Is age just a number? Or does it signify something… For sure I am getting older! This year I would be celebrating my big 3 with a child who is a big 2. I don’t know if it’s the number, but I surely think it’s a bigger issue here. I chose to settle in matrimony at an early age, and as a result, my life took a fast turn into a calm sunset. Lots of my friends are still living off tinned, packaged food, while I make gourmet domesticated stuff that I grow in my garden. Flirting with fenugreek and spinach is all I do to perk up a boring week evening. And nothing can lift my mood up and beyond than a simple glass of chilled iced scotch coupled with jazz in my ears. Really, I am still in my 20-ies. But these are the things I work hard for, the good luxuries of life.
Why do you think I am ranting about age today? Well, it stemmed out of nowhere literally, but when it did, I was completely flummoxed and out of words. It all started on a fateful evening. I decided to drop in unannounced on a friend who was a birthday girl that day. In the morning when I called to wish her, I heard her recount all amazing plans for the weekend and the birthday; and I severely felt left out as I didn’t fare in any of the plans she recounted out to me. So, after my busy day in the kitchen, I picked up my little guy from school and barged in to her apartment. There I met a girl for the very first time- Miss X. I casually told her my name and she brightened up to tell me that ‘I have heard so much about you, so good to finally meet you.’ Here was Miss X, of whose existence I had no idea at all; though she regularly featured in my friends various parties and get-togethers. But she knew me by my name and I didn’t. That got me thinking, why it is that such a good friend of mine never involved me in her plans, but talked about me to everyone she met. She is still single, has a happening life in the metro. She can go to Agra at a moment’s notice. Somehow I don’t have that luxury anymore. I have matured into a place where I plan each day in the morning, and follow it immaculately all throughout. I cook, I write, I garden, I work and then I drink my favourite and off to sleep to wake up to this very routine again. Boring is it? Don’t know! Am I too busy to notice? Don’t know again! Am I enjoying this? Well, in a very strange fashion, yes I am.
I am enjoying being in this routine. We do party, but our parties don’t have night clubs or discos anymore. And somehow, we have grown to like such a quiet elegant life. Merits are plenty too. We eat healthy each day, and so eating out or ordering in is special and is done to make memories. We spend our days thinking about designs of new furniture or some other thing like a new dish or a new crop to grow. And my little guy, he is in the centre of it all. We have grown old. And it’s good to agree, feel and act like your mental age. After all, I conclude- Age is just a number!
Today’s recipe is nothing else. It’s an ode to mature tastes. As a child everyone hates colocasia. It’s an acquired taste, just like whiskey. A matured palette can differentiate the finer nuances of the taste. The itching fades away as our throat becomes bolder to fathom more calcium oxalate than before. Today I made this dish to be served in a potluck. I packed it in colourful dabbas, and the picture is testimony to that. But really, the dish can’t get simpler than that. Now, I created this curry with colocasia stems, but you can easily substitute it with cauliflower, following exactly the same steps as shown below.
500 gms Colocasia stems, washed peeled and cut in 2 inch size pcs
To be ground to a fine paste
· 2 tbsp of black mustard seeds
· 1.5 tbsp poppy seeds
· Green chillies to taste
· Pinch of salt
· Very little water
P.S. I don’t strain the paste to remove the black shells of the mustard. You can if you so wish to. The old kakimas (aunties) always blamed the shorshe shells for their husband’s poor tummy. Though I feel otherwise, and blame the mustard oil instead.
2 to 3 tbsp of mustard oil (I know it’s quite less, but if you use this efficiently it will give you amazing results)
A pinch of ginger paste (to enhance the mustard flavour)
1 tsp of onion seeds/ nigella seeds
Water as per requirement
Salt, sugar and turmeric as per taste.
Wash and drain the stems well and in a steaming pot, steam it in a microwave/steamer with some water. Steam on high power for 5 minutes. Let cool, strain and discard the water which would now be filled with calcium oxalate- the culprit that causes the itching. Let the stems drain out completely and come back to room temperature.
Once it’s cold to touch, smear on the mustard and poppy seed paste evenly. Mix in the ginger, salt, turmeric and a tbsp. of oil. Marinade in it for 30 minutes or so.
In a non-stick wok, heat a tbsp. of mustard oil till smoking hot. Splutter in the onion seeds and tip over the marinated stems.
Cook it on low to medium flame, stirring it occasionally till its soft and cooked through. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes. To aid it to cook faster, partially cover the wok with a lid, but make sure to toss every now and then to incorporate air. This will help in uniform cooking.
Salt it generously as it would be served dry with steamed rice. As an optional step, do balance the taste and pungency by adding some sugar and mixing it well in the dish. Just 2 big pinches of sugar would do the trick.
Once you are happy with the texture and taste, switch off the gas and drizzle on a tbsp. or more of raw mustard oil. This is optional, but highly recommended as it takes the dish up to a new height where no one will understand wat exactly hit them. Serve piping hot with steamed rice.