Memories jog down fast when you least expect them to, openings gates to long forgot days, happily spent with no care or want. I haste to capture them all in one move, lest I forget! But I guess its bound to happen. The mind is so full of memories, that at times I wonder how one is able to keep pace with it.
For the better part of my life, I tried recording them in dairies, but life takes a different path each year, that I have never been able to keep up with my writing. I guess this blog has been my best option in trying to record certain daily things or those fond memories. But it's so funny yet strange, that almost all of them are related to food!
One such beautiful memory weaves around a Punjabi Chhole, that I ate years back! It was a cold winter Christmas time, it was colder because we were on a vacation in Bombay. It was my first trip to Bombay and I loved every minute of it. We went there to attend the wedding ceremony of Dad's colleague's son. The trip and those 4 days will remain forever fresh in my memory. I need no dairy to itch them down.
From the moment I stepped down the train that early morning in Pune, to the time I got on the train back to Madras, it's all still so fresh in memory. The drama that unfolded in a typical Punjabi wedding, was too good to be missed for anything. Their culture, their customs, and to top everything, their food, god I simply loved every single part of it. There I was, about to get down the train, I can still feel the cold breeze that hit me sharp.
It was 4 in the morning and it felt strange because for me to feel cold, it must have been a really cold morning. You don't get to have such cold days in Madras. We spent four wonderful days, enjoying every single moment. The account of that beautiful wedding among other things will make many posts. I will limit myself to that memory of Punjabi Chhole that stands out the most!
We started for Shiridi Sai Baba temple early in the morning and after a good darshan, started back. The journey back led us through rural rustic villages, paving way into deep dry landscapes. For all it was cold, the midday was so very hot. We were panting with breathlessness, though all we was doing, was just jostling along the car. The journey seemed endless, and we were exhausted just traveling.
We had to stop for a break and what better place than a Punjabi dhaba! Ah, that scene unfolds now in my mind and I am transported back to that day in one hot afternoon, all set to devour a roti dipping longingly into that katori full of Punjabi Chhole! It was a black gravy with shy channa peeping out all over it. No where else have I tasted a dish so earthly! It tasted of its land and the soil. Later I found that most authentic punjabi Chholes are mostly black in colour and its mostly due to the roasting of the wholes spices.
I got back with loads of memories of that one meal, happy to keep me going for many years. I have since tried recreating that Punjabi chhole, had asked many punju friends. Then I came across an old torn cookbook, which had some authentic recipes written down it. I have since bookmarked many to try. Though this Punjabi Chhole, topped the list. When I finally got down to making it, it was worth all the wait. Yes, one bite on the chhole, and I was magically taken back to that afternoon.
I have always been making chholes, I must have tried many versions. The change in this was, that I roasted it to almost to blackness and the addition of Black Cardamom. This is the first time I am using Black Cardamom. Green cardamom is very common in my kitchen. So using this black cardamom, changed a lot of things. As usual, when I searched a bit on black Cardamom, I was happy knowing so many details about this spice.