Tag Archives: indian recipes

Behind the blue pastel #Fragments

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For now, my pen, all three of them actually-are at rest.

All of the writing projects are in a lull. One writing project is being reviewed at a draft level for release slated as March next year. The others being very much being paused due to a lack of mojo. I am taking a rest, as the daydreams have disappeared for a bit and  have left me to my own devices.

With that, I have been thinking about Fragments and the process of writing it. What I have been reflecting upon, is why I wrote it and the stories that are within the pages. For days, I have been thinking about what I might share about a book that I feel I had to write, wanted to write and hope that people might something out of. Three things, that are no different to how I felt when writing about my allotment and on this blog. Three very important drives when picking up a pen and committing thoughts and feelings to paper.

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‘Fragments’ is not a book full of sunshine, rainbows or butterflies. The theme of the book and that which covers all of the six stories is grief. Grief, bereavement and loss is something, that like taxes is part of our lives.

It happens to us all, but for each of us the journey that occurs is unique.

Grief, bereavement and loss are also veiled in social acceptance; talking about grief, showing how it affects us and then processing it, is all very much on the down low. It is shied away from, thought of as dark, gloomy and best dealt by alone. Grief, bereavement and loss feel spikey; we hold these things at arms length and wrinkle up our noses when faced with them.

‘Fragments’ started it’s life nine months after I experienced the loss of my  maternal grandfather. He was the last grandparent. To this day, I remember the message that my sister sent me, I remember telling my mum-the hardest thing, that I have ever had to do-and I remember leaving work, climbing into George, turning off the music, and heading off towards the A444. I remember Nana still being there and at home, whilst I went looking for saucepans and tea bags in the kitchen. I remember cursing March, as it was such a pain in the backside. There was relief when March ended, I can assure you.

Starting to write in November and much later in the year, I didn’t think about purpose, tone or audience. I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book. All I wanted to do, was write down the day dream that I was experiencing and as quick as I could on lined paper with a green biro. I had written two thirds of the first chapter, when I realised that what I was writing was important. I couldn’t give it up, and I had to go with it. There was no plan, I  had not plotted out arcs or characters. This was seat of the pants writing, and then some.

I found a notebook, a robust one; I wanted to do this properly. This daydream was far too important to ignore and at this point, I thought about planning what shape it would take.

All in all, six interwoven stories appeared on the page. I know, there are only five on the blurb. But hey, find it, open it,  and find the sixth.

There are the Anands, Christopher, Daniel, Michael, Aldo and Matthew within the pages.

The Anands are an Anglo-Indian family who lose a wife and mother. Christopher loses his dog. Daniel loses his husband, Michael and Aldo are parents bereaved. Like me, Matthew experiences the loss of a grandparent.

I have another character in the book. Marcy, a counsellor.

All of these characters, these people somehow reflect the world around me. There were times, that during the writing process they all felt real and very much three-dimensional. Figments of my imagination these characters may have been, but within the pages of Fragments their worlds are some form of reality.

Over the course of nearly two years, the six stories were developed. I must have dragged them on every adventure I went on, used bottles of ink and spent hours poring over the two notebooks that the stories would fill. There were tears, when I felt the stories so strongly and had to sit back with a cuppa to be at arms length. There were smiles when the words flowed. In writing the book, I had put my soul onto the page to go through both pleasure and pain.

When it ended, I felt a loss and not to dissimilar to that experienced by the characters.

Fragments had become a part of me, it contained so much that I thought I had dealt with. It became an act of self care-though, at times when I pushed myself to get it written, this didn’t feel the case. Writing helped me to process what my own feelings and thoughts were and I cannot find the words to convey this more clearly.

When eighty per cent of Fragments was written and Christmas 2016 drawing close, there was another family bereavement.

My pen froze.

December 2016 was painful as Aunty Indra passed away.  Again, I was cursing the month for being so awful.  I couldn’t write a single solitary thing. I don’t think I was supposed to, the universe didn’t want that to happen and at that point, I put books of any sort aside.

It was an interesting book-end. Fragments started with a death, it was finishing with a death.

Time had to pass and grief had to be processed before I could pick up  my pen again. When I did and at the end of January, Fragments was ready to resume its course.

It wasn’t just the writing that was therapeutic. Making the cover was also important to me. Whilst I had the title of the book, nothing felt right when it came to the cover. So much so, I fancied getting creative. In already having a stash for colouring, I knew that I had soft pastels somewhere. I used these to create three different pieces. All blue; blue felt right for this book and I went with it. Playing with sugar paper and soft pastels was rather interesting! What I couldn’t then do, was decide which one would be the cover and the options went to a public vote via social media. I gave no clue as to what the image was for or what the content of book was.  In then end, ‘Fabric of the universe’ won and became the book cover.

Recently, when learning about grief and bereavement during my counselling diploma, Fragments took on another dimension. I saw the book, the themes from a different perspective and as being even more real One hell of a light bulb moment occurred, and writing the book felt even more important.

I opened with saying that my pens are at rest. For now, they are and until the mojo returns, that will remain the case.

Until then, I shall be smelling the roses…..

 

Chole: That’s chickpeas, to me and you

What with all of the plot produce going into Mum’s Kitchen, and it largely being Indian recipes that are being made; I could actually share them with you. There is a plethora-or a raft, if you want synonyms-of Indian recipe books, chefs, and even youtube channels dedicated to Indian cuisine. Some of which, is wonderfully simple; others are wonderfully complicated and demand you have a huge, great big supermarket sized pantry. I say pantry, as larders don’t translate into punjabi. I don’t believe in making things complicated, and I do like to share the things that are successes.(That’s also a mental note to actually share the stuff that gets made.)

Anyway, looking at the stash of squashes that Mum harvested today, I thought hmm, well, I’ll make chickpeas. I didn’t fancy battling the squashes. Not today.

You can find the youtube link here. (Well, yes, there is a channel)

What is in that pot?

  • Onions-two large ones from the plot
  • Garlic-from the plot
  • Coriander-from the plot
  • Ginger
  • tumeric
  • Chopped tomatoes from a tin, and a handful of ripened plot tomatoes
  • ground down habanero paste
  • cayenne chilli powder
  • turmeric
  • garam masala
  • salt
  • water
  • Chickpeas

The process then:

  1. The onions were blitzed in the food processor, with garlic and ginger being chopped.
  2. In a pan, olive oil and butter were warmed and cumin seeds added to them.
  3. Onions, garlic and ginger were then added and caramalised.
  4. With the onions, garlic and ginger golden, a tin of chopped tomatoes and some ripened plot tomatoes were added.
  5. To this, we then add spices. Garam masala, salt, chilli and turmeric. I also added some finely chopped coriander that came from the plot. It didn’t come chopped, no, Mum did that.
  6. This mixture was the cooked through, there is a visible colour change. If the tomatoes are really red, and the onion mixture already a deep caramel, this really will look quite vibrant.
  7. Next, chickpeas were put in and stirred through the mixture so as to coat them.
  8. Once coated and allowed to imbue with the mixture, water was added to make a gravy.

The point of this was to not only show a simple recipe, but also indicate how plot produce might be used. Might even do it again in the future!

Plot Pumpkin meets his fate

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With two of the three plot pumpkins already having met their fate: it was time that my last one met it’s fate. Having survived Halloween, it has been hanging around for a while.

 

The process involved chopping, roasting and adding the combination of pumpkin, tomato and a bit of home grown chilli to an onion base. With this recipe, I have only used half of the 6lb fruit.

The youtube clip is here.

After roasting, we did this.

The recipe is fairly straight forward. Having peeled and chopped the pumpkin it was then roasted with an assortment of spices. Once cooked through, this was added to a base of onions, ginger, onions and cumin that had been sweated off. Adding water and simmering till tender, the pumpkin became tender and was then blitzed with a hand blender. The one difference in this soup compared to ones made previously, was the addition of home grown fenugreek for additional flavour. There were also some frozen home grown chillies in there too.

If you hold a second, I will be posting the other half, where we curry Bruno!