Mumbai Memoir 125- Exploring food in Quarantined Mumbai!
Its been a month now that Mumbai city is in the ‘lock down’ mode. Initially it was a compulsion-like feeling for all, as everyone was unable to move out of one’s own home. But now, given the increasing numbers of Coronavirus cases in Mumbai, there is a self-restriction that everyone is practising. No one wants to take the risk of getting sick and being taken by the Municipal Corporation people to be treated in the hospitals that are ‘danger zones’ for even doctors!
Though the city is in lock down, life moves on in ‘slow motion’ pace for every Mumbaikar. The only activity seen on the road is of people venturing out to purchase groceries and veggies. Given the population of Mumbai, it is obvious that there will be crowding and pandemonium at the marketplace. The police have been strict with their approaches and the media has been constantly reporting the death tolls and how still the people are flocking at the super-markets, in spite of the lock down.
I was wondering why people are venturing out in the first place and are they not afraid of contracting the virus? In my quest to understand this ‘irresponsible’ behaviour (as quoted by the media), I brought to my memory an anecdote from the post Korean war period of 1953, which I had once read. After the Korean War ended, South Korea was left with large number of children who had been orphaned by the war. The major problem in the orphanages that hosted the orphans was that, even though the children had three meals a day provided for them, they were restless and anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping. On investigating it was found that, the children were extremely anxious regarding the availability of food the following day. As a solution, the orphan kids were given one bread every night before they were tucked in bed by their nannies. The bread was not intended to be eaten, rather it was symbolic of hope, as the bread acted as a “security blanket” for them, reminding them that there would be provision for their daily needs. This gesture calmed the children’s anxieties and helped them sleep. Thus, we take comfort in knowing that our physical survival is being taken care of, especially when a caretaker or a governing authority provides us with food and other important security measures.
It dawned over me that, in these anxious times, Mumbaikars are exactly behaving like those Korean orphans and hoarding more food for the coming days, which is a very natural survival instinct. Had the government provided the groceries and veggies at their doorsteps, then no one would have flocked to the marketplace and risked their life and that of others.
Well, now talking about food eaten at my place, we have created a norm since the city is under lock down. Mostly its rice and gravy-based lentils with occasional novelty food item made of simple ingredients. A couple of days back, my mom made Stuffed Eggs (‘Bharleli Andi’ as referred in the Marathi language) and I must say it was delicious to its core! The preparation of this dish is extremely simple. While boiling 2 eggs, we simultaneously took a pan in which cubes of onions, grated coconut, garlic petals, cinnamon, garam masala, cloves & salt were mixed and roasted with drizzles of oil in it. This spicy mixture is then stuffed in the gaps of the sliced boiled eggs. Then the stuffed eggs are placed in a pan for undergoing a 2-3 mins steaming process. Once cooked the stuffed eggs are ready to eat with a garnishing touch of sliced onions, lemon and sprinkle of cilantro/coriander leaves! This egg dish is easy to cook and healthy too.
I believe, in these quarantine times, when there are limitations on groceries, and where most of the restaurants around are closed, the food served in one’s plate is like a blessing to be appreciated, even in its most simplistic form!
NOTE: Praying to the Lord, to….’give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’. Stay Safe!
Photo Courtesy: Shraddha. C. Sankulkar
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