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Sunday, January 25, 2009

A First in my BlogLife....

This, as is evident, is not a FOOD BLOG.

This is a space where I indulge my WHIMS and WISHES...mollycoddle them and pamper them to the hilt.
While browsing through the blogosphere, I came across this food blog - Sudeshna's 'HERE I COOK' which had an event called 'HARVEST : THE FESTIVAL OF RICE'.
Suddenly a brainwave hit me and I thought 'Why not?'
I had a post on a similar topic (RAMBLINGS..) a week or so why not just link it and give the recipe for the Patishaptas I successfully dished out.....

The reason why I chose to make Patishaptas on the Poush Sankranti, as I have already mentioned, was because it was the easiest of all the pitheys and I had all the ingredients at home
Patishaptas are folded Pancakes with coconut and jaggery filling (pur).

So here goes the recipe which is my contribution to 'HARVEST : THE FESTIVAL OF RICE' hosted by Sudeshna of 'HERE I COOK' :
* 1 medium sized Coconut - freshly grated
* Patali Gur (DatePalm Jaggery) - 225gm
* Sugar- 1/2 Cup
* Flour (Maida)- 1 Cup
* Suji or Semolina - 1/2 Cup
* Rice Flour- 1/2 Cup
* Milk - 1.75 - 2 litres
Note:Khoa (dried or thickened milk) is normally used alongwith the Coconut and jaggery to make the filling. I did not have it at home and so thickened a litre of milk to half litre and mixed it while preparing the filling

HOW I PREPARED : Instructions are given in the sequence I prepared
I mixed the Suji and Rice Flour. Then soaked the mixture in adequate milk. Left it aside and got on to work on the Filling.

Took the freshly grated coconut in a wok (Kadai) and added the sugar and 150 gms of jaggery. Stirred it around well. (Sugar provides the binding)
After mixing it considerably well, put the wok containing the mixture on fire and continued stirring.
Added the thickened milk gradually (I was thickening the milk on the other burner while I stirred the coconut, jaggery, sugar mixture) and NOT in one shot.
The stirring and mixing is the most important aspect of making the Pur.
I continued the stirring process for about 40minutes, till the coconut turned a rich brown and became sticky in texture.

-PATISHAPTA BATTER (Continued):Part 2
I added a spoonful of ghee to the Maida and mixed evenly.
Added this to the already milk-soaked mixture of Suji-Rice Flour. Had to mix it well as to ensure no lumps are formed. Added more milk to make the batter of medium consistency so that it spreads evenly on the tawa.
To sweeten the batter, add some broken pieces of jaggery. The batter should be of mild sweetness.


  1. I used a non-stick Tawa (a non-stick frying pan would do fine)
  2. Smeared some oil/ghee (I used ghee....sinfully delightful!!) on the Hot Tawa. (I used the top of a brinjal cut horizontally, with the stalk makes the ghee smearing easy as the stalk acts as a handle)
  3. Poured a ladle of batter and spread it in a circle by tilting the tawa.
  4. Fried in low to medium heat to ensure the patishapta is crisp yet soft. Flipped it over.
  5. Made a snakelike shape with a tablespoonful of Pur and laid it lengthwise as is shown in the pic.
  6. Folded the patishapta and turned it around a bit to give a golden brown look to it.
  7. Served hot!!!
Have a look at the pictures and also at the original post

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Live and Let Live...

STATUTORY WARNING: this is NOT a science blog nor a socio-political one…these are the thoughts of an ordinary person with only the layman’s knowledge of astronomy and evolution.

In an infinite and ever expanding mystery we call the universe, teeming with a billion solar systems containing countless planets, satellites and creatures who may or may not exist, who are we? Where do we figure in this vast and elusive boundary-less expanse of unfathomable space?
From the unicellular prokaryotes of a zillion years ago, the cell-toting technology-crazy organism of the 21st century has come a long long way indeed!

We, the human beings, are the self-proclaimed superior-most of all living beings to have set foot on this planet earth! We made the Gods and Devils. And now we are playing both the GOD and the DEVIL. Our creativity added to earth's beauty and many a heaven on earth was made. And again it was us who transformed the earth into hell.. as we killed, maimed and destroyed nations, regions and fellow humans. We still are…in the name of religion, altruism, diplomacy, fanaticism.

While on one hand, our technological advancements make us Super Powerful, millions are starving or dying for the lack of basic amentities. WHY I wonder?

From the perspective of the entire limitless universe, our planet is not even the size of a speck of dust. We are insignificant...powerless in the greater scheme of things.

-We don’t know how we arrived (the continuous discoveries of physicists and astronomers are part speculation part reality);

-We don’t know how we evolved from the unicellular to the multicellur complexity of our present form (we all are actually agglomeration of cells consisting of electrons, protons and neutrons!!!!!). Who knows what the next form of the evolutionary chain will be...

-We have no idea how many more years Mother Earth can bear our undisciplined and unrestrained treatment of nature and environment before we are subjected to her wrath and fury.
What with the natural disasters becoming rampant, drastic and unwelcome changes in weather conditions, melting of the ice-caps of Mother Earth, doomsday seems to be drawing closer (not the 'closer you and I can even's still lightyears away...but in the universal perspective, that's not too long away!).

For all we know, the lifetime of each planet may be finite. Just as it required a BIG BANG to create us, another BIGGER BANG BANG BANG may be enough to sniff the life out of our beautiful green planet!!

Why I wonder, cant we live in peace, harmony, happiness? Why does history have to repeat itself so often and still we dont learn?
Why cant we all live and let live? Why Why Why???

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Identity Crisis

AcFy5386, aBc123, zzzooouuty, 58756, 9975…. And the list goes on!

Wondering what these alphanumeric gibberish are all about?

THESE are MY identities.

My name, my credentials are meaningless if I do not remember these…these numbers hold the key to my whole it access to my bank account, cash withdrawals, bank details, investment details, viewing utility bills, monthly bill payments, etc etc etc. My email accounts, where I dump all important documents in fear of impending harddisk crashes of my system, are accessible if and only if I remember the series of incomprehensible permutations and combinations of alphanumerics aka PASSWORDS! The weirder the better and safer!!

So as we all know so well, in today’s age of online/tele/mobile transactions, the entire materialistic existence or identity are these passwords and usernames!

What happens if one’s memory is poor and one is unable to recall the right combination at the right time? Nothing.. except you are in the position of a person who has lost his unique key to the unique lock to his own home and is left stranded on the road!

You are probably wondering why I am going on and on about these ubiquitous usernames and passwords with varied names like PIN, TIN, SIN, HIN, BIN..(ok ok I made up some of these!) Well, the following will tell you why ..

Yesterday, due to certain circuit failure of my neurons (or so I presume), my mind blanked out!! Just at the precise moment I swiped my debit card at the ATM machine, my PIN just vanished from my memory!!!! Just like that…and a zillion efforts to recall the oft repeated, intelligently formulated (by me!!!) number, just failed miserably. After three attempts, the account was barred from access and I could not withdraw the cash I desperately needed! I had just Rs.30 in my wallet. Returned home and thought I would inform the telebanking customer care to send a new PIN and dialled the customer service number.

What followed was strange but 100% true…just at the moment I punched my customer ID on the phone at the behest of the automated helpline and was about to dial my TIN, again my mind became a blank and I could not remember the TIN. A bad omen of some impending disaster?? Or sheer coincidence of a series of temporary memory lapses? I couldn’t fathom…This was a number I had been using regularly as my TIN for the past 4-5 years. How could I forget it? I was mad at myself, frustrated and disgusted at my repeated memory loss in a span of half an hour!!

Today morning I could finally get through to the manual operator and got myself a new TIN. But a new PIN would require me to wait for another 7 working days before it reaches my permanent residence (which again is in Calcutta while here I am in another corner of the country). So practically speaking I am cashless for the next 7 days (a slight exaggeration....what are husbands for!!). Only 2 leafs of my cheque book are empty which I have to keep as an emergency!!

Yesterday's incidence shook me up. A simple task came to a halt because my memory failed me. A creepy feeling gave me goosebumps…my identity or access to my identity is dictated and controlled by some strange alphanumeric combinations.
I HAVE AN IDENTITY CRISIS!!!!!! …..And burdened as we are, by the innumerable digits and alphabets, it could happen to ANYONE!


PIN - Personal Identification Number

TIN - Telephone Identification Number

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mothering HANUMAN

Remember my blog entry on School Admissions?
Well…the tension has now reached a peak.
The actual interviews / interaction sessions have begun. And my worst fears are all coming true.
* For 30-40 seats, there are about 1500 applicants, if not more.
* My daughter’s unpredictability is on the rise.
School No.1: She refused to say hello. And that’s not all, upon being offered candies, not only did she grab a handful, she wouldn’t say THANK YOU! We were red-faced with embarrassment.
We didn’t want to create a scene and left it at that. On our way back, when I asked her why she was so unresponsive, her casual “I wasn’t in the mood for conversation” (Kotha bolar mood chhilo na) left me dumbstruck.
School No.2 : While going to the school, I was having my usual chat with my little girl. The normal stuff we talk about everyday on our way to and from her playschool but in a slightly more structured her name and colours and other stuff she may be asked in the interview. She was particpating in her normal enthusiastic manner. I was relieved but the butterflies kept fluttering in my tummy...

When in the room, the friendly teacher, after the initial greetings, asked my daughter her name. After the initial silence, she looked up with an impish grin, her eyes gleaming with mischief and proclaimed “I’m Hanu!!!!!” I CRINGED and nudged her. She clarified in a louder voice..”I’m Hanuman, this is Sita-Ma(pointing towards me) and that’s Ravan (pointing towards my husband)”
The teacher, after a momentary pause, burst out laughing and commented “very imaginative..she's very fond of Ramayana, is she?”

Interviews for School No.3 and 4 are scheduled for next week.

Would you still say that my hypertension is unfounded???
Hanuman : The Monkey God. An important personality in the Indian epic Ramayana.
Ravan : The villain in the Indian epic Ramayana. His ten-headed persona fascinates my little girl
Sita-Ma : The wife of Sri Rama in the Indian epic Ramanayana.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


At the onset wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! Albeit a belated one..

Had been away from blogsphere the past three weeks. Reason? Nothing in general....didnt have the urge to peep into my cyberden. Not that there weren’t any topics to discuss....
Lot of events took place, especially in the India Inc scenario..and the skeletons continue to tumble out even as I write.. but I guess more than enough has been and is being written and spoken about the same.

Frankly I have nothing in particular to jot down.
A holiday midweek (Pongal) is indeed a bonus. So I guess I'll indulge myself and just ramble ....

Yesterday evening, as is my normal routine, I was talking to my Mother over phone and she was expressing regret that we were not around to have the goodies she was preparing on the occasion of 'Poush Sankranti'. As I kept the phone down, and continued with the normal chores, I kept thinking of the regret in her voice.....

Ours is a family where cooking is considered almost fine art. And in both my maternal as well as paternal sides of the family, there is an unwritten rule whereby cooking is not considered a chore but an art form which is ‘performed’ by the 'Kortree' of the family. Coincidentally both my grandmothers were famous in their respective extended families as great cooks and hostesses. My mother and aunts have upheld the tradition to a very large extent. For that matter I guess Bengalis, in general, are foodlovers and Cooking, Feeding others and Eating a wide variety of great food are intrinsic part of the Bong tradition. I guess none but Bongs will spend hours debating, analyzing and in general discussing the finer nuances of the culinary experience.

As for me, I have inherited the love for good food but unlike my grandmothers, mother and aunts, I do not love cooking to distraction. However, thank God that the genes did not desert me completely and despite my lack of fondness for cooking, I can dish out edible and at most times moderately tasty food!!!
Whenever I delegate a portion of the daily cooking to my maid, I do feel a twinge of guilt at not being 100% sincere in carrying on the family tradition..!!

Well, coming back to where I started .... yesterday's conversation with Ma brought back memories of the 'Poush Parbon' celebrations back at home.

What is Poush Parbon in Bengal, is Bihu in Assam, Lohri in the north and Pongal in the South... Traditionally a rural festival celebrated down the ages throughout India, whereby the winter harvest is ushered in with joyous ceremony, now these are social festivities celebrated in moderation in many an urban family.

In Bengal, on the ocassion of Poush Parbon (also known as Poush Sankranti), sweet dishes made of inherently agrarian ingredients like rice flour, coconut, sweet potatoes, datepalm jaggery (patali gur) are used to dish out mouthwatering delicacies. In various nooks and corners of the country, variations of such sweet delights are served during this time of the year. It is inherently a celebration of India’s agrarian roots.
As families are getting scattered, extended families gradually becoming distant memories, our children are growing up in a nuclear world. Rituals and traditions which we took for granted during our growing up years are becoming rarer by the day.

While we are busy embracing the world and are becoming global citizens, we are gradually losing our rich culture, tradition, folklore which lend India its distinct characteristic so unique in the whole wide world.

Being the impulsive person I am, it struck me, that as a mother, I HAD to do something to familiarize my child with atleast glimpses of the traditions I grew up with. This being my maiden independent effort, I was not too adventurous or ambitious. Hence I decided to try out the easiest of the lot of pitheys..i.e Patishapta. And incidentally I had all the required ingredients at home. Reconfirming the recipe from my mother, I got down to work.

Well….the day is over, the patishaptas having been gobbled up and here I am rambling away aimlessly..
But the satisfaction that we all derived eating the hot, moist and soft patishaptas was worth every minute of the few hours spent slogging in the kitchen,

Long live our exotic local delicacies!!!
Poush Sankranti - Poush sankranti or Makar sankranti is a nationwide celebration to usher in the winter harvest. It also marks the Sun's passage from Capricorn to Aquarius and is a very auspicious day in the Hindu calendar.
Kortree - First Lady of the Joint Family who reigns over the inner domains of the home
Patishapta - A sweet dish. Pan Cakes made of Rice flour+all-purpose flour with a filling made of coconut and jaggery