Saturday, 25 August 2012

The summer of our content !

Kanda-Kairi Chutney (Raw Mango and Onion Relish)

and do visit my blogger friend and collaborator Suranga Date on her blog Strewn Ashes for an extrapolation!  

With the pre-final exams well and truly behind us, we settle down into study mode. Exams are just round the corner and like every year we have made confessions about hiding comics and novels behind text books (this year, for the first time it was Mills and Boon romances slyly scoring on the classics and hitherto favourite Enid Blyton). We acknowledge this and remorsefully vow not to do this ever, ever again (but how on earth were we going to READ!)

Summer school has started, much to my delight! Early start- it’s funny going to school when the baldiya (municipality) sweepers  are still at work, when some late straggler milk delivery fellas are rushing around their beat before the milk goes bad and when the  familiar rich timbered voice  on Vividh Bharati is announcing “Sangeet (rising tone- pause) Sarita!”  (The program showcased a raag, its aaroh and avaroh, a sample classical rendition and a Hindi film song based on the same raag). Usually, by now mother and I would be still be grappling with my long hair, me refusing to let her oil it, she sternly explaining the benefits of oiling, the firmness of her belief influencing her progressively tight braiding of my thick hair into two tight plaits, ribboned till the very end and knotted up again at the top , halving it into handle loops!  In between jabs with the comb to stop slouching (yes, that year I had started slouching because it was fashionable for girls of my age to bow to our self-conscious awkwardness about growing up) and my screaming at her pulling my hair, mother would say, “Tell me what is the difference between Rageshree and Bageshree!”

As I set out, looking around to see which of the galli kids I could walk with, I see mother buying some kairis from the bhajiwala, the veggie vendor. What is she going to make, ohhhh! I can’t wait to come home for lunch!

In just a few hours, as school gives over, the landscape has changed considerably. The sun has straddled the already baked earth.  The green-red tightly wrapped buds of gulmohor have warmed up to the sun and unfurled their petals, setting the sky on fire from beneath with their orange vermillion hues!  To this day, I landmark the day I see the season’s first gulmohor! But stomach realities bring me back to victuals! So what is mother going to make for lunch?

Kanda Kairi chutney, sadha varan, gawarichi bhaji (cluster beans or gowar) mattha (lightly spiced and herbed butter milk) and bhakri with a dollop of white butter.  A cold lunch laid out- no fancy or indulgent warming up of the food... yet...

Our study timetable is consulted and we are reminded of what we had committed on paper! But the warmth of the delicious (and heavier than the usual tiffinbox lunch on routine school days) meal has created a warmth within. Testing the waters, we blame mother for the delicious meal and guilt her into allowing one short nap. She relents.

The fan whirs on incessantly, the mogra garland perched around the long necked surahi lets out an occasional whiff of the sweet fragrance, the lassitude of the afternoon is broken only by the occasional overenthusiastic crowing of hyperactive crows, but we are too dreamy and doze away tracing rhythm patterns in the soothing  drone of the pigeon partridge...

Wasn’t this what morning school was meant for?

Life moves across hemispheres , the changing times enabling perennial  and universal availability of fruit and vegetables don’t allow the same  associative attribution to seasons, times, tastes and smells. And we enjoy kandakairi in Australia throughout the year, not just in the December to February summer season!

 Kanda Kairi Chutney

1 cup chopped raw mango (check for sourness, if required add more)

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup roasted and skinned peanuts

1 tbsp grated jaggery or brown sugar (again, depending on the sourness of the mango)

½ tsp cumin seeds

2 -3 tsp (or more) red chilli powder (I used the kashmiri variety)

Salt to taste

1 tbsp oil tadka made with ½ tsp mustard seeds (hot)

Whiz all the ingredients except the tadka in a mixer to get a grainy textured chutney. Add  a little water only if necessary.  Temper with hot tadka and serve with bhakri, chapati or rice. Good with idlys and dosas, too!



  1. लहानपणापासून तिला वाटे
    आपण नाटक सिनेमात काम कराव ......
    तिच्या जन्माच्या वेळी, आम्राईभर आलेला
    सुगंधीत मोहोर,
    तिचे डोळेभरून झालेले बालपणीचे कौतुक,
    थोड्या पिवळसर लालसर छटा दिसायच्या आत ,
    सात च्या आत घरात चा नियम .
    आणि मग एकदिवस
    बाजारात पळून जाणे,
    एका आजीबाईनी आश्रय देणे,
    आणि शाळेत जाणार्या काही मुलींनी तिच्याकडे
    अधाशीपणाने बघणे.
    एवढे सर्व तर सनेमा सारखेच ....

    पण आजकाल एका सिनेमात अनेक नटनट्या असतात .

    रणरणत्या माळरानावरच्या कडक उन्हात
    अचानक अवतीर्ण झालेले कांदा सिंग ,
    त्यांचे नाच्या पाठीराखे
    तापलेले, घासून पुसून स्वच्छ भुईमुगराव दाणे,
    घाबरत मागे आलेल्या जीराबाई ,
    आणि कैरी च्या पाठीमागे भक्कम पणे उभ राहून
    "भिउ नकोस, तुला सावरायला मी आहे न .."
    असं म्हणून सगळ्यात पडणारे मोठे गूळभौजी....

    शेवटचा सीन ,
    सगळे एकत्र फिरतात,
    एकमेकात इतके गुंततात ,
    स्वतहाला विसरतात.
    गुंडांनी गरम तेलात मोहर्या उडवल्या , त्याच्यावर टाकल्या
    तरी फक्त एक मंद चर्रर्र ......

    आणि मग
    भाकरीबुआ पापुद्रे येतात,
    गवारीबाई, हिरव्या शालूत ओव्याचे अत्तर शिंपडून
    हझर होतात,
    दही आणि भात एकत्रच यीऊन पोचतात ,
    पोक्त वरण राव
    मन घट्ट करून बसलेल्या लोण्याकडे बघून
    म्हणतात ,
    "काय हो, लोक म्हणतात
    कांदा सिंग आणि कैरीबाई
    यांच्यात काहीतरी चालू आहे....
    खरं कि काय ?...."


  2. Now in an English version too....

  3. Ah Shruti! What a wonderful picture you paint with your palette of tastes, smells and little touches of an era gone by.....when daughters had long hair and mothers had time to oil, plait and " educate" their girls - real "quality" time. I miss those halcyon days.
    And I can almost taste the chutney!:-)
    Anju Chandna

    1. :) Anju- yes, those were days were 'halcyon'!

      So glad you liked the piece and the chutney- do read what a fellow blogger has written in

      I am sure you will enjoy her poems too! :)

  4. Down memory lane!Right from Sangeet Sarita to the tight plaits to the kanda chutney. And isn't it strange and heartwarming too that so many of us - born and bred in far away places- have similar memories! Says a lot for our mothers..I grew up believing chhole was a Konkani dish!

    1. Hahaha! Jaya, our mothers surely did everything right!

  5. nice post Shruti chutney is lip-smacking

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog, Santosh! Do try this chutney and let me know how you like it!

  6. Loved the hark back to those good old days even more than the chutney recipe. How true that we marked the changing seasons with the vegetables and fruits we bought or plucked from the garden! And how they tasted divine for being seasonal. Perennial vegetables are but cold stored ones, right? I have to try this all-raw chutney :)

    1. Yes, Zephyr. Now that you mention it, I realise that willy nilly the post extends the 'in season' and 'coming of age' motif to not just vegetables and fruit...

      Thank you :)

  7. This is really looking very tasty. No wonder there are so many comments.I can't wait to get it prepared.May be today evening.


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