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May 2006

Shivaji Market

 

154638729_23eb56ec99 Entrance to Shivaji Market, Pune

Shivaji Market is a heritage building. This became known to the average citizen when some enthusiastic corporators in Pune wanted to tear it down, to build a modern market, in order to house more vendors.
It is situated in a very crowded area with narrow streets that do not allow for any parking. Part of its charm is the surprise, coming across a large building with high ceilings in a place you'd least expect.

Rear Entrance to Shivaji Market

There is nothing beautiful about it. With solid grey granite rocks heaped together in a Victorian Gothic 'Pune jail' style typical of public buildings in Maharashtra dating from the 19th century, its great saving is its stability.It looks like it will last forever.
A 5 by 5 foot space in the market would be worth a small fortune today.The allotment is passed down from generation to generation.The boy who sells dried fish on the outer square of the market says the small sales area he has was his "baba's' (grandfather's) a hundred years ago.
The vendors sit cross legged, high above the eye-level viewpoint of most of the shoppers. And their attitude is similiarly elevated; they are very uppity with people who find the vegetables overpriced. They dismiss all attempts to bargain by looking down their noses, literally and figuratively. One particularly intimidating woman of substantial girth sells the "foreign" vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, baby corn, pak choi, red and yellow peppers, zucchini and brussel sprouts. She also has a mobile made of bags of fresh basil, thyme and rosemary. Dripping gold and surrounded by her treasury of vegetables, she is royalty here.

Dattatray

Become a regular buyer, and many of them are friendly, in fact positively expansive, throwing in a potato or two above the balance of their scales.
Yet the problem is, as with all allotments here, that there are far more candidates for spaces than there is space.

Lemon vendor

Now the market itself is surrounded by more vendors outside than those inside, doing a brisk business in fruit and vegetables, catching buyers before they enter the building.
Altogether one gets a fair choice in vegetables, fish, fruit, chicken, mutton and beef.

Vegetable Stall

The central and largest area of the building is for vegetables,the outer ring for poultry and dried goods, with separate buildings for fresh fish, lamb and beef. There is a little shop for Irani and Parsi specialities, another for dairy and Jain foods,a third for rice, lentils and wheat, and finally at the exit a gaggle of bangle wallas. At one time and still today, a womans shopping wasn't complete without an wrist covered with bright and glistening glass bangles.

Built in 1885

When it was built in 1885, by Lt.Gen John Ross to a design by Gen Cecil D'Urban LaTouche and W.M Ducat it cost Rs 1,23,800.
Over the years, many of the vendors have become familiar faces; that, and the daily chit-chat, are some of the perks of living in a small town.(Yes,with a population of 3 million and still growing, Amche Pune is still a provincial, small town at heart)
As I was taking photographs, I asked the fruiterer at the entrance to smile. He said "yes" brightly but continued with his work seriously. "Smai-ile", I sung out, anticipating a warmer response. "Ye-es!" he returned, and kept stacking the apples with a dour mein. Again I said, "smile", encouraging him with one of my own, thinking he might not understand what I was saying. He turned to me, and, with a barely concealed chortle, affirmed: "Yes! I Ismail. "
We both burst out laughing together.

Another nice post about Shivaji Market by a fellow Puneite


Veni, Vedi, (Tik)vitchki -Yogurt and Zucchini Raita

 

Tikvitchki-Bulgarian Zucchini Raita

There are few things in the world that can connect nations as far apart as India and Bulgaria the way cuisine does. Having visited Sofia last winter, my daughter returned home with a great deal of memorable experiences, and some of the best of them involved food.
With a tumultuous history of invasions, Bulgaria was at one point a Turkish conquest, and this, in my opinion, could be a reason for its intensely kebab- and dairy-laden cuisine. Yogurt figures significantly in the dairy aspect, and the Bulgarians attribute their famed longevity to the Lactobacillus bulgaricus culture in it. Perhaps because of the common stage of Middle Eastern invasion in both Bulgarian and Indian history, the food of both countries seem to complement each other very well; a great example of this is the Bulgarian dish tikvitchki, literally zucchini, which would serve as a wonderful dish alongside mutton curry. My daughter smuggled this recipe back from her hosts in Sofia just in time for our hot Indian summer, where it makes for cooling, yet far from bland fare.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/4 cups dahi / greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup shepu (dill), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps chopped garlic

300 gms zucchini, cut into round slices
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup vegetable or olive oil
3/4 cup flour
Pinch of salt
Pepper to season

In a large mixing bowl combine the yogurt and the water to a smooth yet firm consistency. Add the dill and the garlic and mix well.Chill.
Sprinkle the lemon juice over the zucchini and set aside for 5 minutes.Meanwhile heat 1/3 of the oil in a nonstick frying pan. (Check heat level by popping a mustard seed).
Mix flour with the salt. Lightly coat a handful of the zucchini slices with the flour on both sides. Fry for a few minutes on each side till light brown.They should not be soggy but retain some bite.Remove with slotted spoon.Repeat till all slices are done.
Let fried slices cool.
In a serving dish alternate layers of the yogurt mixture with layers of fried zucchini.Garnish with a sprig of dill and freshly ground pepper.
Serve chilled.


How to make Khoya

 

Boiling down milk

Milk based sweets are the most popular kind of dessert in Indian cuisine, several of which require the use of khowa/khoya. Here is how to make it.

Ingredients:

  • 5 litres full cream buffalo milk

Take a thick bottomed pan or a kadhai , the bottom half of a pressure cooker or something like a Le Creuset casserole. Pour in the milk and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low and continue to cook, stirring every 5 minutes to mix any solids accumulated at the bottom of the pan.Do not let the solids burn. Keep cooking and stirring till the milk gets a really thick consistency.This will take a couple of hours.

Ready Khoya

Patience is the key to khoya.(If it was possible I'd say set up some kind of mixing machine going like an icecream maker. This is an idea for some inventor.Any takers?*) Let the khoya cool. Keep refrigerated and use within 2 days.

(5 litres of milk makes approximately 1 kilo of khoya)

*Ooops.There is already a manufacturer of a khoya making mixer out there....