Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shelar Mama, Nasik style Khichadi and much more

It was yet another hopeless Wednesday morning and I was all alone at home killing time. All of a sudden my phone rang. Mornings usually i don't get calls from Ranjit, friends and well wishers. So,the phone ring i thought was from marketing executive who would promise to manage my portfolio, insurance sellers and other irritating scheme tellers. I was in no mood of an altercation so was trying to avoid answering it. But surprisingly the call was from my childhood chum Vijay Shelar whose alias list includes Pappya, Shelar mama, Vijya to name a mentionable few. He was at a walking distance from my house so obviously i suggested him to walk by. I had just woken up (10 something) and had finished my daily dose of newspaper and a cup of ginger tea (95% water and 5% milk as a taster) to kick start my day.

We were meeting after quite some time so the intensity, motivation and the energy levels were pretty high. After the high fives i settled for another round of tea (his first of-course), this time the milk proportion increasing manifold. We talked about work, recession, mobile phones and also managed to get nostalgic remembering the lovely good old school days. Vijay was also a average performer like most of us in the group. No wonder we gelled so well then. The only enviable fact about Vijay  was he was member of the NCC group (Army) and I was thrown in to the less favorable scout group (all thanks to my height) which was a default group for all the rejected NCC folks. So when these guys would march in unison, we would be busy plucking grass, cleaning grounds,collecting donations which were the activities for the scout guys. Our uniform was strange too. He had white shits, matching pants, a rope and a unforgettable orange scarf tied round our necks.

The banter had reached exciting levels when i realised that my stomach had started complaining for lack of solid food. I avoid packaged food so that meant, I had nothing ready made. It was already noon then so there was no point in breaking fast by a breakfast. So I thought of cooking something for lunch. I pressurised Vijya to stay over and he did succumb to it. The question obvioulsy was the menu. I am not found of cooking but soon realised that Vijya was a fine cook and had heard some stories about his cooking style and so forth. So we finally decide to settle over Khichadi. He asked which one I like. Moong or Tur.I had no clue of the distinction between the two (all dals looked the same to me), so i pulled out a dabba and found the dal which Vijay identifying it as tur.

I also managed to find the cooker,the stirrer spoon, salt, rice, meerchi, onions, potatoes and yes all the spices too. The only ingredient which he thought was missing were groundnuts. I searched all over the kitchen but finally gave up. Vijay was certainly disappointed but we decided to move on. I cut one onion, two chillies, coriander and handed them to Pappya. He had already poured a couple of tea spoons of oil and the spices (mustard and jeera) were busy crackling in the hot oil. Next he put the neatly cut onions and potatoes and fried till it tured orang-ish. He then mixed 1 1/2 cups of rice with almost half cup of  tur dal and washed it carefully. When he was satisfied with the the torture of  onions and potatoes, he put the mixture (dal and rice) and kept stirring for a minute or so after adding haldi, mirchi and other masala in a medium ignited stove. He then poured about a liter of water, added salt and left it to boil. After another couple of minutes he closed the lid of the cooker and it seemed the rituals were over now.In the mean while I removed my glasses and started searching for the groundnuts just to make up the disappointment. But it was not to be.

So 10 minutes later the pressure cooker released all the pressure it had accumulated and buzzed with a lot of confidence. He let it buzz for a couple more time and left it to cool down. I readied the eating apparatus by the time and also found ghee as a topper and pickle to spice things further up. Finally he decide to open the lid prematurely (possibly looking at my hungry face) and there it was. The food was ready to munch. I decided to serve it as a good will gesture. It tasted wonderful and suddenly took me in to Nasik mode. We did not chat while we eat. I guess it was more to do with the taste rather than the lack of topics. Of-couse I burped at the end of my lunch and thanked him vociferously was such a wonderful meal. He too obliged and we decided to wind up things as we suddenly realized that we had to go to office. It was indeed a memorable meal with Pappya.............

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