Bengaluru quirks #3

When you walk the roads of Jayanagar and find a tiny shop with ‘Jalaram’ and ‘Gujarati items’ on the name board selling khakra with irregular brown baked spots on it and Pav that smells like it’s fresh from Bombay, and they also sell Dhokla & Khandvi (which is already sold out), you know you have arrived at the right place. You are happy about the changes in the city.

I personally was happy to find old connection to my new home.



Bengaluru quirks #2

I dread each time there is a plumbing situation at home. The one decent plumber we thought we found has started to act like the student who excuses the class, either due to sudden death of a relative or some health issue.

If they have to give excuses to work, how do they earn?


Looking for my crazy…

It’s been a while now, since I have been trying to connect the dots for myself, though it’s only been a few weeks since I have seriously started doing some self reflection. I recently saw this unique stand up comedy by Hannah Gadsby called ‘Nanette’; a powerful one. One of the things she mentions is to tell your story so that you can connect; maybe to someone who can help you, maybe to someone who is going through the same, or it might just make people aware that such a story exists.

I surely don’t have such a powerful story as hers (not that I have to compare), but I feel I need to type it out somewhere so that it gives me a sense of clarity or just reduces the baggage.

My story for me begins with the day I just happened to realise how much I enjoy solitude. It just dawned to me that there is a world outside the conservative home that I was brought up in and there are places and people out there. I also think this seed was sown by my father unknowingly when he used to talk about stories of his friends from different places and the odd jobs he did.

So yes, the age when girls thought of their looks, dreamt about their future, goals and what not, I had just one thought in my mind, I wanted to travel to new places and meet a lot of people. There was no real goal or ambition nor had I thought of a career. To get away, I had to get hold of something that would make sense to the people around me, so I choose this exotic course which no one had ever heard about (at least the people I knew hadn’t heard of it) and off I went to do the course.

Yes, I grew passionate about the course and where it was leading me. Far away from home that I was, I had to jump from one friend’s house to another relative’s home during the few days of holidays. I was living in villages, walking alone on endless empty roads, making friends with tea stall guy.Without consciously trying I had started living what I had imagined for more than a year; I was going places and meeting people. I was in a different kind of high. People who have often traveled talk about this feeling; the feeling the out-of-the-comfort-zone experience, going with the flow and all that. So yes, I did all that, I didn’t merely travel, I stayed, I lived in places and moved almost each year and  would go home in between jobs.

Most of the time I was day dreaming and being content but also with a slight nagging feeling of wanting someone with whom I can share this. The feeling was not of wanting a partner (or maybe it was) but it was about wanting a place I belong, wanting my family (even if not always). There was a struggle between the two worlds; a world where I was a friend at a stranger’s place and a world where I was a stranger at my own home.

People who knew me from before were probably confused of the path I was taking, or they didn’t understand it (I, for sure couldn’t explain it). Gradually I was referred to as being weird / different / bold / courageous / loner depending on what the situation called for and my feeling towards it also depended on how I felt. Most times, I felt proud and cool about myself, but there were other times when I longed to be simple and uncomplicated for others (at least for the people I really cared about).

Soon, the balance between these feelings was gone, and I was stuck with the thought that I wasn’t simple and normal enough for people. I was too ‘crazy’. I think it was then that my crazy slowly but steadily went into hibernation for a long period.

In between, I have continued to juggle with experiences, shifted cities, found a place to belong, people to share my stories with and yet there is this hollow feeling inside. I think it is mostly a feeling of doubt and fear. Will the people around me accept my crazy? Will I be able to balance it this time? Will I handle the lessons I am going to learn better than before?

Recently I went to a nearby park with my husband who is a partially obsessed runner. While he went behind his obsession, I put my earphones and the new favourite song on loop and went for a slow walk around the lake. I sat down on the bench to look at the cloudy day, the trees and the birds. I decided to climb up the small hillock and just sit by myself watching pigeons fly (an old habit), watching an old man meditate and still listening to the same song.

I felt my crazy is waking up… slowly but steadily. It is.


Sihi Kumbalakai Sasmi

I never realised that I am food explorer until lately. It’s been quite a journey understanding food memories and how to adapt it in my everyday life. Also, getting married and living with a new family sort of mixes up memories. A bit from here, a bit from there and also the new… thus my food journey continues…

Somewhere it has been a conscious decision on not disliking any vegetable. Yes, we all have our preferences and it is tough to let go, especially when food is associated with a bad memory. Because I lived far from home for studies and work, sometimes far even from civilization, I respect hunger first and then taste. I guess, there is always a sense of gratitude when it comes to eating food and I hope it never changes. I don’t want the arrogance of taste to take away the feeling of basic necessity that hunger brings in.

Anyways, the post is not about my food philosophy but about the conscious effort I’m making to include all vegetables while cooking. One vegetable that I realised I had been avoiding for a couple of years now is the Red pumpkin. For a really short period when I lived in Assam, in a working women’s hostel, I think I had had a overdose of this particular vegetable. And later when I moved in with my parents my mom would just boil it with other vegetables and create some side dish for chappati. Basically I think, somewhere the flavor of the vegetable was ruined for me.

Here in Bangalore, no one thought of buying pumpkin and when I asked about it, it was avoided because it was sweet. I agree, even I’m not too fond of sweet things in my meal. When my first attempt to make a side dish out of it failed, I gave up.

A couple of weeks ago when I went to visit my friend’s parents unannounced, her mom had just cooked a simple meal of sambar and rice. As always she offered to mix the sambar rice for me with a spoon of ghee. There were big chunks of a vegetable and when I pressed it with my fingers it almost felt like potato. And there was a strong aroma which was not like regular sambar, this was of mustard, and that is how I discovered…. Sihi Kumbalakai Sasmi (Red pumpkin in mustard & coconut gravy).

Since I didn’t find the recipe online, or more importantly didn’t know what to type on Google to search, I got the recipe from my friend’s mom. I think this recipe needs to be typed and recorded. Especially if someone is trying to cook something different using Red pumpkin.

*Note: One can use Malabar cucumber instead of red pumpkin as well.


Serves: 3 to 4


Red pumpkin – 250 gms (chopped into big cubes)

Tamarind extract – 1/2 cup

Hing – 1/4 tsp

Turmeric – 1/4 tsp

Jaggery – 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

To grind:

Grated coconut – 1 cup

Dry red chillies (local Bydagi) – 3 (more if you want spicy)

Urad dal – 3 tsp

Mustard – 1/2 tsp

Jeera – 1/4 tsp


Oil – 2 tsp

Mustard – 1 tsp

Red chillies – 2


  1. Pressure cook the Red pumpkin with very less water for 1 whistle. You can also directly cook it in the stove, since it doesn’t take much time.
  2. While this is happening, you can dry roast the ingredients for grinding (except coconut). Roast each ingredient separately to avoid burning them.
  3. Once the spices have cooled down, grind it into a paste with the grated coconut using little water.
  4. Mix the tamarind paste with the boiled pumpkin and let it cook till the rawness of the tamarind has reduced.
  5. Add the ground paste to it, with turmeric, hing and salt to taste. If the tamarind is strong, add jaggery to balance it off.
  6. Season it with mustard seeds and red chillies, and your Sihi Kumbalakai sasmi is done!

My friend loves it with hot chappatis and of course, it goes really well with hot rice as well!

Hope this brings some happy food memories.