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February 2009

January 2009

Mixed Vegetable Salad- Mixed Vegetable Koshimbir

Mixed-salad-veg-koshimbir My Maharashtrian thali had been looking a bit bare of late, in spite of promises to cover as many traditional dishes as possible. With my explorations in several other directions I have neglected it- so here goes with a rainbow hued salad.


½  cup cucumber, grate medium

½  cup carrot, grate fine

½ cup beetroot, grated  large

½  cup cabbage, cut fine into longish strips.

1-2  tsp chilli flakes

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

¼ cup plain yogurt /dahi

1 tbsp chopped coriander

1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

Mix all vegetables then add the salt, pepper, yogurt, chilli flakes and coriander and mix well. Garnish with the sesame seeds.

This is a very colourful salad and really healthy too.

Guava Koshimbir- Guava Salad

Guava-seller I’ve always wondered why Guavas are known as peru (pronounced payroo)in Marathi. Now I realise it is probably because these fruit originated in tropical South America , probably Peru! They are full of carotenoids  and flavenoids. Surprisingly they contains more vitamin C than citrus fruits.

Guavas are perhaps the cheapest fruit on the market as well, since we have been flooded with apples from Australia and pears from China, all at an unbelievably high price. Since guavas are plentiful this season, it’s time to make use of them for all kinds of things- jellies, jams, juices, ice cream and salads. Especially good are the pink fleshed guavas.

Here’s another easy recipe for a koshimbir which is a miniscule salad on the side, a sort of amuse bouche.


2 guavas, medium

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

2 tbsp yogurt, taken from the top creamy layer.


Grate the outer part of the guava, discarding the inner centre with seeds. Sprinkle the salt and sugar over it and gently fold in the beaten yogurt.


Hurda, Hurdo, Jowar, Sorghum- A tender classic

Ancient monuments are like classics. Each time you return to them they give you something more . More to notice, understand, question and think about. What meant little when young becomes meaningful with age. Old mysteries are solved and new ones present themselves.

This was the case on a recent visit to Ajanta and Ellora. Even though we have been to see these magnificent sites several times before, usually to accompany friends from overseas, I was completely astounded by them again. What richness of detail, what colour, what form , what balance!

There was gratifying evidence of an increased care in their upkeep and maintenance. Ongoing  efforts to record and document the murals in their present condition and to revive some of their former glory albeit with help from the Japanese government.

While hordes of children too young  to know what they were looking at, swept like locusts through the caves, touching the frescoes where they were in reach, custodians yelled and bellowed to restrain them from wiping their grubby hands on the precious paintings. Their voices reverberated through the dark halls but they could not drown out the hum of devotion or visions of dedication  that these glorious temples evoked.

We had driven there through a pleasing countryside, some areas of black cotton soil were covered with cotton and sunflower fields. Others more parched, grew sturdy crops like jowar (sorghum). On our return we were treated to another classic. Jowar-fields

Hurda ‘parties’ were taking place at every possible jowar farm which bordered the highway. We stopped at one which was really well organised. Welcomed by the farmer and his family, rugs had been spread out in the shade of the subabool trees, each seating area cordoned off from another by hedges. Our orders were taken in weight. One kilo or two kilos of tender green jowar. Cut fresh from the field the stalks were heavy with the ripening grain.


Small heaps of cow dung had already been placed in shallow 2 ft wide circular holes in the ground. As we sat there the cow dung was lit.


The fire became strong and the jowar sheafs were placed under the burning dung where they began popping and crackling like corn.


A few seconds and they were whipped out, threshed on a gunny sack to take off the grain and


-then sieved to remove any remaining dust, leaves or extraneous matter.


Served with a dried chilli and peanut chutney and a small bowl of buttermilk the Hurda was utterly luscious. Nutty, milky, sweet and redolent of the warm fields around us it was a perfect reminder of all that is timeless in this country.