Amtis and Uncles
Stuffed Bitter Gourd- Karela Sabzi a la Asha

Zhunka Bhakar and the House of Your Dreams


My car has a mind of its own. It takes turns whenever it pleases. Suddenly I find myself somewhere...and its not over the rainbow. Its in some strange place. I slow down and readjust the wheels of my mind...they are in a different gear obviously and my clutch is screeching blue murder. I dont blame myself. I dont blame the car. Look, everyday the landscape changes. We have a glass mall with a food court reaching up into the sky where  a jhopad patti (slum) used to be.We have a Barista where  a Cafe Good Luck greeted you, at the corner, with a bun maska and a masala chai. We have a McDonalds in the hinterland of Hinjewadi- bang on the spot , as I recall, where a buffalo shed hung lazily out, its inmates chewing the cud contentedly.
Then we have buildings in all shapes, sizes and colours sprouting up everywhere. On every bit of land, garbage pit, gutter, and soon on every bit of river I'm sure.
Apartment blocks, residential societies, bungalows,villas .
Are the names given to these eruptions indicative of the aspirations of our people or their builders?

Corinthian, Palladium,Coliseum, and other nouns descriptive of a style so quintessentially Maharashtrian wouldn't you say? Or have our builders travelled to Vicenza or Corinth and picked up on the lifestyle of the rich and famous many centuries ago.
Then we have Wellington Mews, Marble Arch,Victoria Garden, Castlemaine,Windsor Avenue, Kensington Court,.....  just short of having amche swathache Buckingham Palace up for sale.
Other wonderfully titled flats are Daffodil Avenue,Tulips, Iris, Magnolia, all, oddly enough, flowers that do not grow in India, let alone Pune.

Grandiose appellations reign: Spacia, Gracia, Eternia,Sophronia, Sicilia,Palacia.
Luminous gems glitter on the horizon; Emerald City, Sun City, Diamond Park, Pearl Towers, City Crown.

Now we are Going Green in a city shorn of its trees. We have Springfield Park ,The Woods, The Meadows, Oakwood Hills, Laburnam Lane, Yellow Blossoms, Ozone Villas, Orchard, Hill Mist and Timberland, to make up for  lack of the real thing.

Last but not least, my favourite of all time, Posh Ville. Kind of says it all. Keeping up with the Jones's or should I say Joshi's, is the developers idea of a major selling point in towns today.

No doubt builders imagine that residents of these elevated homes with marbonite floors, Italian kitchens, and French furniture eat off gold plate and feast on stuffed quail. Closer to reality, however, the average Joeshi  would be happy with a plateful of Zhunka Bhakar to be found, thankfully, in little stalls all over the state. Delicious stuff and so easy to make.



400 gm carrots, peeled and chopped medium fine
4 tsp oil.
1/2 tsp hing (asafatoeda)
1/2 tsp rai (mustard seed)
1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tbsp gur (jaggery)
Salt to taste.
4 tbsp besan (gram flour)
1 tbsp chopped hara dhania (green coriander)

(For variety add drumstick pieces, or a cupful of methi (fenugreek) chopped fine or even methi (fenugreek) seeds)

Heat oil in kadhai. Add mustard seed and let them pop. Add hing now. Add carrots and lower heat.
Add haldi and chilli powder. If carrots are sweet, no gur is needed, otherwise add 1/2 tbsp gur .
Stir a couple of times then add salt. Cover till carrots are cooked...on low heat. Do not add any water. Carrots should have a bit of bite and must not  be mushy when done.
Now take 4 tbsp besan, or a little more, sprinkle on to carrots as you stir gently, till carrots are coated with besan. Cover immediately and cook for 5 minutes or until besan 'smells' cooked. Stir once or twice gently. Remove and add dhania.

You could add a mixture of large chunks of tomato, onion and green chilli instead of carrots, for a change.

Link to Bhakri/ Jowar Roti.