This morning began with a friend from Delhi posting pictures of Thalipeeth, a Marathi traditional dish she made for breakfast. I had sent her some sample flour or bhajani as we call it. Bhajani means a mix of various roasted grains and lentils, which are then made into flour. (bhajane ~ marathi for roasting).
This friend has cultivated an amazing garden, where she grows all kinds of vegetables and greens, and the last hour has been spent discussing on twitter about various yum thalipeeths that can be made from stuff in her garden. Some other nostalgic folks also joined in the "thalipitwitter".....
Thalipeeth bhajanis were always there in every house, and Chakli Bhajanis , again a roasted specific mixture mostly made around Divali, have had a pride of place in Marathi households.
Way back in the days when mixers and blenders were not mandatory, folks knew how to grind stuff on the chutney stone (pataa warwantaa) , at some point in my childhood my Mom did a revolutionary purchase. She bought a big flour grinder (it stood up to her waist, and had a 2 feet by 2 feet cross section). A friend from Ahmedabad had one, her theplas were out of this world, and my Mom bought this thing and had it delivered in Pune. Inside was an actual horizontal circular stone grinding contraption like those used in rural areas; except it had some smart levers you used to raise and lower the gap between stones, for your requirements of rawa, fine flour etc etc, and someone in her 60's could handle it very easily. My Mom developed expertise in opening the machine and tightening and changing the fan belt, not to mention fine-tuning the gap between the two circular chutney stones.
Wheat flour chapaties and jowar bhakris were daily fare, and they simply tasted different made from freshly ground grains, without excessive heat as a by product.
Thalipeeth bhajani and Chakli Bhajani , the roasted mixtures , were made on occasions, and many friends of my Mom would partake of the excellent ground flour.
The only downside was when Pune started having power shutdowns. Making Bhajanis and fresh jowar flour an hour before meals, became a bit difficult, as you never knew when the power would go off.
However, sometimes, when someone wished something really hard, and the someone happened to be my Mom, the Universe often made it happen.
She was travelling out of Pune to visit me, and since folks in my house loved chaklis, she decided that fresh chaklis were the order of the day. Our longtime (40 years) household help was there to help. All of a sudden , in the middle of the penultimate batch of roasted grains, the power went off. For a minute, there was silence, and upset faces.
Never one to give up, my Mom went to the terrace to find out if someone was doing repairs or this power outage was random. The next thing was that out household help, was sent out to contact some guy on an electric pole nearby, with a request to just connect things for 10 minutes, so she could finish her grinding. The repair chap had probably never heard someone asking him such things while balancing precariously on the electric pole.
But our household help must have explained the need, and the repair man probably had a married daughter in another town, and he understood.
The power was reconnected for 10 minutes. My Mom finished the grinding, and our household help, waved to the guy on the pole, to let him know. Whereupon, the fellow disconnected the power again ....
The Chakli bhajani was ready, the fresh chakalis were promptly made, cooled, packed in some airtight dabbas with paper between the lid and the dabba, and duly lugged in a train that same evening, along with assorted sweet stuff and home grown jamuns nestled in a basket amidst jamun leaves.
The guy on the electric pole came by to share a cup of tea and chakli with our household help after his work was done.
Long long time ago, at Diwali, there were no ready made things in shops, no malls, no buy-one-get-one-free, and no sales.
Long long time ago, Divali in Maharashtra , among other things like lamps, poojas, new clothes, crackers, dawn baths, fragrant oil massages, was about enjoying yummy home made Faraal items, like Chakli, Chiwdaa, Kadboli, Anarse, Ladoos, and Karanjis.
For me, it was always Divali when my Mom visited us like this. Any time of the year.
The Chaklis had a fresh Divali embedded in them.