Author Archives: Veena S.

About Veena S.

'Travel broadens the mind.' I've been lucky to have travelled to many countries and also lived in a few. At times, it was a great eye opener, at times it was making new friends across the oceans. Embracing cultures, learning new cuisines and admiring different costumes has been a rewarding journey this long. At home I enjoy cooking, quilting and story telling.

Crochet: Importance of Practice

Standard

While chatting with a story-teller friend last week we discussed how we kept repeating and …getting better. She at story telling and me at crochet. I moaned ‘I just work on Granny squares time and again!’ She chirped ‘ I tell a few (same) stories to the children, again and again’. We both smiled!

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes it perfect.’

Vince Lombardi.

  • As a beginner to crochet you will wonder where to start, what to practice upon. When a friend introduced me to the yarn and needle, we both began on mastering the chain stitch and double crochet(dc). Recently, two new friends came along and gifting them small colourful  yarn bundles to work upon was the best way to learn and practice crochet, in the midst of chai cups:)
  • Begin with small projects. Mastering the basic Granny squares works for me. As you master the yarn tension, keep count of the chains or trebles, learn to turn your work every new row, learn to measure, and of course find your mistakes – rip it – re-do. It’s all about practice. The process sure can be very demanding, at times frustrating, but surely satisfying!
  • Adding colour and variety keeps interest flowing. Who says you need to be a Granny to do crochet? Well, search the You Tube or crochet books and you’ll find a dozen different patterns to do a basic square to practice upon. (I know only 3 patterns).

Multi colour granny squares

crochet squares- solid granny pattern

  • Step up, move on. Once you’ve mastered a certain stitch or pattern, it’s time to add a bit of challenge to your work. According to Jean Piaget, a child psychologist, children (we) go through four stages of cognitive development. Thus, as we see and experience, learn the basic schema (a pattern), new experiences or knowledge presented modifies or adapts our learning to reach next level.
  • From small to big is the next stage. Practice old and new stitches. Create something more meaningful. Time to turn those squares or hexagons into dish cloths, Afghans, baby blankets,bags and more.
  • Granny square blanket

     

    Granny square bag

    Courtesy: Internet
    Granny Square Vest

    Do share your experiences on practice. What are you working on at present? How does practice benefit or irritate you? 

    All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

Big Thank You to my Reader’s

Standard

       Yippee…I’ve just published my 120th blog post.

 

Numbers do not mean anything, they say.

All the same without an audience, me an amateur writer would have nothing more motivating than you. The blog began 3 years ago as a ‘time filler and learning to use the computer meaningfully.’ Somehow along the way, curious friends and bloggers began reading and following 🙂 Thank you to each on of you!

 

Image result for thank you images

Book Lover’s Paradise: Koti Book Market

Standard
Book Lover’s Paradise: Koti Book Market

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.   

Charles William Eliot

 

Have you every visited a heritage family home? Faded plastered walls, hanging chandeliers, wooden round tables and above all… smelled the lingering musty, rich smell of books and papers?

Those were the days… without the digital screens:Television, iPads, Tabs, and Kindle.

Those were the days… when reading and reading aloud was encouraged during family meal times and on cold winter nights. Reading not only stimulates the brain, but promotes conversation.

Those were the days… when birthday and anniversary presents came in the form of books – just black and white print.

My Sunday morning turned special, as I took my helper to buy books for her new college term. We took a long ride by bus to Koti, across the Musi river in Hyderabad. ‘Aunty, please’ she reminded ”Don’t start taking photos, else the shopkeepers will stare, or may raise book price’ and I smiled.

What a visual treat stretched out on the street off the bus depot! Being a Sunday less traffic means more road space. Books, books everywhere. Universal Book Centre, RajKamal Books, NeelKamal Book Centre and Famous Book shop and others have stood the test of time here. College students come flocking to Koti at the start of the start of new term. The shops dizzying, neat vertical rows of curricular books, was indeed promising.

Rows of shops selling academic and fiction books

Kothi, in Hindi and Urdu means house. During the Nizam era the area housed concubines and other women folk attending to the royal family. Kothi has some famous buildings that house long-standing educational institutes. The splendid architectural Women’s college and nearby Osmania University caters to medical, nursing and Arts courses. Nearby the Gandhi Gyan Kendra , a good place for Yoga courses is a 40 year-long establishment. Thus the business of selling academic books in Koti has been thriving for many decades, changing to the needs of the day.

Medicine, Astrology, Science, Grammar, Spoken English books as well as guides for competitive exams such as TOEFL, CAT, EAMCET are most sought after. Ruled notebooks, account ledgers, drawing books, stationary items are also sold at competitive price. Ever bought notebooks by weight? Come here, there’s no haggling. At a fixed price of Rs. 100/ per kilo for notebooks of A4 size we bought 3 kilos plus course books for Rs. 430/ at a discounted government rate for the CEC curriculum ( Civics, Economics, Commerce). Heavy! heavy I cried.

Second hand books on sale

Further on, the dirty dilapidated subway near Andhra bank is not the best place for a Sunday visual treat! Yet, deep under, on dark descending steps multitude of book sellers cater to second-hand academic books. Best buys for needy college students as they get a loan period and discounts at Rs. 150 – 300.

Such a heartwarming sight! Few college girls were deeply engrossed into comparing syllabus books at these second-hand shops. The thirst for  education, the need for term books and being pocket wise was obvious.Well done!

Second hand book market, Kothi.

Further under the canopy of trees, spread out on large plastic sheets fiction books,classics and children’s story books covered entire stretch of the pavement. Hemingway, Stephen King, Eliot,Tagore, Salman Rushie and new Indian authors like Chetan Bhagat, Jhumpa Lahiri. Ah! what a spread! Though a serious buyer or collector may frown upon the small print, brown pages, authenticity of editing and grammatical errors, the competitive price at Rs. 300-350 seemed like a bargain for just quick lazy reads. Take it or leave it, no haggling.

Arms heavy with carrying the buy of the day, it was time to head home. Popular street book markets are found in most cities. In my college days I often went to Flora Fountain, Mumbai to buy classics or second-hand books. Maybe, I should turn the clock and revisit.

Have you been to a street book market in your city? How was it different?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

Food and Markets during Festive Season of Ramzan

Standard

Image result for ramzan images

To all my Muslim friends, readers and followers of this blog

    Ramzan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak 

At the end of a month-long period of fasting(Sawm), Muslims all over the world celebrate Ramzan (or Ramadhan). In Arabic, the word Ramzan means dryness or scorching heat…referring to the stomach dryness during fasting.

Decorative lamps, table ware, flower bouquets, gifts articles, glittery slippers, sandals and purses, lace and zari trimmed dresses as well as special food treats are packed into every inch of space in shopping malls, markets and restaurants to usher in the festivity. Mounds of thin, crispy noodles or seviyaan sit in circles in sweet shops, Dates filled with pistachio or almonds grace dry fruit stores in the Gulf region and Haleem, a local Hyderabadi dish prepared with pounded wheat, meat and lentils is extremely popular.

Faux zari borders, lace and gotta patti

Here are some photos sent by friends as they get busy in the malls or their homes preparing for the celebration.

Shopping mall decorated for Ramadan

 

Fasting ends after the evening Asar prayers, and the first food to be partaken is the succulent, nutrient Dates. Here is last year’s post on Dates.

At this time of the year, Date Palm fronds are filled with reddish raw fruit, that soon turns golden-yellow in the summer heat. In Hyderabad, as people throng to city mosques for evening prayers,street carts filled with Date fruit and sliced mangoes, papaya and watermelon are sold.

Ripened Berhi dates

After the fast…then feast, then shop or visit friends and relatives to exchange gifts. My Lebanese friend, an excellent cook sends me some virtual treats 🙂  Kunafeh is a rich luxurious dairy dessert popular in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and the neighbouring countries. Filled with ricotta cheese and decorated with crusty shredded khadaif noodles, Kunafeh is laced with plenty of sugar syrup and rose water….yumm..melting in the mouth!

Dessert -Kunafeh

Helwat (Halwa) El Jabeen

Another friend from the Gulf region sends photos of her family reunion feast. They have been busy preparing sev ke ladoos (vermicelli coated mawa or cheese balls), almond filled Dates and a plate of Kharak laced with mawa, pistachios and almonds and popular Sheer Khurma. Nutritious, healthy and filling desserts! Thanks Nisrin…I wish I could come home to wish you all and enjoy the feast.

IMG_4185

Enjoy the food feasts, shopping and visits to family and friends this festive season. It’s a shame I’m not courageous to visit the famous Begum Baazar market in Hyderabad, where Ramzan charity markets are set up. The surging crowds are a bit daunting now.

Till then…Ramzan Kareem.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

‘Tis the Summer Season. ‘Tis the Mango Season

Standard

Never mind the scorching heat, power trips, dry skin and irritable eyes during summer. The one thing that blesses us is the season’s fruit. Delicious, aromatic mangoes!

Young and old, healthy and sick, rich Nawabs and roadside labourers,all lovingly eye the abundant springing  blossoms of the mango tree. Amidst the dark green foliage the koel or cuckoo bird sings melodiously. The intense heat of summer is conducive for ripening the fruit. From raw green to mellow yellow to a golden-yellow, mangoes hang down weighing the branch.

Though mangoes are cultivated in Brazil, Australia, Philipines and Thailand, the Indian mango reigns supreme for its taste and aroma.The Mughal emperor Akbar was so fond of mangoes, he planted 100,000 trees in Darbhanga, Bihar. Mangoes were traded between erstwhile Nawab families or given as bountiful presents during ceremonies. Emperor Aurangzeb, was also fond of mangoes. The Maratha kings presented him a large fruit container. The story describes how clever Sivaji Maharaj, his arch rival, outwitted the emperor and entered his palace to surprise his enemy, just by hiding his small stature between that aroma filled container!

On a festive note -Hindu homes, puja altars and door entrances are decorated with the foliage. The fruit along with fragrant flowers is offered at temples. It is given to pregnant women for a healthy and sweet nutrition and delivery.

http://www.yogapoint.com/inspiring_stories/Mango_tree.htm

This summer I made endless visits to the market and newly set up organic shops to buy a variety of fruit. Childhood memories of climbing up mango trees or pelting it with stones to drop raw fruit came fresh to mind as my friend showed photos of the tree in the backyard and the multitude of black ants creeping along the trunk. Mangoes, mangoes everywhere.

I leave you with a few photographs taken at various regional markets.

Haapus or Alphonso Mango from coastal Maharashtra ( and Mumbai)

Alphonso Mango

The Alphonso Mango is often called Áam ka Raja’ or King of mangoes. Broad top tapering to a rounded end, a smooth skin and richly aromatic is the Haapus. The sweet fleshy pulp is perfect for eating on its own or add it to desserts like shrikhand to make aamrakhand. Locally grown near Ratnagiri, the mango has become widely cultivated for export all over the world.

Dussheri – from north India

Smaller in size this mango grows all over North India. As it ripens late in June and July, it extends a ‘bonus eating season.’ It’s sweet hairy pulp oozes out when softly pressed, loosening the pulp from skin. A children’s delight -this mango brings fun to the dining table as children dribble the juicy pulp and colour their mouths orange in a competitive and fun eating time, all between laughter and giggles.

Banganapalli or Safeda. – from Central India, Andhra and Karnataka

 

A large and oval-shaped mango. It often weighs up to 200 grams each. The pale yellow skin is not as thick as the Alphonso. The centre seed is large and the pulp is fleshy. Slicing it neatly is the best way to serve this very popular variety. Chill it, serve it…eat it!

Totapuri – from Andhra, Gujarat and Karnataka

You probably guessed right. The name ‘tota’ is Hindi for Parrot. The mango has a slightly pointed tip like the beak of the parrot. This variety is best for salads and pickles, not so sweet to bite into.

Rasalu or Ras Bahar from Andhra and Karnataka

Greenish yellow skin with a peck of orange at the top end this mango feels soft when ripe. Best eaten by fidgety fingers that deftly press the fruit to release the pulp. Hmm…smack your lips and enjoy the sweetness.

For a more elegant serve – press out the pulp, add a dash of cold milk, a pinch of salt to balance the taste. Serve refrigerated. Serve with hot poori (Indian fried bread).

Rasalu Mango and fruit pulp

For a recipe of raw mango see here.

Isn’t your mouth watering to buy your favourite mango variety? Don’t forget to send some to your friend (or arch-enemy:) and bring out the smiles.

What is your favourite variety ? Where is it grown?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

 

Postcards from Nagpur: City Market and a Town Market

Standard

I take you through a photo journey of two markets, one in the city and other in a small town. One in Nagpur city, other on its outskirts on the highway in Kanhan. One brings out quiet, authoritative mood, the  other a lively, colourful ambience. Oranges, the winter’s bounty was  abundant in both, yet the city market stocked the round, unblemished oranges neatly piled high. In the street, roadside stalls, pushers and peddlars made brisk business.

Situated in central India, Nagpur is not only the winter capital of the state of Maharashtra but also the orange capital of India. It has the right winter temperatures, light rainfall and proper soil to grow this fruit. Famed for its juicy, thin skinned, sweet oranges this home grown mandarin fruit finds its way to local markets as well as the international stalls. Haldiram’s, a popular food enterprise has specially made an ‘Orange Barfi’ a boiled milk and sugar syrup based sweet dedicated to this city!

Photo courtesy: http://fnw.com/everestorangebarfi

Behind the Nagpur railway station stretches the fruit market. Logistic proximity to the trains that criss cross entire India, with Nagpur as its route centre makes this site more convenient than SitaBuldi market, which caters more to clothing and cotton products.

In the winter season when fruit is bountiful, the best crop is often sent to overseas markets or other parts of India. Sadly, the inferior quality often finds its way to the streets and push carts in Nagpur city, lament the locals. Prices range from Rupees 120 -180 per dozen, and are in fact nothing cheaper than other city price.

In contrast, here is a street market in the small town of Kanhan.

This industrial town takes its name from the river Kanhan that flows  through. Kanhan lies on the state highway route from Nagpur to Pench Tiger Reserve. Every weekday the market sets up in different sub areas, thus known by names of the week ‘Som bazzar, Mangal bazaar etc, Wasn’t I lucky to be at the right place at right time!

Street stalls, cycle peddlars, kiosks and push carts all made for a dramatic and hectic scene. Mounds of green peas, white cauliflower buds tight in their green flowery stalks, clusters of neatly arranged ginger and garlic pods sat on jute mats on the street.

In the midst of it all, the mild winter sun made a peep in and out of the clouds.

In and out wandered women in traditional border Nagpuri sarees and bright synthetic modern sarees. Old locals clad in dhoti or shirt and trousers haggled over prices to seek the best bargains.

As my camera took the better of me, passers by looked strangely..’click, click, click.’ Just one more, one more. Finally, a young vendor posed long enough for me, and I snapped up four kilo pea pods in return. Phew! what a task lay ahead to shell the pods for those little, crunchy, sweet peas on my train journey home! 🙂

For a spicy Nagpur style peas snack click here

Peas vendor

Nagpur ….I loved all the fresh vegetables and cotton dress materials much more..than I did your oranges. Didn’t get time to taste that ever so popular Barfi too. So next year, juicy, sweet Nagpur oranges will be bought fresh..right in my city!

Have you ever been to Nagpur? What did you see or buy?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

Crochet: Baby Items

Standard

What’s on my hook? Recently I’ve been doing simple, small crochet projects for babies. Left over yarn scraps and a ball of baby soft wool both came in handy. Here’s what I learned.

Baby Girl Crochet Dress

  1. Browse and research well on You Tube, Etsy, Ravelry, CrochetCrowd on FB and other sites for patterns.
  2. Do a proper read through to understand/grasp.
  3. As a beginner, choose something simple and easy to finish within a time frame.
  4. If trying out a new stitch, make a small tester sample. What lessons did you learn about the hook size, yarn tension, suitability of colour, yarn and pattern for that particular piece?
  5. Adjust and apply this knowledge.
  6. Take a T shirt or dress of the required size, or visit a children’s shop for accurate measuring. Some sites offer details of size, some are dodgy.

This dress is worked top – down. Begin at neckline with 55 chains (or as required) and work a single crochet into each for a firm neckline. Add next 3-4 rows of dc.

crochet-baby-dress

Pattern from WoolyWondersCrochet.

A good idea is to watch the tutorial video few times, if you are a beginner, to understand the process. Choosing pastel or soft colours, soft wool is advisable.

Crochet Baby Dress

Crochet Unisex Vest

Baby soft acrylic or cashmere wool is great for this project. Decide the size ( a plus ) is always better. You want the piece worn for couple of years at least. The reward for your time, skill and patience!

I made up this pattern ‘on the go’ to practice a variety of stitches, see the outcome of design and texture and become a sampler vest.  Finished size measures 9 and 1/2 inches across and 13 inches height.

Basket weave stitch and double crochet

Row 1: Slip knot and chain to make size of 9 and 1/2 inches across.

Row 2: Add 3-4 rows of single crochet in each chain stitch, this serves as a  border.

Row 3 – 12: Basket weave stitch till the required height is reached. Chain 2, at end of each row and turn. Measure and adjust using sample shirt.

Row 13: Slip stitch into first 3-4 stitches, this makes sleeve indent. Then dc all the way across. Last 3-4 stitches slip stitch for sleeve indent.

Add more rows, measure height and make neckline. Add dc to both sides to make straps, add buttonhole by making 2-3 chain stitch /loop.

2 sides of crochet vest

There are many YouTube crochet vest sites for detailed patterns.

Best of luck! Do add a photo of your work.

Please do not link or copy this site. Please contact me for using any photos or material. I devote much patience and time for making this blog and I’m happy to share it.

Do share your work with me too.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

Festival Market: Shivo Hum, Shivo Hum (Mahashivratri Celebrations)

Standard

Har har Mahadeo’ chants fill the streets in India today. Loudspeakers  blare musical songs ‘KailashNath ki jai’ and ‘Shiv Aarti’ as Hindus gear up for  a night long celebration or for the spiritual seekers an ‘Awakening.’

Today is Maha Shivratri – the long night of worshipping Lord Shiva, (one of the three Gods of Trinity Brahma, Vishnu,Shiva). It is the day when Shiva is said to have performed the mythical Tandav Nritya– the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

Special days bring a festive cheer and colour at any market, isn’t it? Here in India today, fruits of many colours – red and green watermelons, golden rock melon, purple grapes, brown Dates, reddish sweet potato tubers fill the street stalls. As many Hindus fast on this day partaking fruit, Dates and milk and honey – so the markets cater to specific needs.

Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram – Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

Lord Shiva the mystical, celibate, powerful of mind, the God of the yogis has much mass appeal. Call Him Mahadeo, Bhairav, Kalanetra,Gangadhara, KailashNath, Pranava or Rudra… or any one of the 108 names, it is HE whom one’s mind should dwell upon tonight, to gather up the upsurge of energy created through meditation and prayer.

Photo courtesy: Internet( Times of India)

To capture some photos of the colourful spring flowers, prayer items on sale and feel the synergy of devout people thronging to the market, was indeed a fruitful morning. Black clay pots and Palash flowers (Flame of the forest) were unique, specific ‘buy of the day.’

street market outside temple

street market outside temple

Spring time stalls selling melons, bananas, rock melon and winter leftover fruit of grapes and apples was a good mix. Sweet Potato tubers and Dates are specially consumed during fasting providing quick energy.

Street stalls selling fruits and sweet potato tubers

Street stalls selling fruits and sweet potato tubers

Black earthern Matka /claypot

Black earthern Matka /claypot

Special grass buds, crimson -red Palash flowers for Shiv puja, milk bottles, black clay pots for carrying payasam (a milk and jaggery pudding ) made an interesting addition to the usual mounds of orange marigold and white tube rose flowers. ‘Palash flowers are offered to Lord Shiva and Parvati ..special today ‘ said the woman vendor, prodding all the married women into buying it specially today.

Don’t worry if you forgot to bring a bag. This little fellow, wants to make a quick sale, as it’s a school holiday.

Vendor boy selling plastic bags for Rupees 10/ each

Vendor boy selling plastic bags for Rupees 10/ each

By night, twinkling lights will decorate temple exteriors, loudspeakers will blare musical chants, people carrying pots of payasam and plate filled with coconut and flowers will await their turn patiently at the temples. Street markets get brighter and busier as last minute business intensifies. It’s a hard day’s work, especially if one has to do the ‘jagran’ spiritual chanting and singing tonight.

Photo Courtesy: Internet ( Times of India)

Mahashivratri has many symbolisms and stories attached to it, explains the Isha Foundation:

  • Among householders, it is considered the night when Shiva married Parvati.
  • Among the ambitious, Shiva is said to have defeated all his enemies on this day.
  • For spiritual seekers, this is the day when Shiva merged with Mount Kailash.

My puja plate is ready for tonight. Many worshippers will throng the temples, others will sit or attend quiet meditation, and still others may try to find out the meaning behind all these celebrations and rituals.

Shivo Hum, Shivo Hum. The beauty of Self Realization.

Plate of puja offering

Plate of puja offering

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

World Palate Recipes: Sagan Ni Sev (Parsi Style)

Standard

Go to any Parsi household on a Sagan, auspicious day you will always find a big bowl of Sev or vermicelli at the table. Thanks to my Parsi friend, for inviting me to lunch and specially making this nutty sweet Sev. She reminisced how her mother always made Sev for birthdays or Sagan and garnished it with plenty of pistachios, raisins and almonds. ‘Bananas and mithoo dahi, sweet yoghurt was served too’ she added.

Parsi Sev (Vermicelli)

Parsi Sev (Vermicelli)

Iranians (Persians) were involved in trade with India since many centuries. The Parsi from Iran seeking refuge from the Islamic invasion landed in Gujarat, India. Their Zoroastrian faith shared much in common with that of the Hindus. On arrival in Gujarat, Jadi Rana the local ruler refused them entry and sanctuary to these warrior-like people. But soon the priests convinced the ruler that the Parsi would be ‘like sugar in a full cup of milk, adding sweetness but not causing it to overflow.’ Jadi Rana ordered them to adopt the local dress, customs and adapt the cuisine to blend with the Gujrati locals.

Though the Parsi prefered meat and fish they gradually incorporated local cereals, pulses and masalas into their cuisine. However the Persian ingredients of apricots, pistachios and nuts remained a favourite and a distinct reminder of their origins.

                           Dessert Recipe:  Sagan ni Sev

Be liberal with ghee, and have plenty of patience while cooking!

Ingredients

1 packet thin vermicelli

5-8 spoons of pure Ghee (clarified butter)

water as needed

Sugar 5-8 tsps. or suit your taste

For garnish: saffron strands, pistachios, almond flakes, raisins.

Nutmeg and cardamom powder (jaiphal and elaichi)

Ingredients for Sev

Ingredients for Sev

Method:

Crush the vermicelli lightly, leaving medium long strands and keep aside. It will shorten while roasting. Put a big pan on the stove, put 4-5 spoons of ghee and melt it. Add the nuts mixture, roast lightly. The aroma soon fills the kitchen space:). Keep a small amount aside for garnish.

Now add the crushed vermicelli and roast lightly, adding a dollop of ghee again. Sprinkle over some sugar, the Sev gets a dark colour due caramelized sugar.

Sprinkle few drops of water, just enough to wet the mixture. Caution! too much water will make a ‘londho’ or lump! Keep stirring to even out the mixture. Cover for few minutes.

Remove cover, add another dollop of ghee and the Sev is now ready cooked and lightly crisp. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powder. Garnish with nuts mixture. Remove in a decorative plate.

Serve warm. Enjoy the distinct Persian flavour while narrating the ‘Quessa e Sanjan’ and Jadi Rana’s story, just like my friend did.

Sev. (Parsi style)

Sev. (Parsi style)

 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

World Palate Recipes: Matar Chatpata, Spicy Peas Nagpur Style

Standard

Recently while travelling by train, I had fun watching people eating food at stations along the way. Though stalls or kiosks sold essentials like water bottles, biscuit packs, fruit and namkeen or salty fried food, it was the local peddlar and chaiwala who were the most sought after. As one travels the vast Indian country by train – a great gastronomic journey unravels, local specialties adding colour and flavour!

At Nagpur station, the arriving train from Delhi stopped for 2 minutes. After having eaten paneer, parathas, kachori from Delhi, it was time to taste local Nagpur food. Saoji cuisine, a very spicy and masala laden cuisine is popular in Nagpur. The special spices used in making the gravy of Saoji food include black pepper, dry coriander, bay leaves, grey cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ample use of Khus -khus or poppy seeds and powdered coconut. This is mostly used for Mutton or chicken non vegetarian food preparations.

Today at the station, I tasted a local winter favourite – Matar Chatpata. Matar or spicy peas, sold for Rs. 10 in small plastic cups by the local vendor. Peas grow plentiful in winter season, largely in North India. Shelling peas often transforms into a bonding household activity, wherein the family gathers around a charpai or mat. Nagpur people like their food chatpata – spicy and tangy. Saoji cuisine is NOT for the faint hearted, beware!

Train Station food - Peas Chatpata

Train Station food – Peas Chatpata

Matar Chatpata – Nagpur Style.

Not for the faint hearted! So do adjust the chilli and spice!

Ingredients

1/2 kg shelled peas (or 1 pack frozen peas)

1 medium onion

2-3 green chillies ( adjust to your taste!!)

1/2 lime

salt as needed

1/4 inch ginger,

1 tsps. cumin seeds

1 teaspoon cooking oil

fresh coriander for garnish – optional

Ingredients for Matar (Peas)Chatpata

Ingredients for Matar (Peas)Chatpata

Method:

Shell the peas from the pod and boil in water till medium soft. Drain and keep aside. Coarsely grind the chilli, ginger and some salt. Keep aside. Lightly roast the cumin seeds to let out the aroma. Coarsely crush them, once cool. Cut lime in half or wedges, remove the seeds. Remove the top skin of onion and chop lengthwise.

Place large, thick bottom wok or pan on stove and pour required amount of cooking oil. Add the chopped onion and chilli -ginger paste and roast lightly till strong aroma fills your kitchen. Keep tossing, add little salt to avoid browning.

Add the boiled peas and roasted cumin powder. Toss lightly, adjust salt and chilli to taste. Break off stem and leaves of fresh coriander coarsely, and garnish the pea preparation.

For a rustic look -serve in small individual eco friendly cups made from dry leaves (check local markets). Squeeze a dash of lemon before serving.

Enjoy the hot chilli taste on the palate – toned down by sweet peas and tangy lemon. Ooooooh, hot,hot beware !!

Matar(peas) Chatpata

Matar(peas) Chatpata

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

In Pursuit of Self Awareness …..in 2016

Standard

This morning on my walk, I looked up at the tall Eucalyptus or Nilgiri tree. It soared high. A faint aroma from the leaves filled the air. Parts of the old, silvery bark lay on the ground below, while the tree almost weeped as the trunk was peeling away. Tender, beige new skin making its appearance from within.

Nilgiri tree bark

Nilgiri tree bark

Taking in the aroma, a thought passed my mind. Can I too shed my old, negative and weary thoughts? Can I bloom with rejuvenated spirit into the New Year ? Can I too have aroma in my life and share it with others?

Come December, another year closes upon us. We are busy with resolutions, reflections, travel plans, financial notes, meeting our loved ones, doing charity, finish reading a book or adding the last row of stitches to the cardigan … a rush to complete the unfinished!

Year 2016 brought me a fair share of happy and challenging times. Quality time spent with family, caring for elders, learning new recipes and listening to (other’s) travel tales (for a change:) Crochet, books and friends brought the respite during stressful moments. Reciting my stotras or prayers while making small hand made gifts made time meaningful.

crochet-lace-edge

As a girl, I remember standing in a queue to buy movie tickets or sugar from the ration shop. That was in 1970’s! Of late, standing in long snaking queues outside banks or ATM’s seems to be the need of the day in India. Thanks to the bold move of de-monetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 by the government, the country is bent on eradicating corruption and black money. I admired volunteers who distributed water and biscuits to tired people in the long queues as well as praising the over worked staff. Reach out wherever and when, don’t wait for some exotic place.

India’s Currency Crunch:What are People in the Vegetable Markets Saying?

New Year, new ideas, new resolutions! But how many do we really succeed at? Well, at the beginning of 2016, I started a new series:Focus 12 with much excitement. Apologies, dear readers. I have not completed the intended 12 posts.

Focus 12 : Markets as Fun, Outdoor Classroom

Focus 12: Feel, Smell, Eat What’s in Season at the Market.

‘At the table with friends and family, you do not become old’… an Italian proverb.

Indian hospitality is known for inviting people to their homes. In fact, it’s rude not to burp after a meal in some communities, as it shows the host has not fed his guest sufficiently! At home, I’ve been busy trying out new variations to old recipes. The fruity twist I gave to a simple kheer, rice pudding was delicious. Though the kheer doesn’t freeze /stay fresh for many days, the pulpy sitaphal or custard apple lent a good flavour.

World Palate Recipes: Nawabi Style Sitaphal Phirni ( Custard Apple and Rice Pudding)

Festivals add cheer, colour and uphold traditions. Be it Halloween, Diwali or Christmas.

Year End and Festive Christmas Markets

Festive Market: Light up for Deepavali

As we fill our own homes with twinkling lights and invite family and friends to plentiful food, a thought goes out to those in need – homeless, disjoint families, children of war zones or devastating earthquakes. Now’s the time to look up worthy NGO’s and organizations and make our contributions. Share and care.

poinsettia-bloom

That brings us to Christmas and New Year. The bright red Poinsettia, in my neighbour’s garden is in full bloom, its red leaves(bracts) adding much Christmas colour. The story of a poor boy who offered roadside weeds to the God in church is a remarkable story of pure love and humble spirit. It was those weeds that bloomed into red and green flowers, known as Poinsettia!

A  VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR  2017

Dear readers, fellow bloggers, family and friends.

May we all try to emulate the Eucalyptus tree. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India’s Currency Crunch:What are People in the Vegetable Markets Saying?

Standard

‘When it rains lemons, make lemonade’ is an age old saying. In my case, it was tomatoes. Vegetable prices had dropped 20 – 50 percent after the demonetization of currency. The evening of November 8, 2016 made financial history in India as Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 suddenly became just paper! The nation was in shock – a sleepless night for rich and poor.

Television, radio and social media were abound with stories and jokes within minutes. Two days later I heard of truckloads of vegetables lying in docks and containers in a waste as traders had no cash to buy and no time to stand in long queues to exchange old notes for new currency.

A visit to the Bowenpally wholesale market in Hyderabad would give me the current picture, I decided. I parked my car and decided to explore the big storage and distribution yard. The market yard is open all days of the week from 4 am. The local municipal corporation has made adequate provision for a canteen and resting rooms to  ease traders, farmers and loaders.

market-entrance-gate

 

canteen-building

The canteen building

The canteen offers subsidised Telugu /Andhra meals and tiffins. Large trucks heavy with vegetables in jute sacks stood parked one behind another. The central courtyard was surrounded with raised platforms housing trading shops that were storage and distribution points.

This morning, around 10 am I sensed an air of uneasy calm, instead of the usual hustle bustle. Over morning cups of chai loaders and traders were discussing cash and sale issues.

  • How do we buy our daily bread?
  • What do we do with the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes?
  • What will be the impact on vegetable sales? A dip in profits? Rotten unsold vegetables?
  • Will the real ‘black money’ marketers be caught?
  • What is the motive of the government is stopping the use of these notes?

loaders-sittign-idle

I crossed my way through the maze of smaller pick up trucks, heaps of pumpkins and white gourds, jute sacks and idle loaders who posed for photos. Some were wondering what a well dressed woman is doing in the midst of all the market trade. Nagamma, a local vendor said ‘ le lo Amma..sasta bikta hai’ which translates as ‘buy cheaply Madam, vegetables are soon rotting so selling cheap.’

Lingaiah and Ramaih two brothers who are part-timeloaders went out of job for past two days, as sale of vegetables slumped. Others shook out Rs.1,000 note folding it into a paper cone to fill peanuts, and laughed jokingly! A thousand Rupees and no takers! Paper money! Even in the canteen and adjoining rest rooms no one accepted the demonetised money and village traders suddenly were cash strapped – no money in smaller denomination to buy food or pay for rest rooms. Another young vendor showed me 25 kilo tendli or gherkins in sacks that sold at Rs. 1,000 now had no buyers. A whopping loss of trade in a minute of announcement!

jute-sacks-awating-loading-into-lorry

 

loaders-loading-trucks

Tomatoes that were selling at Rs. 20 per kilo were down to Rs. 8-10 per kilo, so also fresh french beans, lady fingers and broad beans. One vendor smiled jokingly and asked ‘Madam free chai if you ONLY show me the new 2,000 currency note the banks are issuing.’A restaurant owner who regularly buys vegetables in bulk here moaned ‘We have been affected in the past three days as the vegetable markets are not accepting 1,000 and 500 notes. We have few new 2,000 notes and we are finding it difficult to buy vegetables in the wholesale market.’

500-and-1000-notes-what-to-do

Picking up my 5 kilos of juicy red tomatoes (and conjuring up  recipes) I walked to the car. The plight of the cash strapped vendors and reminders of long queues outside banks and ATM’s was a small price to pay for the bold move by the government in a bid to track down black money. India will now witness a huge surge in restructuring payments, transparent economy and educating the poor towards a cashless society with new bank accounts. Demonetisation will have its say in the markets and streets of India for some time now.

Enter plastic cards! Welcome to digital age for one and all!

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer