As we say goodbye to a gorgeous summer, fond memories from this winter tiptoed into my head... Curled under a down comforter, I listened to the muffled sounds of the world outside. It was snowing, gentle reader, and I was cocooned in warmth, trying to stretch this moment out indefinitely.
Transported to a different time and place, the luxury of waking up leisurely at my grandparents' came back to me. Bright sunlight streamed through the windows, the bed was enormous and always smelled good. Ajja (our grandfather) would bathe and do his morning prayer (japa). Sacred thread on his brown back, he would sit crosslegged and read the Gita. In an attempt to inculcate some goodness into his fiendish grandkids, he read some of his shlokas out loud.
AkAshAt patitaM toyaM yathA gacChati sAgaram |
sarvadevanamaskAraH keshavaM prati gacChati ||
"Just as water that falls from the sky goes to the ocean,
so also all our prayers ultimately reach the Lord"
These words have always been reassuring. Like that raindrop inching towards its eventual destination, its good to be reminded of the inevitability of our absolution.
If you're a raindrop in Upstate New York, the journey may be a little longer. From the giant lake into vapour. Carried by clouds, swollen and tremulous. Finally take the shape of a little snowflake. Swirling through space and time. To eventually land on an eyelash, maybe sparkle on a windowpane or perhaps frozen into an long, sharp icicle, waiting for spring... Nevertheless, the gentle earth will draw you close and send you on your way.
In keeping with the mood, lets make Raagi Haalbai. This is one of those dishes that loving family makes for you. Its not glamorous. Its never featured on a menu in a restaurant. But your mother or devoted aunt will bring out pieces of cool halbai on a warm afternoon, as post-lunch treat perhaps. Or when you come home from school, grimy and ready for stick-to-your-ribs sustenance.
Many many thanks - you know who you are... Everytime I think of halbai, I think of all the ways you've nurtured me.
How to make it:
1. Mix on low flame: 1 cup ragi flour, 1 cup coconut (fresh / frozen), 1 tablespoon rice flour, 1 cup jaggery.
2. Stir till everything mixes and the the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan.
3. Sprinkle a little cardamom into it. Cool and pat into a flat surface. Enjoy and know that you're loved, inside and out.