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.

Advertisements

Usal – Misal Pav Recipe


Misal pav is one of the most popular Mumbai street food. Wholesome, delicious and full of flavors this dish is made from whole bean sprouts especially sprouted moth beans or Turkish beans. You can use mixed sprouts too. The curry is a fiery melange of fresh spices, sprouts, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and farsan. Misal is usually served at breakfast but you can eat it any time of the day. Pav can be bought or made at home with whole wheat.

Every place in Maharashtra has its own variation of Misal. I have had Puneri misal on many occasions and once had a taste of kolhapuri misal in mumbai that set my insides on fire. Too spicy, too oily, too rich for me but those who have a penchant for fiery food this dish is a must.  The original recipe requires a lot of oil but you may cut the oil and spices according to your taste. Then there is the Nasik Maratha style misal that uses the aromatic kala masala and lot more red chilli spiced oil that floats atop the misal. There is a debate on whether the goda masala and kala masala are the same. I think they taste very different. I have used goda masala in this recipe.

You can keep the gravy (Kat) and the usal separately or mix them. The advantage of keeping Kat separate is that one can adjust the amount of spiced curry.

Usal is made from sprouted moth beans and has its own place in maharashtriyan households. When topped with Kat, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and farsan it is becomes Misal.

The process is a bit lengthy but worth all the effort if you get it right. I have made it only thrice but I love to  dunk the pav in this spicy dish anytime.

Making misal pav is a two part process.  We make the Kat ( the gravy) and the usal (the sprout dish).

Here is the list of ingredients you will require:

Pav buns ( traditionally ladi pav buns are used) – 6

Butter to toast the pav

Sprouts (mixed or moth bean srouts) – 2 cups

Tomatoes – 2 large

Potatoes  – 2 medium size cubed

Onions –  2 large finely chopped

Fresh corriender greens – 1/4 cup

Farsan ( spicy snack mixture)

Grated dry coconut – 2 tablespoon

Goda masala or achar (pickle) masala – 2 tablespoon

Green chili – 2

Ginger – 1/2 inch

Garlic – 6-7 pods

Cumin seed powder – 1 teaspoon

Corriender powder – 2 tablespoon

Red chili powder –  1 tablespoon

Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon

Garam Masala – 1/4 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Curry leaves – 8-10

Oil – 2 tablespoon

 

To make the paste for the gravy (Kat in Marathi)

Make a paste of ginger ,garlic and green chilies.

In a pan heat some oil. Once the oil heats up add asafedita powder and this paste. Stir properly.

Add chopped onion and when the onions become translucent add grated coconut. Stir and add chopped tomatoes. Sauté them till the tomatoes become soft and the mixture blends into a smooth paste. Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, goda masala, cumin powder, red chili powder and salt. Once the masala starts to leave oil take it out to cool.

When the masala cools completely, put it in a grinder jar and grind to a fine paste.

In a pan heat some oil and add mustard seeds. Once they begin to sputter, add curry leaves and the masala paste you had prepared.  fry it well and add two – three cups of water. Kat is a watery gravy so don’t hesitate to add adequate water. Let it boil for ten minutes or till the reddish oil floats to the top.

To make Usal

In a pressure cooker add some oil. Once the oil heats, add mustard seeds, asafetida powder,  curry leaves, paste of ginger garlic, some chopped onion and stir.

When the onion become translucent, add washed matki sprouts  and cubed potatoes.  Stir well.

Add a little turmeric powder, a little garam masala and pinch of salt. Add some water to cover the sprouts completely.

Pressure cook  till three whistles. Usal should not be watery but still have some gravy.

Turn off the heat and let the cooker cool.

Spoon the usal in a serving dish.

To toast the Pav –

Slice the pav buns  and toast them slightly in butter in a pan or just warm them. They should be soft and nice so don’t toast for long. I recommend roasting in butter.

To assemble the Misal –

In a deep dish first add two ladels of matki usal and one ladle of kat( the fiery gravy). The nadd a layer of chopped onions and chopped coriander greens. The third layer must be of farsan/ sev or whichever spicy gathia mixture you have. Squeeze generous amount of lemon juice.

Serve it hot with toasted pav.

You can serve kat, usal and farsan, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and lemon pieces in separate bowls too. People can mix them as per their taste.

Alternately if you know that everyone in the family has a liking for hot and spicy curries, you can mix the usal in the kat and boil for some time. Serve with chopped onions, tomatoes, farsan and lemon wedges.

Notes –

You can eat usal with bhakri or roti too.

Some people like to have curd or butttermilk with misal pav to balance the heat from the curry.

Adjust the oil and chili according to your preferences. This is my version of misal pav, you can make your own.

The authentic misal pav uses a typical masala called goda masala. You get it in the market. You can also use Maharashtriyan achar ka masala which gives the misal a unique tastes. If you don’t have any of these, you can use the usual garam masala though the misal will taste different.

I don’t get all the ingredients for goda masala but I make this mix which you can try too. I will post the recipe for it in the next post.

 

To make the bean sprouts –  Wash moth or matki beans properly and soak them in water overnight in a covered container. Once the beans swell, take them out in a sieve and wash a few times under filtered water. Put the sieve on a small container and cover loosely with muslin cloth. Keep in dark place till the sprouts appear. Wash the sprouted beans properly under running filtered water before using.

 

Exif_JPEG_420

Shevgyachya Shenganchi Amti |Drumsticks Amti Dal


This recipe post has a little story. A childhood story before plastic took over our lives. We always ate in thalis which were either made of steel or brass even copper. Mainly steel.

We had a low table or chowki and patras with it to sit.  Sometimes we used a chatayi or woven mat too. Food was served in thali and karoti and these small tumblers had tak/ mattha/buttermilk or water. They were always kept on the left side of the thali. Most of the utensils and furniture etc was given away when I was growing up because my parents kept moving from one place to another and carrying too many things was a headache. Mom still managed to save some heirlooms like a betel nut cutter ( sarota), karanji maker and spoon, a few lotas of different shapes and sizes, katoris and thalis, a few brass and copper cooking utensils, milk pots and some other stuff like bolti or morali/vili, a grinding stone, pestle and mortar etc.

This small thali seen here is about 59 years old. It was given to mom when my brother was born, mine is slightly bigger but I loved to eat in this one. Little thali, a small katori and a tiny tumbler. It fitted perfectly in the imaginary tales I spun all day as a kid. As I grew up things changed and reluctantly we shifted to melamine / china/ glass plates but now i’m going back to thalis.

Today I was reminiscent of my aaji ( maternal grandmother) and of many other things that were part of my childhood and growing up years and I wondered how does one feel eating in old utensils that have been a part of so many kitchen stories. I can tell you there is a certain joy and fulfillment that only these utensils can provide. It is the same with food. There are some soul foods that stay with you from your childhood to old age and as you grow older you crave for them more. Varan Bhat and Amti bhat are two such dishes. You can call them pillars of daily Maharashtriyan cuisine.

Simple, soulful and full of good nutrition, I love amti in all forms poured over hot steamed rice with a generous helping of hot ghee over it. Not many dishes can give me the kind of satisfaction like this does. I make it with or without coconut and with different lentils. All have their unique tastes but this particular one I like the most. A comfort food for all times made with toor dal / arhar dal / split pigeon pea, goda masala, tamarind and jaggery or kokum and jaggery for that tangy sweet taste. The flavor from kokum is distinctly different from the tamarind one. I have used soaked dry kokum here.

A typical meal for me would be steamed rice / bajra bhakri, garlic chutney or lime pickle, stuffed brinjals with in peanut gravy, aamti , fresh buttermilk and salt on side. Maybe a bowl of shrikhand or a peda to go with it. No other meals can beat it.

This amti has the goodness of tender drumsticks or sehjan ki phali or moringa pods which I love to suck on taking in the sweet flavorful flesh from inside.

Ingredients : 

Toor dal / arhar dal / split pigeon peas – 1/2 Cup

Tender drumsticks – 4 medium

Onion – 1 large

Curry leaves – 6-8

Kokum – 3 -4  or tamarind pulp as desired ( approx – 2 tbsp

Asafoetida – 2 pinch

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder –  to taste

Whole red chlli – 1=-2

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp

Goda masala ( I used homemade) – 2 tbsp

Jaggery – 1-2 tbsp

Ghee / clarified butter –  3-4 tbsp

Chopped coriander leaves – 2-3 tbsp

Grated coconut – 1/4 Cup ( optional ) ( I didn’t use)

Grated ginger – 1 tsp

Steps : 

  1. Wash and soak toor dal for 15 minutes then pressure cook it with grated ginger, salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida for 3-4 whistles or until soft.
  2. Soak kokum / tamarind ( if not using the seedless pulp) in warm water for 20 min and then mash the tamarind into a clear paste ( remove threads / seeds etc) .No need to mash kokum, just throw t in the dal later while seasoning.
  3. Chop onions in big chucks. 6-8 pieces of a large onion.
  4. Wash cut and steam the drumsticks. Check to rule out the bitterness.
  5. Once the dal is done, take a masher and totally mash the dal till it is one smooth mix. Add a cup of water and boil on low flame.
  6. add the kokum or tamarind paste at this time to dal.
  7. Add the goda masala to dal and stir. Also add the jaggery and give it a nice stir so that it melts nicely.
  8.  on the other side, heat a pan, add ghee ( Ghee brings out the best taste in amti). Once ghee warms up add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and let them splutter.
  9. Add pinch of asafoetida again, whole red chilli, curry leaves and onion pieces. fry them till onions are translucent. Add grated coconut if using and stir. Add the steamed / boiled drumsticks. Stir and add a little chilli powder. Let it cook for a minute or two.
  10. gently pour the dal over this seasoning and give a nice stir. Check for sweet, salt and spice and make changes as per your taste. It must have a nice tangy sweet flavor spiced by goda masala.
  11. Let it boil for a while. Add water if the amti seems thick. It is supposed to be a little runny and usually thickens after cooling so keep a little more watery than usual dal. Discard the kokum pieces.
  12. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with hot steamed rice or bhakri.

It is essential to pour some hot ghee over amti bhat. It enhances the flavors and gives a lovely taste to the dish.

Note :

I used onion but traditionally no onion is used in this amti.

You can buy goda masala or amti masala from the stores or make them at home too.

Do let me know if you make this.