Things have a way of working out. When I was about seven, the ‘thing’ that needed working out was a way to scavenge together five rupees, for that was the price of the fat, square little books at the jack-of-all shop behind my school. These were abridged versions of English classics – The Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations – and they were usually the most pressing thing on my mind. This was before the Days of Pocket Money, and times were hard for seven-year-olds. Every time I finished reading one of these books, it would feel like my last. There was not a five-rupee in sight, and no possibility of a windfall. I would give up all hope, and wait for my little classics collection to asphyxiate and die. But, just as the last book prepared to take its last breath, something unexpected would happen. Either one of my Pishis (aunts) would come by for a visit, and before leaving in the evening, would tuck a five-rupee note into the palm of my hand. Or the raddiwala would come knocking, and ask to buy my old school books; for a fiver no less. And Ting! just like that, I’d have enough for the Edgar Allan Poe I’d wanted.

After my last post, after all your lovely, thoughtful messages, and after Chotto-Ma had resigned herself to nannies and childminders, something unexpected happened. Ma and Baba decided to travel to us; they arrive next month, and are going to spend the summer here till Chotto-Ma starts full-time school. Which means I now have a very happy little girl who gets to have a summer squished between grandparents, instead of at a childminder’s.

Things have a way of working out; as proved to me, years ago, by the curious ways of crispy five-rupee notes.

A few other crispy things also work out just right:

Crisp white wine under springtime sunshine.

Crisp new linen on the bed. Ma gave me these lovely bedcovers and cushions when we went to Kolkata this year. I’m loving the Indian prints; feels like home.

Crisp white paper for Chotto-ma’s drawings. Here’s a slice of Ramayan – Sita picking flowers, Ram hunting, peacock pecking, sun shining.

Crisp May mornings.

And crisp, fried okra from Bulbulma’s kitchen. Okra is one of D’s favourite vegetables, and he’s grown up with this version. I had it for the first time in his house after we started dating, and now he cooks it for me whenever we get fresh okra at the market.

D’s Crispy Okra


500g okra
4 tbs wholewheat brown flour (atta)
Sunflower oil
1/2 tsp red chilli powder

Cut the okra into small circular pieces.
In a bowl, mix the flour with 1 tbs of oil, salt and chilli powder. Mix in with your fingers.
Add the chopped okra and mix well.
Then add a little water at a time till is forms a sticky mix. It should be quite tight and stick to your fingers.
Heat oil in a pan for deep frying. Drop in globs of the mixture, bit at a time, into the hot oil and fry till crispy. It should only take a few minutes.
Drain on kitchen paper, and serve.

24 thoughts on “Crisp

  1. I always enjoy reading your posts, both for your writing and the pics. I just had to comment on this one because it is so true and it made me think back to the many times in my own life when I almost gave up hope but things worked out, and i am experiencing a major such moment now! Am so happy that things are working out for chotta-ma too! Enjoy the holidays and keep blogging πŸ™‚

  2. i am the first one to comment..or no ? …jaai hok…let me reiterate how much i am in love with the reminds me of Pune Monsoon mornings, white light, clean washed air, hint of green , and of course your stories..

    Bhindi being a controversail shobji in the Mukherjee house, shall be tried with this nversion too..will come back on the verdict πŸ™‚

  3. next time you make this….ektu posto chitiye dish….besh kur kure lagbe…. πŸ˜‰ Paro

  4. thanks, karishma. it makes all the difference to blogging when you know there are people who've felt something, thought something, after reading what you've written.
    i'm so happy that you've just had a things-work-out moment – isn't that always such a relief? πŸ™‚

  5. we've tried that as well, paro. khub bhalo hoy. husk-filled atta gives it a very different taste though, and a very kur-kure texture as well πŸ™‚

  6. i couldn't have asked for nicer words to describe this space, sulagna! hugs for that πŸ™‚

    and i'll wait for your okra-verdict then – you must let me know which way the controversy ended! πŸ™‚

  7. Aw, thanks Emma! πŸ™‚
    And okra is a favourite? Now D has company! We don't meet too many people who're a fan of okra πŸ™‚

  8. Today I needed something reassuring to hang on to and “Things have a way of working out; ” will have to do. My mother says that often but not my jittery self. Today though I will close my eyes and just believe it

  9. Your mother is right, sandeepa. And so is my father, who always says the same.
    Things do have a way of working out. Keep faith πŸ™‚

  10. That bed sheet, truly took me back home. This time, I didn't any bed sheets from Kolkata (sad) And talking of things have their way to work out, I believe, if things has to happen it will and there are always, ALWAYS, some good reasons behind why or how things happend. We sometime realize it soon and sometime much later in life. Uuff ami dichi gyan! That okra, yum yum yum, turning slimy into crispy is YUM!

  11. I have a feeling that all Bengali parents bring their children up on this adage – shob thik hoye jaabe. Aar hoye-o jaaye. Tai gyan ta bhaloi πŸ™‚

  12. ~I have been meaning to get a bedsheet like this for ages.. every-time I go to India, I forget to put one in my list and then when I realise, its either too late for shopping or I don't get it anywhere..

    recipe looks yum,, just the perfect one with Chapathis on weekeneds πŸ™‚

  13. Good morning Pia, I too love reading your blog. For a few weeks now I've glimpsed that you have added to your blog. I don't want to read it when I have life traveling past me at 100mph I wanted to read it in peace. This morning I have had that chance whilst the family are still zzzZ away… Thank you again for sharing. I to believe 'things' happen just at the right divine space and time. So glad your little one will be able to spend the summer with her close ones. Jo x

  14. It's normally reserved for our weekends too, Nupur. With dal-bhaath, rather than roti. Thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  15. Jo, thank you for making time for what I write. I know you lead such a busy, busy life. It means a lot to me πŸ™‚ Much love x

  16. This is what I call crispy write-up πŸ™‚ I never miss your post and never read it when I am too busy. I want to read and relish every word when both my time and mind are free of other things.
    How lovely that your parents will be here to pamper Chotu Ma and you both. Oh you lucky girl! You know what? I am feeling quite jealous today as it's been almost 1 and half yrs since I met my folks.
    Every time I come here and forget to say something about the recipe. Not this time πŸ™‚ Never had crisp okra made with wheat flour. D's recipe sounds so wonderfully easy and delicious. I will make a batch when I find some nice, fresh okras.

  17. Sia, it just came together perfectly. Now, I can't wait to have a full house next month!
    And you know, I love reading your messages here; it feels like we've just had a chat πŸ™‚
    Let me know if you like the okra when you cook it!

  18. Yummy – okra is one of my favourite things, ever! A reassuring taste of my childhood. Lovely words, and so glad your daughter is also reassured and happy. All is calm, all is bright. Have a wonderful weekend!

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