug of Chai. You can eat it during fasting days too.  It has a low Glycimic index and is protein rich, high in carbohydrates, gluten free and naturally vegan.

Ingredients :

Makhana or Lotus Seeds  – 2 cups

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Peanuts – 1/4 cup

Raisins – 1/2 cup

Almonds – 1/2 cup

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Curry leaves – 10-12

Chopped green chili – 2 tsp

Dry coconut  slices – 1 few

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp (optional)

Salt ( Either sendha or normal table salt) – As per taste

Chaat masala – As per taste

Black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp

Dried fresh mint and methi (fenugreek) leaves – 1/4 tsp

Roasted chana daal – 4 tbsp

Roasted cornflakes – 3-4 tbsp

Rice puffs –  1/4 cup

 

Method –

Heat a pan and add a little ghee. Add makhanas and roast them on low heat till they turn light golden and become crunchy. To test, take one fox nut and press between your fingers, it should crumble. Take them out in a plate.

Add almonds and toast them till they change color. Remove and toast the peanut till slight brown. You can add a little ghee and lightly fry them them too. Remove in a plate.

Lightly roast coconut slices and remove.

Now, add the remaining ghee to the pan. Add mustard seeds and when they crackle, add chopped green chili and curry leaves. Fry them till the moisture evaporates and they become crisp. Turn off the gas.

Add the peanuts, almonds, raisins and stir. Add makhana and stir.  Add salt, chaat masala, black pepper powder to it and mix well.

Take it out in a  bowl and let it cool. Store in an airtight container.

I made one version like this and to the other added roasted cornflakes, rice puffs, roasted chana daal too. ( you need to wash and soak the dal for at least an hour before roasting)

I skipped turmeric in the first variation and only used it for certain ingredients but you should use for the entire mixture.

You can also add roasted cashew nuts and different seeds to it.

Enjoy this healthy gluten free high protein snack with hot tea.

The Making Of ‘Duets’ – Our Book Of Collaborative Poems


As the publication date for Duets draws close I thought of sharing how James and I wrote all the poems that are part of the collection.

Very often people say that writing poetry is a solitary art. For some it may be true but at the same time collaborative poetry also has a long history and now, especially in the days of the Internet, it has become easier to collaborate over messages, text, emails, or even working within the same document while living miles apart, sometimes the collaborators do not even know or meet each other before sharing the space in a book. The collaboration of visual art and poetry is also very exciting thing that we get to see now more often than before.

There are so many mediums to collaborate and so many ways to write the poems too. Renga in Japan and Renku in China are good examples of collaborative poetry forms. French Renaissance poetry was often a joint project where poets collaborated with their contemporaries.

The poems in Duet originated in the conversations between James and I on Facebook Messenger. The process was simple. We decide on posting the poems alternately. The one whose turn it was to post came up with a first line, and then we added lines alternately until one of us yelled stop. Then we each took the text and edited it into a form that we thought worked.  We then had two versions of the piece and decided which one we should post. Sometimes we didn’t agree and kept both the versions but it was rare. These poems can be termed impromptu as they were written and posted at the same time. Usually it took us an hour or three approximately to finish one poem and post.

When we began neither of us had thought it would come this far. We did it for fun and posted for friends to read and within a short span we had some twenty poems and then the number kept growing. It was then we decided to save them in a document file. We could see an opportunity of a book. James is a seasoned writer so this whole exercise was very exciting for me and a great learning process too. I think it was difficult than the usual process of collaboration where you have time to think and create once the other person has written his/her lines. Here we had no time. Once we sat down in front of the open chat window and the first line was posted it had to take shape of a poem. There was no escape or postponing. This kind of built a pressure especially on me as I am yet a student learning the craft but I must say it kicked me out of my comfort zone ..lol.. It also taught me discipline though James will laugh and say I still need a lot of it.. 😀

It is exciting and at the same time liberating to watch a new voice emerge as a piece develops. We were open to the poem leading us rather than one of us leading it and yet it was an intimate experience. Words are portals and we saw this during our writing of these poems. Suddenly a line would change the entire thought process and lead you to somewhere totally different. It was an exercise to be ready for a quick response to the wordplay that is not yours, a thought completely different from yours, to recognize another voice and be comfortable with its uniqueness and be ready to get startled by constant surprises. Sometimes not being in control gives you more strength to break mental barriers and create something beautiful and totally unexpected. The feeling is overwhelming. Sometimes frustrating too, which of course is human. We are conditioned to follow our thought process and this sort of intense exercise messes with the brain’s normal conditioned way of working. I can tell you that many times I would envisage a poem leading in a certain way and suddenly a line from James would change the coarse leaving me lost for words and ideas but he would patiently wait till I gathered my thoughts again and wrote my part. Many times I would try to steer it in a certain direction but then eventually the poem would take its own course. That is the beauty of words. They lead the way.

It is amazing how an impromptu collaborative work grows organically into a form challenging the roles like gender, age, personality, culture and other differences which usually mark your individual work.  Here all bets were off. We trusted each other and took the direction we were steered into without being judgmental. What we loved most about our work is how this exercise blurred individual lines. While reading the final poem one could really not point out who wrote which line and that was something beautiful.

The joy to create something together is irreplaceable. Time was a big challenge as both of us are writers with a tremendous amount of workload but we somehow managed to hold on to it and assigned a time to get online just to write a new piece and enjoyed our collaborative time together.  I think my creativity has grown with this collaboration.

The name ‘Duets’ is the brainchild of our mutual friend Sabine who was one of the regular readers of the poems as they were shared on Facebook. She began calling them Duets and the name stuck. Thank you Sabine for the love.

 

I asked James to give his side of the story and this is what he sent me :

 

I quote

I’m not totally sure how the collaborative poems between Tikuli and I came about. I think perhaps one of us said—and I’ll give the credit to Tikuli—“let’s write a poem together”, and so we did. Then we wrote another and another and another, and suddenly there were enough poems for our book ‘Duets’, even after leaving a few of the less good poems out of the mix.

 

For some time before we started collaborating, I had been using whatever expertise I have as an editor in trying to help Tikuli with her writing—mostly working on fiction, a long-form narrative, an as yet incomplete novel, and short stories.I think Tikuli came to realise that the best way to learn is often by example, and so she suggested that perhaps we could write something together. As I didn’t have the time to commit to writing anything of length, we began writing poems whenever we could find a bit of time to work together.

 

Writing is, by it’s very nature, a solitary occupation, so collaborating on the writing of poetry or anything else is not a natural process, but is instead a challenge, something to be mastered for no other reason than the determination to master it. In the finished work two minds have to come together as one. The writing must seem as fluid and natural as if it had been written by one person. This means compromise from both writers, without compromise nothing would ever be completed. Compromise was difficult when we both had fixed ideas in mind.

 

How can I describe the process of writing together? Think of it as being like a tug-of-war between two mules, for we both have a capacity for stubbornness. There’s a knot in the centre of a rope and a marker on the ground dividing the territories of the mules, then the mules pull in different directions until that knot passes into the territory of one mule or the other. That rope, of course, is woven from the alternate lines we wrote, the territories are the directions that we each thought the poems should turn towards. Sometimes we argued. Sometimes we discussed. Sometimes we disagreed. But always we remained amicable, for our friendship is far, far stronger than any momentary disagreement.

 

I differ with him on one point. It was his suggestion to start writing collaborative poems. Trust him for not taking credit. I wouldn’t have suggested at any cost ..lol.. I’m so jittery about getting into a new thing. I can tell now that it was worth all the fretting, nervousness and brain storming.

Here is a treat for all of you, a poem from the collection.

DINNER

only tears would clean the stains
hunger left on her face
as she tried to understand
what was wrong with the rich
and decadent food she ate
as unsatisfying as lost love
it left her gaunt and empty
her starved reflection stared at her
from the shine of her empty plate
absentmindedly her finger
traced the contours
of the plate’s cracked surface
as she dreamed of better times
twilight gathered in her eyes
and fed her inner darkness
soon the starless night would come
and invisible in the night
her empty plate might fill

( © Duets – collaborative poems by Tikuli & James Goddard)

Do pre-order your copies. The book releases on 19th of November. It will be available with all online book vendors.

One Year of Wayfaring And Other Things


Pre-orders began for Wayfaring this day last year. How time flies and within 12 months another poetry book Duets, coauthored with James, is out for pre-order. So much is happening at personal front. The move to a new apartment just a floor above where I stayed earlier. ( No, not my own home. My search for home is still on ) The usual stresses and rants, tiring few days of sorting, packing, discarding and lugging up the stuff then sorting, discarding, giving away what’s not needed and then labeling again and rearranging. It seemed like a never ending task.

It is said, “What you keep rots; what you give flourishes.”

How much do we store and cling to in a lifetime… I’ve suddenly lost any attachments. Gorgeous sarees, books and much more. I have memories attached to whatever little I have now but it’s time to let go.. the future doesn’t have much space for ghosts of past.

I don’t know what to do with the ghosts of present who day in and day out haunt and torment. There is a ridiculous amount of material things here and same number approximately in my marital house which is no longer or never was mine. They are an overwhelming reminder of wasted time and lives and loves that could have been lived better. There are others I wish had something of, but don’t. A memory that sometimes comes floating by sometimes.

Everyone MUST learn the art of throwing away. 99% of us are compulsive hoarders and live through a life of clutter, sometime so organised that it doesn’t look like clutter. I found things as old as 100 yrs. Of course not mine, they are my mom’s. I just organized the clutter in newly painted shelves, racks etc. Some labelled, others just wrapped and stuffed far behind in the dark depths to be discovered later sometime. Then there are books… there are still 2-3 cartons full after filling up the bookshelves. I am still reeling under the fatigue. The good thing is that art comes handy in times of stress and mental block. I took up the #Inktober challenge on instagram and am now sharpening my skills of ink/pen drawing. You can see my work here. A fresh start is a good thing: A new perspective of what I truly want my life to be and what I stand for.

Today FB memories brought up this video from Leaky Boot Press You Tube channel.

I have received positive feedback on Wayfaring till now and it makes me very happy that readers are connecting with me and writing about their experiences. I am expecting a few more reviews in this month. Have you bought your copy? I would love to hear from you. People who have bought it please give your feedback on Amazon / Goodreads etc.

Meanwhile, here is what poet/painter Uma Gowrishankar had to say about the book,

“If the heart can weigh heavier with every turn of phrase, then elegiac is the mood of Wayfaring, Tikuli’s second collection of poems. Tikuli takes us through a landscape scarred by memories. The theme of abandonment recurs in the poems, bludgeons through intense and searing images that are disturbingly sensorial.

The poems in Wayfaring swing between the violence of loss and the silence of deep mourning, that comes from estrangement, tearing away from roots. Exhausted with the tension, Through poem after poem and in a language that stirs with honesty, she takes us on a path filled with compassion and faith despite everything.”

You can read the full review on my Instagram page.

In another news two of my LGBT support poems got published in ‘EquiVerseSpace – A Sound Home In Words‘ and the news came on a perfect day when the Supreme Court scrapped section 377. Thanks Smeetha Bhoumik, Taseer and others for this space. Happy to be part of this write tribe.

I Congratulate the LGBT community, the activists, petitioners and each one if us who believed and supported the right to love and live. It is our victory and only by embracing it we can end the phobia associated with it even though the law has changed. This has been a long journey for numerous brave activists, lawyers and members of the LGBT community. The verdict says that consensual sex between adults of the same gender is not a violation of Sec377.

Even with Section377 gone the real fight is with those bigots and homophobes who make everyday living difficult. There’s a lot that needs to be done for a complete equality. Will it ensure LGBTQ Empowerment? No discrimination at workplace and other places? There are a whole lot of other things that need to be dealt with. Though elated by the judgement I’m a little thoughtful too. Hoping for a mindset change at root level.The branding and discrimination despite the legal win needs to go for a complete victory. I hope the closet LGBTQI community is able to break the shackles of the regressive mindset.

I have been putting off a much needed discussion here. A discussion about the kind of life we live as women, the choices we make and can not make. The double standards of men in the family who support and voice their strong views on feminism and women’s rights but inside the four walls treat the women in the family in just the opposite manner.  I had stopped writing for change and my personal struggles for a good reason that it did not help me at practical level though it helped many others in their struggles but time has come to lay down some facts and seek appropriate help. I am just organizing my thoughts so that I don’t turn the post into a rant. I have to move out from where I am staying and for that I need information and support. Will update on it soon.

The doctor feels my anxiety and sleeplessness can’t be treated holistically. Need to take anti-anxiety pill. I’m not ready. I want to calm my nerves so the heart beats to the rhythm of love. My gut feeling is i can do it with lifestyle changes. I know the root cause and I am working towards resolving it. It is all in the mind as they say. Resetting my priorities and making those necessary changes in my lifestyle. Some factors remain the same but then I plan to change my perspective towards them. We can’t change people but we can change the way we respond to them. Right?

I am also working on a few more Hindi poems and will post them soon. Please keep visiting and drop a line or two in the comments so I know your views.

Here’s a ten minute Tulip flower watercolor I made on sleepless night.

The painting is copyrighted so please refrain from sharing or copying.