Cook, Eat, Repeat: “Aam Panna”

Here I am with my third and final post for this month – the ‘Aam Panna‘ (Aam- Mango in Hindi language  and Panna – a concoction of sorts).

As Google will tell you, it is drink made from raw mangoes that helps one cool down during the intense heat of the summer months in India and supposedly has heat-resistant properties. While I can’t comment with a 100% guarantee on the latter, I can certainly say that it is something that is just perfect for the hot and sultry days of the summer in my home country. And if you gave it a try, I am sure you too would love this wonderful  concoction of raw mangoes, mint, a bit of sugar, a pinch of black salt and a pinch of roasted cumin!

Living in a land that is far away from the sights and smells I grew up with has been an adjustment and even after all these years, it still is. I wonder if it is the same for others  who are away from their motherland as well. I have heard some people say, who have been here much longer, that they still feel that something is missing, something no amount of opulence and comfort can make up for. A pull that does not let go, a love so deep and poignant that it is hard to put into words.

This drink is humble and accommodating and reminds me of growing up in India. It reminds me of quiet afternoons and the fiery Gul Mohor (flame of the forest); of the exhilarating champa (plumeria) and bushes of hibiscus; of that sole peddler whose voice could be heard over the whirring of the fan blades, trying to make the last sale of the day; the occasional tired barks of stray dogs lying in the shade of the trees, coiled and too tired, from the heat, to move; of my Ma’s beautiful voice humming a tune while going about the daily chores; of that heavily fragrant smell of ‘Keo Karpin hair oil that Baba could not, and still cannot, do without; of the repetitive thud of a ‘cambis‘ ball hitting the wall as my brother tried to get the ‘spin’ perfect; of that small black and white ‘Oscar’ television that stood in the corner of the room, hidden by an embroidered TV ‘cover’; of special summer programs that we watched on that same TV with cousins who often visited when school was closed; of secret crushes and stolen innocent glances; of undiluted love from warm embraces of my Rangadadu (my mom’s uncle..my favorite grandpa among all). It’s a drink that reminds me of the matters of the heart.

 

HOW TO MAKE!

There are many ways by which you can dress up or dress down this simple drink, all of which you will find online, in plenty. Here’s how I like mine!

Serves :  Happy souls! Time : about 20 minutes (that includes 15 minutes of boiling mangoes)

Ingredients : Raw mangoes (either 2-3 fresh whole ones or about 2 cups of frozen pieces)// Water- about 2 cups for boiling and more(about 1 cup per person) for making the actual drink// Sugar- 3-4 Tbsp// Mint Leaves- a handful// Black salt- 2 tbsp// Roasted and ground cumin powder- 2 Tbsp// Ice Cubes

Method : If using fresh raw mangoes, cut the mango in small pieces and boil in water for about 15 minutes. If using the frozen ones (which are already usually cut into pieces) you may have to increase the boiling time by 5-7 more minutes. Once done, strain.

[Note: Sometimes the frozen mango is cut in slices and not chunks- in that case the boiling time will be about 7-8 mins total only. ]

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In a blender, add ice cubes, the mangoes, and the other ingredients mentioned above and puree . (Note that you will not be needing the entire batch of this purée  for a glass of aam panna. You can store the rest in the fridge for 3-4 days easily).

 

In a glass, add a couple of ice cubes  and fill about a little more than 1/4 of the glass with the mango purée . If you want a slightly fuller taste, and this is better tasting for sure, fill 1/2 of the glass with the purée. Then  fill up the glass with water. Add a couple of mint leaves and give the concoction a good stir! I sometimes also add just a pinch of the roasted cumin at the end, on the top.

 

 

[  You could grab cumin powder from your spice shelf or if you happen to have whole cumin, spend a couple of extra minutes and roast about 2-3 tbsp on a pan in low heat till their color turns darker and you get that wonderful smell. Grind it using a mortar and pestle and store in an air tight container. Using this will enhance the flavor much more].

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Aam Panna is indeed a very refreshing drink and you can easily adjust the sweetness by adding more or less sugar!  Go ahead and make one yourself one and be sure to pour out another for your loved one!

Thanks for stopping by. And I will see you next month, which is just next week, with something totally different! Till then, cook- eat- repeat!

 

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A Photo A Day: December ’19-Jan

In the frenzy of bidding 2019 goodbye and all the hoopla that is usually a part of that, I put a hold on my ‘a photo a day’. And now that all that craziness has subsided and we are again back into the usual humdrum, I wanted to share photos from December through today as part of my a photo a day project!. Many of these photos I have already shared as part of various challenges and some on my other posts, but here they are as a collage.

 

 

 

 

Moments big and small make up for this tapestry that we weave everyday. Etched across the pocketbook of our memories, some are soft, some hurt and some make us roll on the floor with laughter. They help us look back into the vignette of the time gone by and remember a particular afternoon. These were my moments. Hope you are sketching in your pocketbook of memories too.

Thanks for stopping by and I wish you all a weekend that lets you do whatever you want to!

Of untold tales

Every house has a story or two. And stories often remain untold.

Stories about…

“…empty cane chairs on the balcony of the family house that no longer sees people. The paint on the walls outside have started to chip in places while spider webs are the only artwork inside. The reading glasses of its inhabitants remain on the table, next to the open book that was just being read…or so it would seem. The sarees remain folded neatly in the almirah and the dishes in the kitchen neatly kept away. Legal complications have left this house in limbo, unloved un-lived and un-cared. This house does not care if a year ends or another begins. Time has stood still here from a couple of winters ago when, cocooned in her blanket, the old lady peacefully passed away in her sleep.”

 

“…summers that have always been awful in that part of the country. Sweat trickled down the face in rivulets and the heat almost suffocated you. The glare of the mid morning sun sliced through the bamboo shades and water from the earthen pitchers provided the only respite from the sweltering days. The courtyard in the center of the house cracked from the heat and one would have to sprint across it if the bathroom, at the other end, had to be used. But in another corner the mango, papaya, and guava trees provided a shade that would easily calm down the uneasiness and the sweet smelling bel phool (bel flower: a type of the jasmine flower that is native to tropical Asia) would make one linger around the shade for several minutes. The querulous call of the crows would occasionally break the eerie silence that prevailed on such afternoons, both inside and outside the walls. As ceiling fans whirled overhead and circulated the heady aroma of the paan (betel leaves), people enjoyed their siesta, almost oblivious of the stifling heat. From its bare bones today, it it would be hard to tell that in its prime, it nurtured life with love that was rare. It has stories that if told would surely embrace the listener in a warm and exhilarating hug.”

 

“…a small well that stood at the entrance of the two story house and one would have to maneuver with care when passing it or the chances of getting one’s shoes wet were high in the puddles that were to be found at all times of the day. The long verandah with the wooden chair at one corner had seen many a special moments like people bursting out in cheer (and some in anger) as they watched the soccer World Cup back in 1986 when Argentina won a crucial match by the ‘Hand of God’. It had been witness, not once but a couple of times, to a lone langur that would often seat himself on that chair, and hold up the newspaper that would usually be found on the table right next to it and spend sometime ‘reading’ that. Where the langur came from and where it disappears to, was another story the house could tell. It could also share one of its favorite memories which was that of the owners’ nine grandchildren posing for a photograph on the steps of the attic. That old house with the well has been taken down and a grand flat stands in its place where there is no well to be maneuvered.”

 

Another year ends in a day and with that we add, or at least hope to add, another year to our lives. We live another year to tell stories that have remained untold. We live to cherish the past more and weave memories from the present for the future. Let’s make sure we keep telling stories that matter, that make people heard and that remember those who no longer are there to share their stories.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

A Photo a Week Challenge: Babies

What a wonderful topic and one that, coincidentally, is similar to something I had been working on for my own blog! This provides me with the opportunity to combine the two and it makes me happy:)

As some of you know, our baby girl recently turned one while our son will be turning five next month. I keep thinking where did time fly and wonder if it is hurrying past me a little too fast. Days flow into nights, some being more chaotic than others. Do you know what I mean? There is never enough time to get anything done, yet somehow everything does get done. It’s a different story that the house is no longer clean and my ‘to do list’ just keeps getting longer!

I have heard people, who have more than one child, say how their  kids are different from each other, and while it made sense, I never could grasp the meaning in its entirety till I had a second one. Our son and daughter have been different from day one, if I may say, and it is a whole lot of fun watching them grow with their distinct styles! The son- never slept in his crib till about 5 months old and preferred my lap; took his own sweet time to crawl and walk; would sit at a place and be busy with his toys, keeping himself engaged for a good amount of time; never picked up anything off the floor and put in his mouth during the crawling phase or never played with the power outlets; very friendly with no fear of strangers which meant no tears at social gatherings; a gentle boy. Even as a toddler, he was a wonderfully polite who never let us feel the ‘terribleness’ of the ‘terrible two’s and three’s”. He still is a sweet little kid who is gradually exploring independence. The daughter- has been the perfect sleeper from day one, sleeping in her crib long enough to let her tired parents get a shut eye; transitioned from crawling to ‘almost’ standing without support’ quickly; has quite a few shiny pearls that make her laugh more adorable; can never be found sitting at a place for more than a few minutes and is always busy; wants to cry at the sight of any stranger; wants us to keep her company at all times, if possible; finds the tiniest possible things off the floor and puts them in her mouth; loves toying with the power outlets! An energetic kid who keeps us on our toes at all times and teaches us things we did not learn the first time around:)

They are so different and yet bond with each other perfectly, probably like all siblings do when they are younger. They seem to understand each other in a way that is unique and precious and such a wonderful thing to watch. The brother is caring and very protective of his ‘little dolly’, as he calls her often and the little one is in awe of her elder brother. In the mundane inanity of daily life, my babies spark joy and make me look forward to the next morning.

 

Thanks for stopping by! Posted for nancymerrrillphotography.

December photo a day challenge: Simplicity

   The first snowfall of every season feels special, even if one has seen many. There is something ethereal about the silence that descends when the snow falls, gently kissing the bare branches, or the leaves that are here to stay. There is innocence and simplicity in that. This morning as we had our first proper snowfall of this season, my little ones watched with joy and wonder. It was a good moment to capture.

 

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Thanks for stopping by. Posted for citysonnet.

The power of love

   Last year, when we found out we were expecting our second child, it made us ecstatic. But that ecstasy was somewhat short lived as we realized the pressures of bringing up two little ones (our older one was just about 3 years old at that point) in a land where we had little help and no grown ups (read- our parents) to guide us and hold our hands when we would falter! And then there was the fear of our little boy’s reaction, though I knew that he would be the best big brother one could hope for. And I was not wrong. Ever since he found out that his Ma’s tummy had a little special someone for him, his curiosity knew no bounds and neither did his love. Kids ask the strangest questions and at times their thoughtfulness takes you by surprise too! Our boy had the usual inquisitiveness about the new member and his actions often melted my heart. If we were out buying him clothes, he would without fail mention that we should also get something for his sister. If we were eating out, he would ask me to make sure that what I ate was not too ‘jhaal’ (hot/spicy) for the one in my tummy. And every night before going to bed  he would kiss his sister goodnight and wish her a good morning just the same way. Every single day.  Emotions at times ran high as the good man and I tried to make space for our baby girl and our voices would rise. Not a scream or any kind of verbal altercation …just raised voices of two freaked out people trying to get a lot done in a short span of time! But, if the little boy happened to be around, he would come rushing by and gently remind us to not raise our voices as there was a baby in Ma’s tummy and loud voices could hurt the tiny baby’s ears. And the day I slipped and fell down in the bathroom at 11.30 pm, four days before my due date, our little boy showed us love and gave us strength that I could not have imagined. A million things were rushing through our minds as we called the doctor and got ready to leave for the hospital while a visibly disoriented little guy was trying to take everything in his stride. My parents were with us and he put up the bravest face he could manage in the middle of so much chaos and trepidation, and waved us goodbye as we left for the hospital at around midnight. I did not have a lot of time to explain everything to him and he too did not ask for any. I watched him as we got into the car and while my heart was racing for our baby girl, it was also beaming with pride for our little guy. Baby girl was fine in the tummy and when we came back home in the morning after being kept at the hospital overnight for observation, I could see his face just light up and the first thing he asked was if his baby sister was alright.

   Our baby girl turned one a few days ago and the little guy was very ill with a viral fever. He still blew up a balloon and drew a little something for her special day. Every day has been a treat watching them together and while I know that this is so because they are both still little, it warms my heart. Our little guy has grown so much and we couldn’t be prouder. It is a matter of time before the “i don’t like you-s”, “he is mean”, “she is not letting me do that” set in and the expression of love might not be so simple then! But for the time being, I am soaking in this unadulterated love… a love so different, so unique…this love between a soon to be five year old big brother and his one year old sister. It has taught me to be kind and brave, no matter what. And it grounds me in humility and puts the faith back when hope seems to be drifting away in this crazy life.

 

A Photo A Day…15 days or so

As I recently mentioned,  I have started a ‘a day, a photo’ project of sorts in an attempt to semi chronicle events and moments of our daily life. This is my second share, from the last 15 days!

 

 

 

It has been rather fun documenting moments,  though many of us probably do it anyways, knowingly or unknowingly. I have been doing it since our son was born and I had a good-ish cell phone. Like many and unlike some, I was doing it without the intention of publishing it on Facebook ( I had an account once!) or Instagram ( though I must admit, a few have found their way here, and I still use it) and so was and/am under no pressure to add filters. I was getting a bit tired of the ‘candid’ photos posted that clearly were not candid, ones that were heavily posed for and photos which showed only the best of the best!  I did not have such picture perfect moments to share and I had started to feel a bit low, in spite of knowing that everything and everyone was/ is not that impeccable… life is not meant to be so🙂

Thanks for stopping by and I hope we capture more ‘imperfect moments’ that make our lives perfect!