Friday, April 22, 2011

Kathal ki Sabzi: a Veggie's delight !

Last week we were at my sis-in-law's place. They have an independent house and an enviable garden wherein they grow a huge variety of plants and trees. Of all trees, what awed me most was the sight of the jack-fruit tree laden with the fruit.And of course, I brought one home!

During my childhood spent in Orissa, almost every second home had a jack-fruit tree. What's different about the jack-fruit tree is that unlike other fruit-bearing trees, many of the fruit grow on the trunk/branches near to the ground. Some of the fruit can grow up to two feet in length. Exchange of home-grown vegetables/fruits was very common in our childhood days and jack-fruit featured quite commonly in that exchange. Sometimes we received the fruit. None of my family could stand the smell of the ripened fruit and we used to offer it to people who loved them. But when the raw one was at home, I used to pester my mother to make the sabzi, the Bihari style. There is one recipe for the Andhra style too wherein the jack-fruit is chopped very fine and cooked with mustard powder.But my favorite is this one.

From my childhood, my friends kept teasing me saying that I don't know what I miss as I never tasted non- vegetarian food. Inside my heart I used to wonder what it really tastes like but never had the desire to do so.
For vegetarians, let me tell you that kathal ki sabzi, the recipe that I share with you now looks exactly like mutton when cooked and when my friends tasted it, they remarked that it even tasted like mutton ki sabzi!
So here goes...
Call it Kathal in Hindi, Jack-fruit in English, Panasa in Oriya and Panasakayi in Telugu. I choose to call this recipe as kathal ki sabzi as it is the Bihari style of cooking the curry.

To prepare kathal
1. Skin the kathal first. For this, you need to oil your hands and the knife as well. The fruit exudes a milky gum-like substance which doesn't leave your hands easily. I wore the kitchen gloves as an extra precaution and applied oil to the gloves itself. Keep a small bowl of oil at your side and keep dipping you fingers in to it from time to time as you cut the kathal.

                                                                   The uncooked pieces.

2.      Cut the kathal into 1 inch cubes. Discard the hard middle section of the kathal as it doesn't cook.
3.      Soak some tamarind in water and squeeze out the tamarind juice. Add one tsp of salt and a pinch of turmeric to this extract. Put the kathal pieces in this tamarind water and pressure cook. Switch off after one whistle.
4.      Drain the kathal. After draining, fry the pieces in a shallow pan adding two tbsps oil for each batch of about ten pieces. Fry till they are golden brown in color.
5.      To give it a yummier taste, add potato as well. Cut potato into half-inch pieces and fry. Do not remove the skin.

The fried pieces 

To prepare gravy:
  1. Make a powder of 6-7 cloves, dalchini, elaichi(big), 1 tsp black pepper, 1/4 nutmeg, 1 tbsp dhaniya, & 1 tsp jeera
  2.  Make a paste of 3 medium-sized onions. Fry in 2 tbsps of oil till it starts leaving oil.
  3. Add 1 tsp of ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  4. Add the above masala powder. Fry well. Add turmeric and lal mirchi powder. Fry for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add paste of 2 large tomatoes. Keep stirring from time to time till the paste starts leaving oil.
  6. Add salt and tej patta. Add water (approx 2 glasses) till you have the desired consistency for the gravy.
  7. Add the fried kathal and potato pieces, cover with lid and cook for 10 minutes on low flame.

                                                                      And ready to go!

  1. This recipe is for three people.
  2. A ten-inch long kathal is enough for five people.
  3.  It is important to make this kathal ki sabzi in mustard oil to enhance its flavor.
  4.  Some people recommend adding the mutton masala powder available in the shops instead of the garam masala that I used.
  5.   It takes about an hour and half to prepare the curry.
  6.  It can be eaten with roti/nan/ paratha.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I received this SMS some time back and every time my thumb moved to delete it, I stopped. So sharing this:

You don't know how high you can fly until you give a real try. 
Just do your best in each try. 
Maybe the sky will have to shift a little high. 

For people who are not risk-takers, this message is wonderfully inspirational.
Thanks, Sheetal, for sending this.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Of Anna(s) and Events

There is one Anna sitting in fasting in Delhi protesting against corruption. It is amazing to see how he swept up and touched people across the country! The middle class, the (largely) honest tax payer was hurting as scam after scam of unimaginable proportions was hitting headlines. Looking back, Harshad Mehta’s 4000 crore scam seems diminutive now! The latest one, the 1.76 lakh crore scam befuddles most of the middle class minds who don’t really know how many zeros the figure contains. Many of them are busy commuting to work, working, taking care of family and inevitably paying the taxes through salary deductions. Caught up in this loop and unable to do little else, they only can be frustrated and helpless when they see their hard earned money warming some undeserved pockets. That one voice, therefore, garnered gigantic waves of support. Like everything else these days, Anna’s movement also is seen through eyes of cynicism. Plenty of voices have FBed and Twittered, both for and against the agitation.

Just about a week ago, the crowd frenzy took a different dimension. History repeated itself on the 2nd of April. The underdog of 1983 had now become the favorites for the 2011 World Cup. The difference between 1983 and 2011 also is the pervasion of cricket into many more homes via TV screens. In a country where a wooden plank, three sticks and a ball make cricket, where you find kids playing cricket on every road and gully, where the children may not remember the Math formulas but cricket stats are quoted confidently and accurately, Dhoni came close to displacing Sachin from the position of Cricket God with THE SIX which made history by bringing the world cup back to our country after a 28-year long wait.

And then we have the Annas of Telangana. [Yeah, men usually address each other as ‘Anna’ in the Telangana regions of AP]. One of those Annas went on a fast for independent state of Telangana last December. Hyderabad has seen several bandhs in the last one year seriously disturbing the life of general public. People closer to the OU were practically imprisoned in their homes as the Annas and their followers resorted to stone pelting and destruction of public property. These protests gathered momentum and led to the so-called Million March on the 11th last month. People gathered in droves defying the police, breaking through barricades to join in the protest, wreaking havoc, breaking the statues that lined the road, throwing the desecrated and broken statues and cameras snatched from the journalists into the murky waters of the Hussain Sagar.

We witnessed crowds, enthusiasm, hullaballoo, cheering, stomping, sloganeering, madness and mayhem…all within the last one month.  In the first event, the fight is against the common enemy of the middle class—the greedy government official. In the second, it is India against the rest of the world. In the third, it is one Telugu against another Telugu. While the first event caused people to connect emotionally and fight as one single entity with a enemy within, the second brought tears of great joy and goose bumps as we, irrespective of class, creed, religion and language celebrated our—India’s—moment of triumph over the world, the third had us frightened by the sight of the noisy mobs silencing the streets with their acts of violence and mayhem.

I do not know what motivates someone like Anna Hazare to speak for the people. But right now, I, as a middle class person will rather submit to the optimism that the voice beckons, be swept away in the euphoric success story of Indian cricket than be intimidated by pessimistic, destructive and divisive forces.                                                                

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Came across this wonderful poetry and was taken through a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Friendship was either 'katti' or 'mitti' in those days. Put your thumb under your chin and flick it a couple of times and it was a 'katti' meaning end of friendship. 'Kattis' would last a few hours or maybe till the next day. Things were forgotten and forgiven quickly as you needed that very friend to play with the next evening. Wagging of your little finger showed a 'mitti' and your friendship was instantaneously resumed.

What happens to all those stories of  friends &  best friends--'kacha dost' and 'pakka dost'? What happens to those promises of ever lasting  friendship? What is it in the adult world that does not permit such friendships any more? Why is trust so hard to come by? We have never seen a more well-networked generation. Yet, I believe we are the loneliest of people.

Listening to this very simple poetry brought  a tear to the eye and the memory of  all those small meaningful things now lost for ever.