Friday, August 17, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pallavi Purkayastha

How in the world did he think he could get away with it?

Pallavi's attempted rape and consequent murder has shaken me in an unprecedented way.

Ever since I can remember, I have been let down by my country's gender apathy and gender hypocrisy. This is a country where, instead of swiftly deciding in which public park the rapist should be castrated or the molester stoned, abused women instantly suffer character scrutiny. The common counsel to avoid eve-teasing is "to dress decently." Here, attire or lifestyle is justified as an "invitation to rape."(1) (2)
I live in a country where women are respected only in grandiose theory. Chauvinist escapisms abound. Let's face it: India is no country for women.

When was the last time you tolerated being groped in a bus, on the street, in the train?

When was the last time someone shove his dick in front of your face in a crowded bus and have the audacity to smile in your eyes?

When was the last time you collared your molester and made a scene?

When was it that you gave up fighting because you realised molestation in some form or the other is a daily affair?

How, you wonder, is your silence relevant to Pallavi Purkayastha?


Men in this country, whether they stare, grope, rape or kill, they are becoming used to getting away with it. For Pallavi's sake, the next time you are abused, don't take it mute. Scream. Shout: NO.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Baby love

Curl your fist around 
my fingers and babble your 
baby love, sweet love. 

Monday, August 06, 2012

Random memories

I must have been about five. Sat on a bench with this boy called AZ in the class. One day, we both eyed a pencil fallen on the floor at the same moment and bent down precisely at the same time to get it. Our heads knocked hard but I grabbed the pencil and firmly held on to it.

It was mine; I noticed the teeth marks I had made the night before. But, AZ claimed my pencil was his. I maintained that the pencil was mine and we kept on arguing and pushing and pinching one other till a teary eyed AZ pleaded in desperation, "But my mother will beat me up if I tell her I lost my pencil!!!"

Now, this argument made the most perfect sense to me. I knew it was my pencil and in a way, AZ had also admitted it was mine. My parents did not beat me for losing things. The thing is, I was a regular at the school's lost-and-found department. I reached home jubilantly waving a retrieved lunchbox to simultaneously announce the loss of new pencils or a water bottle.

That day, I got home and told my aaji that I had lost my pencil. Then I clarified that in fact I had "found" my "lost" pencil but had let AZ take it home as his mother would have beaten him and aaji wouldn't do that. My aaji had a good laugh that afternoon and still makes fun of me by reminding me about "the lost pencil" when I take irrational decisions.

This was more than two decades back. Hell! I better start claiming what is mine. Pencils et al.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Methi na dhebra / Savouries made from millet flour and fenugreek leaves

This snack was a staple at my maternal grandmother's house. I remember coming home with a box of the dough that Baa or my aunt would coax me into taking home to make dhebras for breakfast the next day.

I mainly referred to this post, but made many changes along the way to replicate the taste I remembered.

This is how I made the dhebra:

Dry ingredients

3 and 1/2 cups  millet flour (bajri no loat)
2 heaped tablespoon roasted soji (cream of wheat)
1 cup wheat flour (rotli no loat)

1 tablespoon chickpea flour (besan)

1 teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds (til)

Mix the above ingredients well in a large plate / bowl that you will use to knead the flour in.

Ingredients to be processed in a grinder:

4-5 green chillies, chopped

1-inch piece of ginger, chopped

10-15 cloves of garlic (adjust if using huge cloves)

2 tablespoons of yogurt

1 1/2 tablespoon of jaggery (Use sugar if you don't have jaggery)

1 spoon salt (adjust)

Grind the above stuff, use yogurt instead of water to adjust consistency. Spoon the jaggery carefully that may get stuck to the blades, add some yogurt if required to aid the process.

Additional ingredients

200 gm of fenugreek leaves (methi) and 50 gm coriander (kothmir), finely chopped

1 1/2 table spoon oil

Pinch of turneric, asafoetida, red chilli powder


Mix the chopped fenugreek and coriander leaves and add the oil, turmeric, asafoetida, red chilli powder, and the ground paste to the flour mixture and knead as you were to knead bread dough, dusting some wheat flour in later stages. Slowly add more yogurt if required (I used a quantity equal to the yogurt that can fit the white plastic cup shown in photo 1).

My grandmother is very particular about how we knead the dough for roti (Indian bread) and her rules are: to use only the right hand, no flour should stick beyond the wrist, and no dough should remain stuck on the bowl / plate. Thanks to her constant nagging, I now manage to knead the dough to her satisfaction, see the first photo, it's just after the dough was ready, the plate is clean and so is my hand.

Dab the kneaded dough with half a spoon of oil (take oil in you palm and use your hands to dab the dough) and then cover the dough well. Let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. You can store this dough in a platic / steel container for two-three days in the fridge. I made the dhebras for breakfast the next day.

Preparation to fry the pancakes

On one side of the stove, begin heating oil in an iron pot or a heavy-bottomed, deep pot on medium flame.

Take a piece of thick plastic / polythene bag and spread it flat on clean kitchen platform or the rolling board. Rub a little cooking oil on the plastic.

Make equal sized balls from the dough.

On the plastic piece, flatten each ball with your palm and then tap the edges gently to make a small round pancake that is not too thin.

Once the hot is piping hot, slowly release these pancakes, 3-4 at a time.

Gently press each pancake down with a ladle (preferably a ladle with holes as shown in the photo) towards the bottom of the pan so that it will fluff up.

Fry till golden brown or crispy dark-brownish/black as you prefer. My maternal grandmother always fried the dhebras quite dark and crisp.

Remove the dhebras on a plate lined with tissue paper / napkin to soak excess oil.

Serve with garma-garam chai.

Coming up next: Fried ground-chicken dumplings / Chicken masala balls

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