As if there are not enough reminders of how long it has been since my last meal in Mysore home, ma’s puLiyogre gojju/puLikaachal is now teetering between dangerously low and tearful levels. I am very good at making things last until my next trip back home usually but who am I kidding? The pandemic has thrown any semblance of such pride in the air. And am not over reacting. I can learn to make this myself and try to recreate ma’s presence like I do with a lot of my cooking but I refuse to. Not this time. Those dabbas of poDi and uppinkai and thokku and gojjus that I carry from home after my father carefully double and triple packs them and meticulously weighs them so I never have to suffer at the airport are my way of having ma in the kitchen, in those jars with their lids tightly shut only to be embraced every now and then, preciously, deliberately and very very conscientiously. There is a lot of love that goes into them, there is a lot of excitement in making them and a lot of satisfaction in them being being used to make a meal. Objectively speaking, making a great gojju or pickle is not something only mothers can do and yet to me, they are unparalleled. Colour me sentimental and overcome by an extreme longing for home, but what is my food without it?
Category: Life in Surrey
Brown butter banana bread
Happy Banana Bread Day!
Brown butter banana bread – has quite the zing to it, does it not?
I totally think banana bread deserves a day to be celebrated – in a pandemic, it brought together a nation and people from different corners and there was a camaraderie as people baked and shared and liked each others’ banana bread on the gram and perhaps elsewhere. There are very very few people I know who dislike or don’t care much for it but there is otherwise an ubiquitous love for this extremely endearing bread that doubles as cake and is inviting as a breakfast (when toasted) or as a dessert (perhaps with ice cream?). It is also the most hospitable bread – welcoming chocolate chips with as much gusto as walnuts and dates and well, your pantry is your limit, really! This time, I went for a decadent brown butter banana bread. Having baked a batch of brown butter cookies, I had this sudden brainwave to make banana bread with browned butter and sour cream. If you are looking to make this, here is what you need:
All purpose flour – 170 gm
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Sour cream – 150 ml
Browned butter – 100 gm
Caster sugar – 60 gm
Ripe medium bananas – 4 (reduce a banana if you add 2 eggs)
Honey – 30 gm (replace with maple syrup if you want to skip/ don’t have honey)
Maple syrup – 30 gm (replace with honey if you don’t have maple syrup)
A word on sweetness – adjust this to taste. We like it just sweet and nothing too cloying. Also, the bananas were quite sweet themselves, so play with sweetness according to your preference.
1. Mix 170gm flour, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt in one bowl.
2. In another bowl, mix 150 ml sour cream, 100 gm browned butter, 60 gm of caster sugar, 4 mashed ripe medium bananas (reduce by 1 if you add 2 eggs), 30 gm honey, 30 ml maple syrup. Taste the sweetness as you add the sweeteners (t must be pretty sweet at this point as you will add this to the flour).
3. Now fold the dry flour mix into this without over mixing it. Bake until the insides are cooked and a toothpick comes out clean.
4.Let it cool while walk around frantically waiting to dig in and then waste absolutely no time !
Do not worry if it appears a bit dense the next day, just toast it or warm it for 20 seconds in the microwave and it will be delish. Add anything you fancy but just bear in mind the sweetness and it is simple because in the eggless version, you can taste the batter as you go. I would love to try it with jaggery and coconut and make it a rasayana-bread.
You know how they bake cookies during house shows to make it smell warm and inviting? I would totally bake a banana bread 🙂
Fall-ing in love
I have gushed about it a fair bit on the gram now. I cannot be happier about living in fall in pretty pretty Surrey. It is an era by itself, you see. Those luscious green trees from summer..
..morphing into several pops of colours,
to adorn homes,
and lay out a carpet of the most magical wonders,
for you and me to stop and look closer and unravel one of them,
and feel celebratory,
for here you can find, on your most casual walks, all those magical things you read about in your childhood, come alive from books.
You don’t have to do much to enjoy all of this. You only need to step out..
..and it is all there, waiting for you. Right at your doorstep.
You’d think it cannot get better than that but mostly it does once you turn on your oven or stove and bring out your tubers and roots.
“What is it you love about fall?” they asked.
“Let’s go for a walk and I will show you,” I smiled.
Of welcoming and bidding adieu to our first winter in UK
me us most about moving to UK was winter. We love Europe and had always read and heard of the gorgeous English countryside but our hearts screamed for winter and just the thought of experiencing seasons. Singapore’s tropical weather and rainy-humid climate all through the year meant that we escaped to cold climates during winters. Such was our need for the cold. Naturally, we felt ecstatic. Also, while I love myself flowers and fall (oh, I love fall!), winter really is my aesthetic. I cannot get enough of feeling cold, being wrapped up in layers that leave me feeling perpetually in a state of “hug”, spending a good portion of the day brewing coffee and tea, forever having my kaDai out for that last minute bhajji/bajia, huddling in the warmest corner with a book, stepping out only to be met with a fiercely cold wind hitting and numbing the face leaving you feeling noseless.. I could go on.
So when people told us very politely about how we will now be facing “London weather”, we did not flinch a bit. We are somewhere amidst the last traces of winter now and I already miss it. None of the weather was remotely as “dreadful” as people made it out to be. On the contrary, the winter has been soothing and except for the short daylight, we loved every bit of it. I missed a good chunk of it as I was away in New Zealand for a good time enjoying spring and its blossoms but I was back for Christmas to hop on the winter bandwagon.
As I write this, it is getting to spring now. The super markets are full of petunias, tulips and a diaspora of blooms. The wild flowers in our yard have started to bloom from nowhere! I was not even aware that there were plants with such gorgeous flowers and to watch them appear miraculously on one fine morning, out of nowhere obvious, has been beautifully surprising. The root vegetables are replaced by berries and lots of fresh greens. Those big boots and huge cloaks are replaced by thin cardigans and denims and sandals. The entrances to the super markets are lined with the essentials for barbecue.
And all this has been utterly beautiful to witness. I really miss the winter but I love myself a spring and the joy it brings to so many people. There is nothing quite like watching people being happy for the weather. I cannot believe I am saying this, because a year ago, I used to wonder what it is that makes people talk of weather all the time. But I know and appreciate it better now. To be observant and perceptive of the changes around you is indeed appreciable. And in a way, that has made me very thankful for the weather and for all the privilege I have to experience the seasons comfortably.
A few days ago, we walked along the Ockham and Wisley Commons with gay abandon. After more than a week of warm sun, that day was quite chilly. We being us, headed out to enjoy that chill. We got our large coffees from the local bakery at the entrance and walked endlessly. Some days make you happy for no reason at all and this is definitely one of them.