Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter's Gold


January is drawing to a close, and we are in a hurry to enjoy what is left of the winter season. When the morning's fog clears, the marigolds in the garden look as if you could drink the sunshine out of them. There are fresh oranges to juice up, and though they get more expensive every year, they taste great.


Home-made Marmalade - No sitting in the sun and making this!

Sweet and golden are the days spent idling in the winter sun. The festival of sun-worship, Sankranti/Pongal, just went past. The Bengali month of Poush finished in mid-January. It is a special month for foodies : a host of traditional sweets are prepared with 'khejur gur', the jaggery made from date palm syrup. Jaggery is a wonderful thing to eat in winter, and far more healthy than refined white sugar. Date palm jaggery has a mature mellowness and booziness which is quite missing in sugar cane jaggery. It is sold in rounds like this one, below.


Khejur gur and Sandesh
When the month of Poush began in mid-December, I started checking with our general store owner in town whether his stock of Khejur gur had arrived yet. He said, 'Abhi kahaan itna thhanda hua hai? Thhanda hone se aayega' (Is it cold these days? the gur will only be ready when it is really cold.) The 'gur' needs sunshine as well as cold to reach the right levels of sweetness.

Golden brown Khejur gur Roshogollah puts regular white Roshogolla in the shade. Khejur gur roshogollah, sandesh, paayesh and kalakand are sold in shops. The best sweets, though, are the ones made at home. Bengali women who are experts in the kitchen make amazing sweets from khejur gur. When my mother is here, she too makes her special 'Thenga Paal Payasam' with Khejur gur. I find myself closing my eyes just thinking about that Payasam.


The 'Paayesh' in this picture was painstakingly prepared by Mrs. Rama Mitra-Majumdar in Moraghat and sent to all the bungalows a couple of days ago. The base is paayesh, thickened milk sweetened with Khejur gur, and the rice flour peetha/dumplings are filled with coconut and jaggery paste. Simply heavenly.

26 January is a favourite date for picnics. We had our garden families' picnic at the Pump House in the "NG" Division, on 25th January. The smiling faces say it all.

8 comments:

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

They all look so happy!

And the other pictures made ME so happy.

Rada said...

"..the marigolds in the garden look as if you could drink the sunshine out of them..."

That is a nice turn of phrase!

Maybe you should try poetry.

flowergirl said...

...and made me so hungry!!

Kamini said...

Must you taunt us with pictures of delicacies which we poor souls in faraway lands have no hope of eating?!
Methinks a trip to Moraghat is in order....

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

That marmalade looks delicious, too. Well worth the wait over at the hot stoves, eh?

nilanjana majumdar said...

mum packed me some fresh khejur gur sourced from our ancestoral village this time while i was at Kolkata whilst returning from the holidays this winter...
and I made this payesh for all of us ..it tasted awesome!!!!
this post makes me hungry again

shalini mehra said...


Gowri you have the beautiful way with words and imagination to turn ordinary in extraordinary .... mundane into picturesque ... i can smell merigold ... relish marmalade ...... see the foggy morning turning into golden Sun-glowed afternoon... the winter lazy afternoons of tea ...... you revoke so much nostalgia for me....

Stay blessed

Gardenia said...

Shalini, thank you for your kind words. These days most people are satisfied to leave a 'like' on Facebook, but you've taken the trouble to write. Thank you for making me write again and again - your phone call would have me sitting down to do a new piece for the 'Camellia' and it was really good to feel appreciated and wanted!!