Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chakli Fail

It’s feeling like Diwali. The air has a bit of chill, but not too much. The maples in our backyard are looking absolutely divine in the mornings, as if the early sun has risen only to spray their tops in shimmering gold. There is a little crunch of leaves underfoot, the scent of Autumn in the air. This time of the year is a perfect time to celebrate Diwali. A few weeks later and it gets too cold, a few weeks earlier and it still feels like summer.

I look out the window. The cul-de-sac is quiet. School work and the chilly weather have driven the kickball players and bike riders into the routine hum of their homes. Across the street, where we live, it’s a different story. The Kingdom of DotThoughts has spun into high gear. Father and son have made a trip to our cavernous crawl space. Much to Chip’s delight. To him, the occasional trip to the dark musty underbelly of our home is like going to Ali Baba’s cave. And who am I kidding? I feel a small thrill too. Oh, look, the rattan basket that I bought to store raddi but used it maybe twice.. and over there, what’s that gleam? Ah! 25 foil pans I didn’t know I had and table cloths with “Happy Birthday” in rainbow colors. It’s like shopping without spending any money.

Chip and BigGeek haul a big black storage bin that says “Outdoor Holiday Lights”. Chip lets out a squeal. He has spotted a Santa House and a Singing Santa that we bought for $5 at a neighbor’s garage sale this summer. With the fervor of an event manager, he lugs that too. “No, Chip, that’s for Christmas. We’ll bring it up when we put up the tree.” I say. Now is the time to let you know that Chip is holiday-challenged. I can’t blame him. He is really not that into Indian festivals. Last year, he insisted on wishing everyone Happy Halloween instead of Happy Diwali. This year he wants to get all the Christmas things out and leave cookies and milk for Santa, for Diwali. Not yet, I tell him a hundredth time. First Diwali, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then, then Christmas. He crosses his brow and looks at me in disbelief. “Do you want the Halloween stuff too?” asks BigGeek from nowhere. Why not? I’ll put them up after Diwali. Chip is happy. We get out cardboard skeletons and a scarecrow and pumpkins and fall banners.

As Chip and BigGeek head outside to string the icicle lights, I turn to the faraal. I make faraal every year. No store bought stuff for me. For one, I love cooking, even though I admit with what our schedules are, all that cooking and frying drives me a bit batty. But, it just doesn’t feel like Diwali until the kitchen is filled with the scent of cardamom and tup and besan and frying and chaos. It just doesn’t. They say, our strongest and deepest memories are those of the nose. Diwali proves them right every single year.

I tell BigGeek, I cannot make unlimited faraal for everyone. I usually give a small goody bag of faraal every year to all my friends, so, it’s a limited quantity, and BigGeek usually is quite oblivious to the fact. But this year, I said the “limited quantity” out loud. BigGeek shook his head. “No, that’s not right; you can’t offer limited quantities of faraal. It has to be unlimited. All that they can eat.” My husband is obviously not afraid of me. To say such things at 8:30 pm on a weekday while I am going silently crazy. (If you have any ideas on how to make him quake in fear at my mere presence, shoot me an email)

He is banished from my immediate vicinity and I turn to survey the faraal. Ladoo, check. And they are yumm too. Chip has scarfed down one and is begging for more. Walnut burfi, check. This is a super simple recipe. My mother’s idea. Saucepan, chopped walnuts, fat free condensed milk and viola! Chivda, check. Chakli has been an utter failure. And I don’t know why, exactly. I have this steamed flour method that usually gives good results, but this time the chaklis have simply decided to dissolve in oil and laugh in my face. My attempt #1 was very frustrating and when no amount of repair made the chaklis as strong as my resolve, I, in a fit on temporary insanity, took the dough, added some methi and baking soda to it and baked them into cookies that were looked on with two pairs of very, very suspicious eyes. Attempt #2 is scheduled for tonight or tomorrow night. Wish me luck. Or better still, give me fool proof recipes that don’t involve exotic ingredients like moong flour.

I made karanjis yesterday and the golden crescents made me nostalgic and took me to my grandmother’s home for Diwali – the one year when she had decided to surprise everyone by making savory karanjis with peas. The Shankarpali caught whatever bug the chaklis had. They too dissolved and in oil and turned into a oily, crumbled pile of snarkiness. Attempt #2 will be made today or tomorrow. Or not at all. With chaklis, the magic number 5 will be reached. When the 5 items of faraal are done, I shall rest my old bones and dig in!

How is your Diwali prep shaping up? All set?


Sujatha said...

We'll be warming our butts on the hard molded benches in indoor swimming pools both days of the weekend. Waaaaaa. :( But trying to salvage at least a decent diwali dinner. Let's see.

Vinita said...

१ छोटा sour cream चा डबा
तांदळाचे पिठ,
अगदी बारीक किसलेल आल
चविप्रमाणे तिखट आणि मिठ
आणि ओवा

sour cream मध्ये मावेल येवढच तांदळाचे पिठ घालायच. त्याची consistency भाजाण्याच पिठ जस भिजवल्यावर असत तशी झाली पाहिजे.
त्यात ओवा, तिखट, खसखस, आल, आणि मिठ घालायच. आणि लगेच चकल्या करायच्या.

अगदी, नाजूक, खुसखुशीत चकल्या होतात. चकलीच्या पिठात हळद घालायची नाही. हळद deep fry करताना जळते आणि मग काळपट रंग येतो.
hee recipe maayboli var Arch navachya mulichi aahe. Saglyanna hya chakli cha khup koutuk kelela tithe waachla. Kaahi jana tyat half cup besan pan taaktaat.


Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Wow! Sounds like you've got everything ready and set for a great holiday.

Back here, the Diwali weekend coincides with three important birthdays...a friend's 40th, the BIL's and my little YO's!! SO it's going to be a mish-mash of birthday cake and card parties!

Have yourself a merry, merry Diwali!

karmickids said...

House cleaned? Check. Upholstery and soft furnishings changed? Check. Faraal and sweets made? No. Store bought all the way.

AA_Mom said...

House cleaned, Furnishings washed, Anarse, Karanji, Chivda done I just had to help my MIL. My Mom and MIL are going to give me Ladoo and chakli. Lucky me :)

rayshma said...

oh.. my mom made shankarpali and karanji yday.. and laddoos! :D
YUMM they are.
we've already finished off half! now, she's guarding the rest of them... hehehehe!!! :D

HAPPY DIWALI, dottie... i may see you around thanksgiving! :)

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

All I can say is "it's time for you to make-up for the puran polis and modaks"

We're celebrating with a whole bunch of peepz (family and friends) including out-of-towners, with permission from the county to light fireworks and all... so most of it is going to be ordered :)

Happy Diwali, dear!!

dipali said...

Such utter poetry in this post, Dottie. You inspire me-
Chakli may be fail or pass, but our Dottie's writings,
they got class:)

Have a wonderful Diwali, all of you!

Ananva said...

My chakalis turned soggy, so I stuck them in the oven for 30 mins, that seemed to have worked, I'll know on Saturday, when I feed them to 25 people!
Chivda, besan burfi, pedha done. Karanjis tonite. Pl. wish me luck, and all the best to you too!!

K3 said...

Finally put up the lights yesterday, totally turned our house into something out of the movies! :) Cleaning - check, Food - nada. Hopefully tonight and tomorrow when I get to work from home! ;)

BTW, could you pass on the Chivda recipe? Pleeeessseee!

DotThoughts said...

Suj: We have soccer on Saturday too.. and that's what we are exactly hoping for - a nice dinner.

Vinita: Thanks soooooo much. I posted a picture.. I made them and they turned really nice.. next time I should try making them with fatfree sour cream.

M4: Happy Birthday to your lil boy.. hope he has a grand party :) And wishing you all the fortune in cards!

karmickids: lol.

AA_Mom: Anarse.. I just love, love them..

raysh: lol.. same here.. i hopw we have some faraal left over for the actual diwali:) You are coming over to my neck of the woods?? turn that "may" into a "will" :)

gnd: come over one day and I'll show you how too make them... then you you won't be at the mercy of the batty dottie :) bwaah bwaah. Have fun bursting firecrackers.. wish you all a very happy diwali:)

dipali: coming from you, I so touched and humbled :0

Ananva: Dude.. blame it on the weather. besan burfi? how do you make it? Wishing you every ounce of luck.. The faraal gods seem to be in a good mood today :)

K3: What difference a few lights make, na? Have a very happy diwali, K3.
Chivda recipe is super simple.. Sift thin poha -maybe like 4 cups.. heat 3-4 tbsp of oil in a pan.. add mustard seeds, curry leaves, chopped green chillies, hing, peanuts, roasted split gram, cashews, raisins (in that order).. Cool the vaghar, add salt and sugar to taste.. I also add some garlic powder, but that's optional.. mix in the poha. stir well and enjoy :)

Mama - Mia said...

everything except making actual faraal happened! i was hoping to atleast attempt shankarpali, but no such thing happened with crazy long hours at work and cleaning taking up the rest!

your stuff looks awesome! :)

have a great year ahead!



Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

Dudette, the goodies were AWESOME!! EVERY SINGLE THING...
No failed chaklis in my goodie bag :)

Psst... Its not about learning... I just don't make em for different reasons :)
If I wannie, I buy (or run to you :)
Mez dont have a lotta restraint, it aint a pretty sight, trust me ;)

PG said...

I know I'm a bit late but...
I have never made anything for Diwali until this year. I made ladoo, my very first- yum yum yum! Badam barfi - I used ground badam with skin- stupid me, but was edible. Pist burfi looked more like a paste - i added too much water so had to make sticky ladoos out of it, still yum yum!
do you think the oil wasn't hot enough for chakli? Though, i have never fried anything apart from pakodas, so, it's just a thought.
faraal is a new term I have learned today.