H for Howrah Station and Hope
When Saradha had boarded the train from Pune with little Kannan in tow she had wondered how the lives of the women in the family had turned into shambles. A couple of years ago her younger sister Jaya had died due to complications of her pregnancy and her husband had abandoned her based on the evil manipulations of her mother-in-law. Jaya had been the youngest child among the four siblings who had grown into adulthood. With her passing away, Saradha had been deeply affected. Now with her own married life in shambles she was worried. Thankfully, Chitra her first-born had been admitted to Kendriya Vidyalaya at Fort William. She was taking care of her mother and father who were living with Sundaram. Sundaram’s own marriage had been a failure and his wife and son were now in Kerala. It was as if someone had cursed the family. By God’s grace Raman and his wife were well and they had been blessed with a baby girl. They were living in an apartment closer to Raman’s office.
The Howrah Station is one of the largest railway stations in India and serves as the gateway to the east and northeast of India. Always buzzing with activity, passengers, porters, hawkers, several stray dogs, beggars, and crafty pick-pockets and thieves; they all seemed to be a part of a large breathing and living entity called the Howrah station. When Sundaram received Saradha and Kannan at the railway station; it was difficult for her to resist the urge to cry. Sundaram comforted her and they boarded the popular yellow Ambassador taxi to the home in Behala. On the way, Sundaram said to his sister, “Don’t worry, we will figure a way out, do not lose hope.” Saradha just nodded her head. Little Kannan was looking at the sights and sounds of the city. The long Howrah Bridge that seemed like a metal monster fascinated him. Sundaram pointed at some of the prominent landmarks and little Kannan was fascinated with this city. Little would he know that he would spend his formative childhood years here.
H for Horse Gram Rasam
Horse gram or kollu is a legume that is rich in protein and iron. It is used as an active ingredient in many Ayurvedic preparations. It functions as a diuretic and aids in weight loss. Today, we will look at a traditional rasam made out of kollu that has a powerful flavour and tastes really well with steamed white rice.
About 150 to 200 grams of Horse Gram or Kollu.
5 to 7 Garlic cloves.
Half a spoon of whole pepper corns
6 dried red chillies.
A spoon of cumin seeds / jeeragam
500 to 750 ml of water.
Couple of ripe tomatoes.
A small round ball of seedless tamarind.
Fresh coriander and curry leaves.
Salt to taste.
A spoon of ghee
Hing – asafotedia.
Soak the kollu for a couple of hours in water after you clean it properly.
Once this is done take the kollu out and dry it on a cloth to remove the moisture.
Now dry roast kollu, jeeragam, garlic, peppercorns, and red chillies.
Grind the ingredients to a fine paste and keep aside.
Please soak the tamarind ball in water and allow the water absorb its sourness and flavour.
Dice the tomatoes and cook them with the pre-ground paste in a spoon of ghee.
In a deep-bottomed pan, boil the water. Now add the boiled water to the mixture of the tomatoes and the paste. Let it cook for some more time so that the water absorbs the ingredients, remember to add the tamarind water as well. Add salt as per taste and top-off with fresh coriander and curry leaves.
The aroma of the kollu and other spices will create a magical atmosphere in the kitchen when it merges with the ghee that you have added. Before switching off the flame add a but of hing and stir once so that the hing dissolves completely.
Try it out and let me know. Variations of the rasam exist; with people choosing to add freshly grated coconut and jaggery to make it slightly sweet. Rasam is a fascinating dish that works as a palate cleanser as well as an appetizer. Drink it with roasted paapad on the side. Or mix it with hot steamed rice, a dollop of ghee, and a vegetable curry of your choice.