Mumbai Memoir 129- Exploring Minimal pleasure in the ‘Maximum City’!
Its been almost 3 months now that Mumbai has lost its social gravity. Since the ‘Un-lockdown 1.0 phase’, which started in Mumbai from 8th June’2020, there is an ambience of confusion. Everyone seems to be in a dilemma if ‘all is well’ & should venture out, or should one be defensive and stay at home? In such a tensed environment one tends to search for positivity & solace in their ‘control bubble’.
During the lockdown/semi-lockdown, one’s home, car, office, private garden, laptop, phone, terrace, writing/work desk etc. can be a ‘control bubble’ in which one looks forward to conduct various positive activities for their well-being. For me, my home, car & office have always been my ‘control bubbles’. But since the lockdown, like most of us, home is one area where I can gain upbeat experiences through my work, music, writing & exploring food.
These days, it is fun to occasionally enter the kitchen, which exclusively happens to be my mom’s ‘control bubble’ where I assist her to prepare food preparations that tempt & tease the stomach & the eyes! In the past 2 months the most memorable culinary activity was the preparation of Yam Chips (Suran Chips) & mango pulp (Aam Ras)
Yam is a root plant, therefore care has to be taken to clean the mud that sticks to it. This root has huge nutritional value. It is a good source of fibre and Vitamin C, which is a good immunity booster. The preparation of the Yam Chips is pretty simple. A piece of ‘elephant foot’ Yam (Suran/Jimikand) has to be first boiled along with little salt, haldi (turmeric powder) & 1 piece of Kokum (Garcinia Indica fruit). The kokum helps smoothen the pricky surface of the yam. Once boiled, thin slices have to be cut out of the yam. These slices then are smeared with a mixture of spicy masala (red chilly masala+ chaat masala+salt) and rice flour. The last step is to shallow fry till they become slightly crispy. Squeezing lemon over the Yam chips, along with a ketchup dip is the best way of experiencing this amazing snack.
Yet another food preparation that created pleasant moments during the heat of the lockdown was ‘Aam Ras’ (mango pulp). In India, mango is a seasonal fruit that is available in the month of April-May. This time it was very difficult to get the fruit as many mango orchard owners could not transport the mangoes due to the lockdown restrictions. But still, somehow we managed to get a dozen of mangoes from the market near-by. Mango is referred as ‘Aamba’ in my mother tongue Marathi and ‘Aam’ in my National language- Hindi. Thus ‘Aam Ras’ means thick juice of Mango, which is seasoned with cardamom (elaichi) & nutmeg (jaiphal) powder along with sugar. Here’s a video for detail preparation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSClMIktJAc Beside eating it with Puri (deep fried wheat flatbread) & Roti (wheat roasted flatbread) I add cold water to the Aam Ras and love to sip it on a hot summer day of May.
But one needs to take care, not to over-indulge into ‘comfort eating’. Due to the stress and strain of the gloom around, people may tend to constantly derive comfort from food and may get addicted to release their brain’s happy chemicals via food. Binge eating on favorite foods is unhealthy and its an indication of some underlining toxic emotional issue that is/was not being healthily processed. Besides this, given the less physical movement these days, accumulation of fat and sugar can further complicate one’s body’s metabolism, thus inviting heart and obesity issues in the long run. But I highly recommend such occasionally experienced culinary pleasures in one’s ‘control bubble’, which certainly would bring ‘minimalistic’ joy in midst of a pandemic torn ‘maximum’ world!