The curse of an anxious mind

I never knew my life in my 30s would be like this. I mean, I’m happy to have an extra supportive family and ever so lovely husband, but if you look closer at me, I have really lost it all. The dreams, the rebelliousness, the constant riots of laughter… all seem to be lost. And here’s what has actually taken a toll on me: anxiety.

Living alone with my husband in a different city, having no great work at hand, and no friends with whom I can have a heart-to-heart, or share a few weird habits like listening to rock music, cribbing about life, etc. has shaped my personality to what has it is today. I don’t even want to look into the mirror. I only see hopelessness, so much so that my attitude towards life has gone down. I can never be able to see the glass half-full. It’s all empty for me. And I really don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. That’s what. And it would be safe to say that I need to find help, think positive and let go of the depressed thoughts that rule my mind.

What’s going to happen next? Will there be anything good for me? Will I fall in love with the city I live in? Will I ever be able to do what I want to do in life? Learning to dance, singing my heart out, being in touch with the magazine world, and creating beautiful memories with friends… can I even see these things happening to me ever again? Will the people around me like me? Can I have a happy home that I’m not running away from? May be yes. May be no.

I tried a few things to get over with over-thinking and to divert my mind, but really, nothing seems to work. It’s all bogus for me. The art classes, the heaps of books and the YouTube videos of awesome people… nothing seems to inspire me.

I’m at my mother’s place these days, and I can say, the people whom I know since decades cannot understand what’s wrong with me. Why is she so negative in life? Where has her spark gone? She has become so dull. These are the things I can hear around me in spite of no one telling me anything. And I agree with their reactions. I have lost all my confidence. The happy smile that I proudly used to put on my face is gone. Life seems to be stuck in a muddy place.

But I also think I should see what’s with me and record my thoughts. And I don’t want to stop writing, come what may. Dying with unaccomplished dreams is easy, hoping for good things in life is tough, and may be I need to be at it. Need to find some calm back in life. And live with a mind that’s alive!

Because things could be worse.

Anyway.

As I said, I’m at my mother’s place these days. And today, I tried to make some Thecha. A green chilli chutney (kind of) that is commonly made in Marathi households. It was my first time, and it didn’t turned out to be good, just edible if I may say.

If you’re into spicy food, do try it. But let me tell you that it has a strong taste of groundnuts also, which you might like or not. I’m okay with it. Actually the first time I tried Thecha was at Grant Road, Mumbai. I was at a fashion shoot, and my editor made me taste it. She had ordered it from somewhere in the area. I was really hesitant to try it, but I absolutely loved it. Till now, I haven’t yet tasted the same Thecha but many other versions of it. These versions have almost failed in my eyes. And this one, was edible, that’s it.

Here’s what went wrong. I asked my sister-in-law to grind it into a fine paste in the grinding jar. You need to hand-pound the green chillies for an authentic flavour. The chillies should overpower it; in my case today, the lemon juice took the focus. And the groundnuts should only add a texture; too much of it can also take from the chutney. Do you have it in you to try it and nail it? Let me know how it goes.

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Recipe: Thecha

This recipe was given to me by a former magazine editor I worked with a few years back. Her name is Archana Pai Kulkukarni, and I’m thankful to her for a many things, and of course, this. She didn’t mention cumin seeds, though; I just added it.

Ingredients

¾ cup – roughly chopped green chillies (the medium-spicy one)
a little less than ¼ cup – roasted groundnuts (with no skin)
1 tsp – lemon juice
a few sprigs of coriander leaves
salt to taste
a pinch of cumin seeds (optional)
1 tsp – oil
¼ cup – garlic flakes

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Method

1. On a hot griddle (tawa), roast the roughly chopped green chillies, groundnuts, a few sprigs of coriander leaves and garlic flakes with some a hint of oil. In about 12 to 15 minutes, after you’ve kept roasting the mixture, turn the flame off. Let it cool in a plate.
2. Now, in a mortar and pestle, add in the ingredients you just roasted with some salt, lemon juice, and some more coriander leaves. Serve with hot Bhakhri rotis (as my editor recommended; we might not work together anymore, but she will always be my editor).

Daily inspiration

IMG_20170904_203540_587 - CopyMonotony. We certainly need to strive hard to break it, constantly. There are so many things that can stress you out. Sometimes, you can’t stop thinking about how things could be better. But, then, you have to let go of your worries, and start breathing; once again.

As a homemaker, and, now, as a freelance writer, I have to find joy in every household chore. Cooking, however, is something that takes a lot of my mental work. ‘What should I cook today?’ is the question that kills my mind every morning. I do enjoy cooking; and when I don’t, I feel that something is missing; but, cooking, as a daily chore can be extremely monotonous. And, many a time, I fail to live up to it.

And, come on, I can’t be making pasta, hot and sour soup, Japanese-style salad or a chia seed drink daily to feel better. I have to face the veggies! Before preparing every meal, I see the veggies in the fridge and find none of which I feel like eating. Creativity and veggies hardly go hand in hand during the week, for me, at least.

Nonetheless, when you play with textures and flavours, you can, I believe, break the monotony. We never got new items to eat every week in my mum’s kitchen. But, still, almost all the dishes that she made, had us kids drool them. Like this Mirchi ki sabzi.

It looks hot, but it isn’t. It is tangy in taste and soft in texture (can be mashed easily) and goes perfectly with my roti or rice. What I really like about it is that it doesn’t go stale easily. So, I always end up enjoying it the following day also. I can imagine, in a climate like that of Jaiselmer’s, this dish fits aptly.

Till date, I haven’t been able to crack my mum’s exact recipe, but, that said, I’m not afraid of trying it again an again. So, the next time you see these green chillies in your vegetable market, add some in your cart/basket as well. I hope you try this recipe, and feel a little better about the ‘daily cooking’ process. Remember, we have to constantly break the monotony, or else. Well, or else, you might end up picking up the phone and making the food orders ever so often. What do you think?

Recipe: Mirchi ki sabzi (green chilly sabzi)

Ingredients

7 to 10 green chillies (these are thick and long green chillies that are milder than the small ones; don’t mix them with fat green chillies that we use for mirchi pakodas)
1 tsp black sesame seed powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
½ tsp mango powder (optional; I didn’t use it in my recipe)
2 tsp peanut oil or any oil
salt to taste
2 tbsp cream (I used homemade malai); you could use milk if you don’t have fresh cream
½ tsp cumin seeds (optional)
2 pinches of asafoetida
¾ tsp turmeric power
Method

1. When you buy your green chillies, wash them and make sure all the water has dried up before you make this sabzi. Now, chop them and throw them inside a strainer. Make sure there is a plate below. You basically have to remove the white seeds inside the green chillies; so, you can keep moving these chillies lightly in the strainer, so that the seeds separate.
2. Now, heat oil in a small skillet. Add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, turmeric powder; stir for 2 seconds and add the chopped green chillies. Make sure the heat of the stove is not on high. If I don’t pay attention, I end up coughing.
3. Stir it for a few times till you see the chillies more than half cooked. Now, add the spices and salt. The coriander and sesame seed powders are the winners of the dish.
4. Once you stir in the spices and let them cook for about 3 minutes, add a tsp of malai or cream. Now, add as your dish requires. This will soften the texture and reduce the heat of the chillies as well.
5. After about 3 more minutes of stirring, switch off the flame. I usually have this with hot whole wheat or sorghum rotis.