Khoka, one of the wonders of Khejri tree

During our summer vacations in Jaiselmer, we kids munched on these Khokha pods and spit its seeds aside. It was something that was done while playing or talking to the cousins. It requires no cooking or washing. Khoka is mostly sweet in taste but not overtly sweet. When the Leeli Sangri (the green pods) grow up on the Khejri tree, they become stiff in texture (when not plucked from the tree) and are called Khoka.

When a bag of Khoka is kept in a room, its sweet fragrance takes over so much so that you can almost find it difficult to bear; but not me! I love it! My Nani got this bag full of Khoka for her eldest son, Deenu (one of my dear Mamas).

The nearby deserts of Jaiselmer enjoy the goodness of Khejri tree; each stage of the tree gives back to its caring keepers. No wonder people worshipped trees back then. And for someone living in the desert, each tree mattered so much!

It’s her day

My blog is all about my mother; it’s my personal journal where I save my mother’s recipes. When I got married into a different community and in a different state, I started to notice the difference and valued Marwari food, especially my mum’s hand-cooked food even more. She never gave us stale or leftover food; she knows how to cook a meal in 15 mins and we have always had freshly made food on our plates. Food trends never mattered for her, but native grains did. In spite of having three kids, mum managed the kitchen extremely well. Abundance, that’s what her kitchen is all about. Abundance of food to feed the family, nearby animals and birds and the underprivileged. Even when we did face a financial crunch, mum never let us feel that we have less; our platter was always full with healthy and flavourful food. One thing I have inherited from her is her love to feed the family and friends without praising herself. Good food is meant to feed souls not your ego; and she is the one who taught me this. For my mother and I, it’s not about how perfect the food is but how we can share with more people around us. I hope I succeed in my endeavour to save all her recipes through my blog; it might take years, but I hope I do my best. Can I cook like her? Not in this lifetime, but I will keep trying till I breathe my last. And so, today, I want to wish all the mothers of the universe, on earth and in heaven, a happy Mother’s Day! A mother’s magic never ends even if she is far away amidst the stars or just a feet away.

Standing in the queue

I paint my dreams auburn, when I know they’ll never come true, when I know they’ll be broken again.

Sometimes, I just feel life is about sailing by.

But if you live a slow death, yes, there can be such times, you need to look at the other side of life.

Look into the mirror, see those freckles and eye circles, the strands of white hair that act like a crown on your head, that chapped smile and hopeless eyes.

And force a smile. May be, just for one more instance, pray, saying that this time, God will paint your dream pink and make it true.

Words

“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”

– Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre (also quoted in the Netflix series, Anne with an E).

The Glass Powder

They say time heals everything. Every wound. Every cut. Every scar. But, I somehow, don’t think anything can ever heal the minute broken pieces of the glass powder. When pressed against the skin, it can hurt the most. And when there are a million pieces of glass broken into a powder, the jar can never be kept close. Never. It has to be abandoned. Immediately. And forgotten. Wish, we could abandon our dreams too. Forever.

Words

“Our lives are not in the lap of the gods but in the hands of our cooks. Hence befriend your cook because so much of the enjoyment of life lies within his power to give or take away as he sees fit. It is the invariable test of a wise man whether he has good food at home or not.”

– Confucian (Chinese teacher) view of food (as read in the book, The Essential Andhra Cookbook)

Words

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing direction. You change direction, but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverised bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.”

– Haruki Murakami in Kakfa on the Shore