Manjula’s Meals Number two

Dhal 

Manjula provides lovely Indian vegetarian meals at Mysore Bed and Breakfast for our guests from India and countries throughout the world. Our international guests, in particular, are interested in learning more about Indian cuisine.

She can often be seen with the kitchen full of guests while she demonstrates and provides lessons on how to cook various dishes. It does get a bit cramped!

Our meals together are an important part of sharing our home.

After many requests we’ve decided to post recipes, even demonstrations here on our journal/bloglet. We’ve started with a couple of simple examples, first: Ragi Soup (Ragi is fast becoming a smart-ish food) check here for the recipe and on this page follow the link to our first home made (and it shows!) video featuring how to make Dhal. The recipe is below. check the video

If you wish to see a really good video of Manjula cooking. It’s not a recipe but a great video of Manj at work, created by our lovely friends Tom and Amy. This is a serious professionally made video, not to be missed! 🙂  Its here.

The recipe for Dhal
Ingredients for the first stage
11/2 tsp Turmeric powder
11/2 tsp Cumin seeds
3 Tomato
4 green Chilli
1 small Garlic
Small bunch Coriander
2 cups water1 cup Dhal

1 cup Dhal

Chop veg in small pieces
Add all ingredients together in pressure cooker.
With lid on and gas lit, leave cooking for twenty minutes or 4-5 whistles of the cooker.
Switch off and leave to cool for twenty minutes.

Check and if necessary add a little more water and boil for a few moments
Ingredients for the second stage
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp mustard seed
2-3 red chilli

add oil to a saucepan, then mustard seed, fry for a moment, then add cumin seeds, fry for a moment then add red chilli, fry then add Dahl. Fry for ten minutes. Then it’s ready.

Farrell Factoid

Manjula’s meals have become a great success at Mysore Bed and Breakfast. She doesn’t, however, cook every night (so please note its availability is not guaranteed). Guests usually do however get at least one dinner. We are a vegetarian household. I’m the vegetarian, not Manjula who eats out with me or other friends to get her regular meat input!

Manjula’s meals, number one

 

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Manjula’s Ragi Soup

Ragi 
A staple of the diet here in south India. A form of millet grown with limited water. Traditionally made into Ragi Balls and eaten as a highly nutritious breakfast before heading out into the fields. Here’s a very simple Soup recipe.

 
As simple nutritious Ragi Soup

 
Carrot

Green Beans

Peas

Sweet corn

Maybe spring onion. Whatever veggies you would like to add!
First finely chop the veg and boil a little to leave the veg a little crunchy.
Ragi flour
Mix a small (steel glass) of Ragi flour with 2-3 cups of water to create a paste.

Add to the veg and boiling water and gently mix.

Add salt, black pepper.
Switch off gas and add lemon (maybe half) to taste, .
Some people use cornflour but I don’t use any other flour.
Manjula

 

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Eating Ragi Ball with gravy

Farrell Factoid on Ragi Balls
They are highly nutritious and low cost. People in the villages would have a large one in the morning before heading out in the fields which would keep them going for hours.
I asked Manjula a couple of years back why we hadn’t had Ragi Balls, so she made some, and now I know, why.
It’s a large ball similar to a dumpling. To eat it, wet the fingers with the gravy (curry) pull a piece off and roll it into a small ball. Then throw it to the back of the mouth and swallow it straight away. Why?

 

I now know the answer to that too.

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Swalow it straight!

 

 

 

It tastes like earth and sticks to the roof of your mouth! Simple really.

Ragi is becoming quite trendy and you can get Ragi Dosa among other inventive things. It’s a good thing for our health and the health of the environment as it uses much much less water than the other main crops, namely rice and sugar cane.

 

want a boy or a girl?

Manjula was hanging out at her friend the tailors. It’s become quite a place for women to gather, to pass the time of day and chat!

A customer four months pregnant was wishing for a girl. She already had a three year old boy but now wanted a girl. It created a big conversation of the relative merits of boys and girls.

 

“my husband is no good, my husband’s brother is no good” (drinking every day, not bringing money home, lady is therefore having to work) “so I don’t want a boy”, said the pregnant lady.

the lady tailor says boys are good, come back home no problem if girl comes home late big problem, with ‘monthly’ starting things start to get expensive, clothes, gold needed for the marriage

Manjula says girl is good, looking after Mummy and Daddy if there is any problem, boys don’t care, some boys are good. Some boys are bad. Our next door neighbours son, maybe unusually, has a disabled mother and he is still unmarried carries her around and generally looks after her.

Manjula reckons that girls are like our dog Lucy, she didn’t mean that in a pejorative term. Lucy is sort of allowed out to do what she wants but must back in by a certain time!

 

Saris are in!

The tailors seem to be a bit of a hangout. Another customer gifted a Sari for, the Ganpati festival has brought it to leave at the tailors to sell. It’s yellow with red border. Another of the gathering asks Manjula … Why doesn’t she buy it, her friend and our cleaner Kamlama interjects, “Manjula has over 50 sarees  and doesn’t need or like it, Manjula has good taste and you should go with her when you go shopping for sarees.” 🙂

 

So there!

Manjula’s attitude is if you don’t like it, give it to someone else in you family such as your daughter, the woman says no, I want and need the money

 

Postscript

that conversation was a couple of weeks ago

Just this week we learned that the pregnant lady’s husband has died of jaundice.

The husband’s family where she lives will now look after her and her children.

things will however be very hard

Death is of course a regular occurrence but happens for what seems to be avoidable reasons. Jaundice does seem to figure a lot, maybe it’s the alcohol.

This does however show how difficult things can be. Families have to pull together and deal with the situations that arise with limited if any help from the State.

Farrell Factoid

please note: all photos are posed by models

traditionally a boy is seen as more desirable for a whole host of reasons, it leads to abortion and even infanticide and in some areas there is a massive imbalance between the sexes. For this reason that it’s actually illegal for a doctor to reveal the gender of a foetus after a scan. It’s led to some doctors winking a lot.

Manjula’s Crazy Year

we’re looking back on what has been a momentous year for Manjula.

If only for the lots of holidays in India: Kerala three times (twice to Kannur Beach House), Hampi and lots of local day trips. Sorting out her inconsistent IDs, getting her Passport, submitting tax returns, obtaining a visa for the UK and the BIGGY her first trip outside the country.

Now she’s just signed the documents to become a Director of MyCycle Tours and Travels Private Limited.

She reckons that coming to work for me (yes she did actually work for me, originally) and this house has been really lucky

So what next? watch this space.

 

village life, visiting family

Extraordinary ordinary

Manjula’s brother Raju, and his wife Deepu, daughters, Amrutha and Hamsa live in a small village of 290 people with around a 100 houses. Its 3 hours away from Mysore. It isn’t a quaint picture book village, even by Indian standards. It’s people are very poor. They do however have great character.

God only knows what they think of us arriving in a car, having driven here just for the day. At one point Manjula points out that the other villagers (not her family) will be shocked as she sits in my presence, they think I’m her boss ;-). Imagine how her life has changed.

The family always look forward to Manjula’s visits and this time, especially so, as it’s the first since the BIG trip to the UK.

At their house, the only door leads into the ‘hall’ which is maybe 9 metres square, in which there’s a couple of plastic chairs (probably borrowed for the guests to sit on) TV (gift from us) cabinet holding absolutely all their worldly goods, it’s where all the family sleep, eat and the copper/fireplace for heating the water is in the corner where there’s also space for bathing.   The only other room at the back, is where Deepu cooks on a stove.

Well, of course they had to look at the holiday snapshots!… whatever the culture, its a friend/family obligation 😉 to have to sit through the photos. With pain there is gain!!! …. The rewards from the DIG trip are presents of clothing (suitably labelled ENGLAND and LONDON), perfume, soap and  English sweets: chocolates, sherbert liquorice, the ones that go pop in the mouth, were clearly a big favourite. Discreetly Manjula placed some money next to the Goddess Lakshmi.

It’s a poor village and most people are related in one way or another, they are all from the same caste. They are mainly farmers. The odd person, such as Raju, works in construction. They do however have two small schools and children once they reach age 11 will go to school, at the next village.

So what’s this?

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Growing ginger…I’ve never seen it growing before and together with sweet corn, potatoes, Ragi, and the ubiquitous coconut, in the dark rich looking soil, it seems to show that this is a very fertile area.

We take a walk around the village. Most houses are similar, just one or two small rooms. We nip through the fields to visit Deepu’s uncles. They have a larger house but it has had two families living there.

They seem to be completely off the network of canals so, they irrigate from rainwater and borewell. I have seen one toilet (the very basic toilet that’s supported by govt funds) while walking around, so I assume that everyone otherwise uses the fields.

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Here’s Manjula using one of our established signals. She had just been for a no1. I know, I know, too much detail, so here’s a bit more. I’m now sitting here back at the family house. I’m stuffed. We’ve had rice (two types) a selection of fried bhaji, (carnivores had some chicken) all followed by Keer, and helped down with generous glasses of Lilt (lemonade). I’m wondering if I’ll manage the journey back before I need the loo. I’ve already used the bushes!

Electricity is maybe three hours max during the day and most of the evening, sometimes. It really brings it home to me, how materially rich we are and what a different life we lead! Its been a great trip and so nice to see the family happy to be together.

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I’m now very aware that we should be sharing more and wonder what it is they really need.

Farrell Factoid

There is a massive shift of the population from rural to urban areas. Raju’s wives uncles had three children and two have moved to the cities. It’s not surprising when people are so poor and they can earn maybe three or four times the usual rate, in work that’s more regular,  if they shift to the city. If they are lucky to get a thorough education they’ll definitely move.

We have a variety of signals. (see no 1 above) Another, is used (in other contexts) to signify glass half-full or empty, is used when we meet someone who’s a bit negative, a Marvin the Robot or Eeyore type or alternatively a very positive and optimistic person.

Postscript

As I’ve said, it is a very poor village but it’s still important to respect one’s Gods and build Temples. The last picture is a relief copied from the Temple they are replacing! Manjula says it’s not to go on facebook so it’s hidden at the back here. This can’t be such a surprise, after all its in the country that gave us the Kama Sutra.

 

 

 

Manjula’s Background

379003_10150528283149937_1371457865_nManjula is from a poor background. Her poverty, family instability and her experience as a woman in a patriarchal society is not atypical. She  has shown great determination, fortitude, even stoicism. It’s a common story in India. Women (and men) managing to survive through very challenging backgrounds and life circumstances.

Manjula’s story helps illuminate what life is like for so many people living in contemporary India. There may be explosive growth of the economy and the middle classes – we can see the evidence in many ways – higher disposable income, rising prices, spare money sloshing around, building-building-building, the glorification of ‘development’, leisure holidays, flash cars, waste everywhere, traffic jams, disposable nappies (diapers), house dogs… you name it, we’ve got it!

But as with everywhere else and even more so in India, the rich and poor whilst living cheek by jowl are far far away from each other. People are left out and behind, there is the risk their story is not told or realised, their needs forgotten, a myopia of the modern age.