No Fizz in the Cola wars
Khau Swe and the Duchess

Of Gandh Raj and other living treasures



"Jyotsna Ben,

Just the other day a friend brought for me some special nimboos that I had introduced him to. You may know these; they are called 'Dahanu' Nimboos, as they are also grown there. They are unique as they have this lovely subtle flavour which renders everything very special with just one squeeze ! .... Sadly, I am not so lucky to find them often in the bhaji markets. But some rare vendors, who cater to Parsi clientele , keep them. They are largish ( compared to our normal limbu) and deep green in colour. When cut, they are a deep yellow inside and the juice, for it's flavour, as I said, is very very special!
Better still are their cousins in Calcutta, used commonly by the Bengalis. These they call the "Gandh Raj" ( a typical Bong will pronounce it "Gondho Raaj" ). They are aromatically more endowed and are something to die for ! So next time when R is visiting Cal, ask him to fetch you some and you'll know what you were missing! These Gandh Raj come closest to the Thai Nimboos you know as the Kaffir Lime.They are the ultimate in citrus gifts to mankind. They are really out of this world. Their flavour is truly heavenly and even the Kaffir Lime leaves are equally aromatic. The Tom Yum soup and so many of their wonderful curries can never be the same without them. Well then there are other Nimboos in the world including the Sicilian Lime and others...Apropos the different Rasas as they are described in the Indian Natya Shastra:the ras from these Nimboos are worthy of the same exalted place in the Paak Shastras ! Next time some sharing on the great Topli Paneer. Do you know it? Cheers to all that! Mahen"

Not a lot of people know that one of the best photograpers in India today is a gourmet cook . I am always grateful to Mahendra Sinh for sharing his deep knowlege and understanding of Indian cuisine and his pleasure in the food and wine of the world. He makes the simplest dish fantastic because his sensibilities are so attuned to the slightest note that each spice adds and he does not like noise.
Mahen, as any acquaintance of his will tell you, does not suffer fools gladly and in ringing tones will denounce misinformation, generalisations, and all half baked ideas based on inadequate facts. I am inclined to add my two paise bit to his castigation of the pompous and the pedestrian especially when they masquerade as art. And anybody in India, who follows the history and happenings of our arts today, knows how many "creations' are cliche, copied or kitsch.
His own work is wrested out of years of experience, of study and of observation. His own deep respect for the greats of photography from whom he has learnt is like a touching genuflection in their direction of all that is fine in creative arts. His work takes its place firmly in the evolution of photography in India and the world and in my opinion he stands head and shoulders above the rest .
Now about the "Gondho Raaj". It was a revelation. Gentle, not bitter, with a subtlety of taste not normally associated with lime. A teaspoon of the juice in a dal raises it to yummydom, a grating of the rind on baked fish makes it utterly delicious.
Thanks again Mahen.