Sunday, August 11, 2013

Losing my Father...

"I was my Daddy's girl,
I know he loved me the best
The time we had... 
Wasn't nearly enough
And yet we did -
pack in an entire
Lifetime of love...and memories.
No regrets or grief...
Only love for the man you are,
And the man you will remain in my heart."

                                              circa Nov 12th, 2012
It was almost the end of November. Her heart was heavy...she had spent 30 blissful days with Bapa and the time to go back  to the US was fast arriving - on this particular walk he told her - Ma, I think I have only 3-6 months left. She changed the topic...that her indestructible father was but a mortal was not something she wanted to face yet...though the reality of it loomed ominously over her head. Suddenly as if to lighten the atmosphere heavy with unshed tears, flew a bright green parrot squawking noisily at the father-daughter duo. Their conversation moved on to lighter things...Oriya fathers and daughters love talking about food (or at least this father and daughter duo did) and she asked him - Bapa...what do you really want to eat? He said - Kaleji Kosha. She knew that he had said that partly because she was avoiding eating meat due to his health issues and loved Kaleji (mutton liver). So when she went home, she asked her Ma to make some Kaleji Kosha. Oriya Mothers are famous for cooking and feeding their families till their stomachs are filled to the point of bursting.  Ma got out her degchi and sent Shankar (the gardener) to get the freshest Kaleji available in the market...both father and daughter enjoyed the Kaleji Kosha that day like there was no tomorrow... he was right...four months later he was no has been 9 months since then and all I remember is the love, the laughter and the hope...the hope that miracles do happen and we will get more time......but the reality is  there were no tomorrows, happy endings or miracles in this story...just gratitude for the time that we got to spend together and love for the man that Bapa was.

For Kaleji Kasha you need :
  • 500 gms - Mutton Kaleji (wash in warm water cut into small pieces and keep aside) 
  • 2 large Red Onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 large Vine grown tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • the ubiquitous Tej Potro (Bay Leaves)
  • My Ma doesn't use whole masala because we just don't like the taste of the whole cardamom or clove in the curry (so we lightly microwave 2-3 cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and grind the same - use about 1/2 tsp of this is potent and can overwhelm)
  • the usual suspects - turmeric, chilli and cumin/coriander powder
How my Ma makes it?

In a large degchi (this is the cast iron kind)...heat up 2 tbsp of mustard oil (if this was my kitchen it would be 1 tsp of Olive Oil). To this add a pinch of sugar (it helps the Onions to caramelize). Add a pinch of hing (this is something my Ma and I do with our cooking, avoid if you don't like hing) and tej potro. Add the ginger garlic paste and Onions. Cook till Onions are caramelized, then add the tomatoes and the usual suspects (turmeric, chilli and cumin/coriander powders). Now cook till everything integrates and the smell in the kitchen is pure magic (takes about 15 minutes...but follow your eyes and nose). Now add in the Mutton Kaleji (liver) and cook for about 1/2 hr plus...add the 1/2 tsp of the ground masala mix and salt to taste. The secret here is patience, no adding water (keep it on low flame) and cook, taste, cook...follow that process till it tastes perfect (and looks like the picture above)

Enjoy with hot phulkas or rice (add some love and laughter on the side…makes for great memories)