Sunday, November 07, 2010

My Cup Runeth over - Happy Diwali and a Happy Gujarati New year!

I am inturrupting my Terra Madre posts with this post because could not let Diwali go by without wishing everyone a Happy Diwali.

I almost did, which is why this post is so late in going up but then I just couldn't.

I started out on a terrible low. The Munshaw half of my family are in mourning this year, following the death of my brother in July. Technically however, being married, this does not apply to me, since as a married woman I must follow the calender my husband's family follows. But these distinctions and rules laid by society rarely impress themselves on hearts that cry for those who are gone.

But then, as my very wise and gentle husband recently reminded me, it is impossible not to mourn those who are gone, but it is also important to celebrate those who are still here. And it was extremely happy occaission for us in the Ghildiyal home, because our daughter Natasha's birthday was on Diwali day. Natasha reminds me of Tinkerbell, like Tinkerbell scattered fairydust on everyone and made them fly, Natasha scatters smiles that make our hearts soar gladly. And if there was anyone who would have wanted my children to enjoy Diwali in his absence it would have been Ashu Bhai.

I cooked up a feast of family favourites while Shekhar baked a cake for Natasha and then the kids and I decorated the doorway with rangoli (and I got carried away and decorated everyone's doorways on our floor, while I was at it!). We all got dressed up and suddenly the air of celebration took over. Thanks to President Obama's visit I could not have the Munshaw side over (they live next door to Mani Bhavan and were not allowed to leave) but my mother in law arrived a day ahead and Shekhar who'd been travelling returned the night of Diwali. The Binjolas (perhaps the hottest Dada and Dadi in the world!) came over, my sisters and their husbands joined in the cake cutting ceremony and the Diwali puju via Skype from Melbourne.

And as we sat in our hall and watched the fabulous firworks display outside out 14th floor window I thought back to what I wrote in July - that us women have a responsibility. On our shoulders lies the responsibility of caring for the fabric of our families. Each time it is damaged, or rendered to pieces, we have to pick up the fragments and put them together, make sense of edges that have no match, stitch together tears that are irreparable, fix frayed seams. And then, when the fabric is complete it is up to us to embroider it with new happy memories and beautiful smiles. I made a start toward that this Diwali. I had as many of those I loved
together as I could manage and though we were a little late getting started on our celebrations and they did happen a little frantically at the last minute it all came together perfectly and I am sure those that have left us were looking down on us happily with thier blessings.

Waking up to messeges from friends all over Mumbai the next morning (Thank you all) full of happiness that Masala trails had been covered in both DNA Viva and HT Cafe together was the perfect Diwali present from God! (That he has topped with an article in Delhi's HT today!) My cup runeth over, truly. My mother always said do your best and leave the rest to God. She was right! If one puts one's best into something, God will do the rest! And I am blessed to have His guidance in being able to be the best PERSON that I can be!

Vatana Kachori and Aloo ka saag
This is a signature recipe I created with my Cook Kavita. It marries crispy pea stuffed Gujarati Vatana Ghughra she learnt from a previous Gujju employer but done in a Modak style preperation that she is more familiar with and after I made it with her, I married it with Garhwali Aloo ka Jhol. I also serve imli and corriander chutney on the side to add the chaat touch. It gives you a new take on the poori and mattar ka saag combination and made the perfect Diwali Brunch followed by orange scented pistachio stuffed Karanjies or Ghughras. Try it out sometime.

makes 18-20, Time 1 hour
For Covering:
1.5 c
3 tablespoons ghee
1/4 teaspoon salt
Oil to deep fry

For Filling:
1-1/4 cup green peas, crushed
Big pinch soda-bi-carb
1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
1/4 cup coconut, grated
salt to taste
1 tablespoon chilli-ginger paste
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of one lemon
pinch of garam masala
2 tablespoons ghee

Heat ghee, add crushed peas and soda-bi-carb. Cook on slow heat, covered with a lid. Stir often so peas are evenly cooked. When the peas are cooked remove from heat and cool. Add coriander leaves, coconut, and all the seasonings. Mix well. Divide into 18 portions. To make pastry covering mixing all the pastry ingredients together into a poori like dough using a little water. Knead well and divide into 18 balls. Roll each ball like a small puri, put one portion of filling inside, fold and stick edges together by making it into a crescent shape. Now decorate the edge by creating designs with your fingers to make ghughara. Deep fry in ghee to light brown, crispiness and serve hot.

Alu tamatar ka jhol


Potatoes - 250 grams
Onion - 50 grams
Tomatoes - 100 grams
Ginger - 2 cm piece (finely chopped)
Garlic - 4 to 5 cloves
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Garam masala powder - ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds - ½ tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp (chopped)
Ghee - ¼ teacup

Put the frying pan on a moderate flame. Pour the ghee and allow it to get hot. Add cumin and fenugreek seeds in the hot oil. When the seeds start crackling add garlic cloves and chopped ginger. Stir-fry till the garlic and ginger turns slightly brownish. Now add chopped onion. Fry until onion becomes tender. Add red chili and turmeric powders, chopped tomatoes, and fry for a couple of minutes, till tomatoes become soft. Add one teacup of water; add pealed and big pieces of potatoes and garam masalla and cook for about 10 minutes in moderate flame. Add 2-tea cup or more water and salt to taste and cook on slow fire for another 10 minutes until potatoes get tender. Remove from fire and sprinkle chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot

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Try it out here:

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