crisis, catharsis and chutney

I’ve started quite a few posts in the last few weeks, and not been able to complete any. I start writing, then something happens and I start dealing with that and lose the writing track I was already on.

Basically, I am undergoing a severe identity crisis. I am not living who I am. This is not my life, really. I don’t feel inspired by anything. It’s like I’m fighting to create inspiration, looking hard for the beauty in life, but not actually finding any. Actually, let me correct myself. Nothing is inspiring any real lasting happiness in me. I feel like everything I do, I’m attempting to manufacture some happiness – but all I’m manufacturing is a sham.

The monsoon has hit Delhi properly only this month, my plants are sprouting beautiful purple eggplants, I’ve cleaned up the balcony, reorganised my tiny garden. I’m reading and discovering tons about the movement for frugal living, and square foot gardening, about ordinary people all over the world trying to live more resource efficient and hence as ethical lives as possible in this nasty world. But still, I feel empty inside. In fact, now I feel worse than before. My dreams have taken on clearer shape, you see, in the last few months. The colours in which I see the life I want have grown more vivid, my belief in what my life is meant to be has only grown stringer. And with that, the pain of not having it – neither the present, nor the future – has grown sharper.

I want my own land – just a little, but real earth, where I can grow enough food to feed my family. But look at me – a cultivator without land, just a gardener with a few pots. I want children, a marriage, a loving intimate partner to share my everyday life with. Not just ‘life’, but everyday life. The real thing. In any case, life isn’t only the future, it’s NOW. But again, look at me – a mother without children, a wife without a marriage, a partner without any lasting commitment made to her, a lover without anyone to love (i.e. care for, see, talk to, just be with, everyday).

So I’ve just been cooking more and more. More variety, every meal something different, often something new. I’ve been reading even more about food – about people who’ve successfully left regular jobs to pursue their dreams of food careers in concrete fashion. And then I’ve cooked things I’ve read on their blogs (but with my own twists and additions). I’ve been cooking furiously when I’m scared of sinking any further in this depression, a bit blindly when I’m full of sorrow. In a daze when realisations grow sadder, in a hurry when i’m craving something in particular.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get back to writing about all the food there has been as a result of the above-mentioned cooking. Or the planting – my garden now has sem (flat bean) plants, bhindi (okra/ladyfingers), chillies, cucumber, sage and thyme, rajnigandha & nargis plants.

And I am ashamed of not having written. A conversation with a dear friend and watching the film Julie & Julia again have reminded me I need to keep at this. Not just for the sake of ‘discipline’, but for my own self. I realise I need to work a lot on my confidence and belief in my cooking and also writing about it – especially as it’s so easy to get demotivated in this which essentially depends on others’ liking/approval. Does it say something about me that this is my real consuming interest – cooking, that depends on others’ expressed liking? I don’t know. I have sooo many things to figure out.

So, I am taking off for a few days.

There have been  some very very good things that have happened only very recently – happiness for family and friends. I am thankful for these good things, and I am thankful for all the help I’ve received in coming through the last couple of months where I’ve been in this terrible internal conflict. But I still need this time, this ‘holiday’ to think, resolve at least some of  it.  I hope this trip will also help me get back to writing about food regularly. Especially since so many exciting things have been happening recently – like the broadcasting of the newest seasons of Top Chef (including Just Desserts), Masterchef Australia, and Nigella Lawson’s new series (Nigella Kitchen). I find her hilariously adorable and I admire her discipline in sharing her kitchen-craziness with others. I talk to myself, too, while cooking.

So I celebrate my return to the writing habit and my week-long trip with this neither-here-nor-there post and a recipe for karamcha (karounda) chutney. I tweaked my Mum’s recipe, and it was a treat to cook & eat these delightfully coloured little fruit (karamcha is a fruit in the Bengali kitchen as far as I know), in a sweet-sour chutney that lighted up my meal of dal-rice-and-bhindi-fry on a rainy day.

2 large handfuls of karamcha/karounda, were slit lengthwise (while watching TV, of course), and the hard seed-shell inside taken out & discarded. Some oil was heated in a small kadhai, and tempered with mustard (small, 1 tsp.) and a red chilli (fresh, deseeded & chopped fine – you could use red chilly flakes/dried red chilly instead). The karamcha & a teaspoon each of salt & sugar were added to the pan, which was then covered and left to cook on low heat till the fruit softened. More sugar (1/2-1 tsp., to taste) and half a cup of water were added, and the whole lot cooked uncovered till boiling. I kept stirring & mashing the chutney in the pan till it reached the consistency I wanted. Then it was done, so I took it off the heat and ate it after it cooled a bit. Next time I may add a few methi seeds to the tempering, too. 

Not sure when I’ll get to post next but I will try to keep notes about what I ate and what I cooked. Holiday-yayy!

2 Responses to “crisis, catharsis and chutney”
  1. cynicalcount says: it possible to cook for one person each meal ? I have found it impossible and since I have an issue with eating leftovers, I have to give it to sundry people or throw away.

    • tarangasr says:


      Sure it’s possible. Like when i cook a handful of rice with a brinjal from my garden and a tomato and small onion and some herbs, and eat it from a bowl on my ownsome in front of the TV 🙂
      But usually I cook for more people, my household as it were. Plus, one can always take leftovers from the night’s meal to work for i cook dinner fresh so it’s never a problem for me.
      I’ve been thinking of writing down some of my dinner-for-one recipes and posting…next week perhaps.
      Thanks for reading.

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