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May 2005

April 2005

Cuppa Cantaloupe



You might have gathered that pavements are in heavy demand here. Pedestrians generally take to the road along with the two, three and four wheelers and weave their way in and around all sorts of life threatening potholes, excavations, manholes and other hazards of a nation on the move.

It makes daily life a challenge. When your heart leaps up, at least ten times a day, as you behold a lorry coming straight at you, or feel the slip stream of a motorcyclist with pretentions to being Evel Knievel, you cannot ever take life for granted and remain in a perpetual state of gratitude for every breath you take.


Melons , among several other things contend for that space on the pavement and what colourful contenders they are. The large red melon is known as Kharbooza here and the small cantaloupe as kalingad . Musk melon , Cucumis melo, is part of the cucumber family the Cucurbitaceae family of herbaceous vines which originated in India and is one of the oldest plants in the history of the world.

Also known as honeydew it is one of the sweetest and most reasonably priced fruit available this season. It is typically grown in kitchen gardens in villages in India as well as on a larger scale, making fields of pretty blossoms. It is a very healthy food with high amounts of Vitamin A , C and potassium and is also full of anti oxidants.

I make an interesting dessert with cantaloupe by cutting it into cubes and then mixing the cubes into equal parts of cream and ice cream sprinkling the whole with a spoonful of caster sugar. What follows is another nice dessert which is as simple to make:


One 6"-7" medium sized melon
Juice of 2 lemons
400 gms cream
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 cup ginger syrup

Ginger syrup: 3 tsps grated or ground fresh ginger steeped in 1/4 cup water and strained. 3 tablespoons sugar. Heat the ginger water with the sugar till it melts. Take off the fire and leave to cool.

Cut the top of the melon and take out the seeds with a spoon. Scoop out the pulp leaving the case intact. Make a serrated edge to the top of the melon and refrigerate.

Blend the melon pulp, sugar, lemon juice, ginger syrup and 200 gms of the cream in a mixer. Pour into a bowl . Cover and freeze. When thickened but not set blend in the rest of the cream with a fork till smooth. Refreeze. When set scoop out the ice cream into the melon case and serve immediately.

April Mangoes



April is a season of heat and mellow fruitfulness in Maharashtra. All manner of melons are to be seen stacked up in rows wherever there is a bit of space available on the pavements. Pedestrians gladly make way for mangoes which are the great delight of this hot weather. Already alphonsoes and dasseries are available but these mangoes are artificially ripened and are a bit tasteless right now.

The best are those that ripen on the branch and become sweet with the sun.We might have to wait a bit for them to reach the markets.Mangoes_on_redigadi

I couldn't resist buying a few mangoes though and made an Indo-Anglian dish which an old Parsi friend introduced me to.Like all Parsi concoctions it is a mix of a British favourite with an Indian bite and heat to it. And eggs.Do you know of any Parsi dish without eggs!?


Masala Mango Scrambled Eggs .

4-6 Eggs, beat well.
2 mangoes, diced.
2 onions chopped.
2 tomatoes,chopped .
2-6 green chillies chopped fine.
2 handfuls of fresh coriander
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp salt.
1-2 tsp oil

Heat the oil in a pan and fry onions till soft, wilted and light brown about 15 minutes. They should retain a bit if a bite though.Add chillies and fry some more. Throw in the tomatoes and when completely soft add the chilli powder, salt and coriander. Stir well, cook for two minutes and finally add the mango pieces. Stir for 4 minutes more then add the beaten eggs and cook slowly like scrambled eggs till done.
This makes a extra special breakfast and a good lunch with some broons ( crusty bread).


Finger lickin' good?


Kfc_comes_to_pune Hai hai hai! What do I see on the crossroads of Dhole Patil Road and Bund Garden Road.? You've already guessed it. A huge billboard for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It has not been greeted in Pune with the fanfare KFC received in Bangalore some years ago, as a result of which that wing had to shut down. No, no crowing of any kind here.

Nevertheless my heart quails when I see that familiar red board.

It brings to mind a particularly greasy meal in a bucket I had years ago in the U.S. The strange thing is these kinds of fast foods have a flavour that can never be erased from the taste buds of memory. It engenders almost total recall of a synthetic aftertaste even among particularly forgetful people. Like a food you once pigged out on and forever after carried the essence of it, in the back of your throat, to be brought up immediately, both literally and figuratively, when confronted with the sight or smell of that fare.

I cannot help feeling some antipathy towards a couple of well known cola drinks, the ubiquitous Mac and some fast food global brands .It isn't the notion of the all powerful MNC and the colonization of food. In fact the more choice there is for the consumer the merrier. Perhaps it is a slight fear that they might make themselves more easily available than the next player, our local Udupi joint or vada pavwala, and thus grow by default.

Children , the main target of the fast food business, might benefit by being exposed to as many flavours as possible when young, so they have a chance to the same way as they are exposed to music and sound, to pictures and paintings and film, to dance and sports and movement , to reading and ideas. A knowledge based on an exposure to variety could enhance their life and allow them to make real choices ,depending on their own educated taste. If they are dumbed down with the ever familiar from babyhood, those premixed cereals, that bottled food, ready prepared meals and T.V dinners, even the same fast food., how will they grow to be discerning?. I am not saying here that a dosa dripping in ghee is necessarily better than deep fried chicken. Just that, if this is their homogenous daily fare, they may never choose a new or healthier food, because their taste buds do not know any better.

Subtlety and complexity of taste is not what you desire when young. But it may be what you need for your survival both mentally and physically when you are older.

Actually, come to think of it, in the long run I am not particularly concerned about Pune being colonized by the Colonel. Dominos came to Pune and Dominos went. Ditto Baskin Robbins. The Puneite's natural leaning towards value for money, if not good taste, is his/her own defense!

JVP against KFC? It's a win win situation for JVP.

And I will vouch, with great relish, for the better taste.

* JVP: Joshi Vada Pav - about which more later.


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