Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Care Packages

Rava Ladoo

If you have ever lived outside your home, then you must have received atleast one care package, or atleast yearned for one. Home, in this context, could be just across town, in another city, or in a different country.

It seems just like yesterday, when a girl was yearning for something from her home barely two months after she had been away, far away. Something more tactile than the letters and phone calls. So she asked for a packet of bakarwadis, and a comb, and another small thing or two, to be sent via someone she knew who was travelling from India. The comb was something her mind had prototyped based on what she had used in India, but could not find one like it anywhere within her limited mobility and resources. And the bakarwadis, were just so out of question of being available anywhere around her, but one of her favorite things. So she waited for the things to arrive with great anxiety, and it was a happy day when they did. Just in case you were wondering whether she went around with uncombed hair until then, she did have other combs and brushes, but not the type she wanted.

She was to find out soon enough that the person who brought these for her had made some nakhras (in this context nakhra means fuss, but nakhra conveys it much better) about their bags being too full, and agreed to take only some of the things. When she found that out, she was disappointed, and even a little angry, and from then onwards decided to make the postal system her friend. Food items weren't suitable for getting by mail, but she made peace with that. Regardless, it was a long time before she ever asked anyone to get anything for her when they were travelling back, and even when she did, it was only if a certain thing was really important and unavailable, and only to people she knew well enough to know that they would not mind. Eventually, there were regular trips back home, with long lists of what was needed to be brought back, and there was no need to rely on anyone else.

I have realized that a lot of people are somewhat touchy about carrying things for people, and I understood it better after I had to turn down a package or two myself. Those were times when I was really going over the allowed baggage limit, and I felt bad about it, but I had no choice. Years later when I think about it, I concede that perhaps that person too really had no space in their luggage, or that there were closer relatives and friends that had to be obliged, and so perhaps it was not really a nakhara on their part.

One thing I know is that no matter how many years pass by, it is still as exciting and delightful to open a box that has come from home. Like it did recently, bearing lots of wonderful things, thanks to a close relative who happily brought them on her trip back from India, and promptly mailed it to me. In the box lined with styrofoam peanuts, lay several goodies, each wrapped neatly in white paper, telling me how much care was put into it, and for that, I really thank her.

care package

A peek into some of the things that were in the box, each of these exquisitely delicious.

Top: left - bAkarwaDi, right - phaNas sATh
Bottom: left - chocolate burfi, right - pedhA

The phaNas sATh is made out of jackfruit from the ancestral backyard. I might have seen it being made eons ago, but do not remember exactly - the flesh of the jackfruit is pureed and cooked down, then dried out into flat sheets and cut. I am not exaggerating when I say that it tasted just like the jackfruit I have eaten from that tree in the past.

The sATh and the burfi were made at home by my mother, and the other things were bought from appropriate sources.


Manisha said...

You changed the name of your blog so I was left staring at 'Everyday Food' in my feeds and wondering what I had subscribed to!

When I started reading your post, I wondered if the nakhrebaaz was my own dear husband. He's a total pain. He refuses to carry stuff from here to there and from there to here. Sab jagae sabh kuchh milta hai aur agar nahin mila toh, then learn to live without it. Sigh.

Your goodies look really scrumptious! Have you tried the packaged bakrwadis from Chitale Bandhu that are available in the Indian stores here? I bought them rather doubtfully, wondering if they might be worth it. They weren't bad at all! And warmed up in the microwave just a tad or in the oven, they are great with tea. They won't be as good as the fresh stuff but who am I to complain? I rarely get a 'care package'. If anyone sends me one, it's my aunt who just goes deaf to all my husband complaints. And since he goes around Sankranti, I get the best tilache ladu ever!

Enjoy your goodies and all the memories!

Monisha said...

This is my first time here and I'll surely be back for more. I can imagine the anxiety and excitement of receiving a care package, especially one that's brimming with all these goodies. Enjoy!

evolvingtastes said...

Manisha, I didn't realize that by changing the title, I had actually changed the name that other people see in their feeds (got to learn so much more about blogger!). Thanks for letting me know, I have changed it right back. I doubt it was your husband who did the nakhras, cause I do know where this person lives.

I have tried the Chitale bakarwadis here, if I manage to catch them at the right time. Around here, they fly off the shelves as soon as they are in. And I am talking about a zamana when they were not even available in Bombay - only Pune! Way before they were available in the platic boxes. So getting them anywhere else was simply out of question. Things have changed a great deal now, and really, 'sab jagah sabh kuch milta hai'. Well, almost.

evolvingtastes said...

Monisha, thanks, and welcome! What a gorgeous blog you have; I have to visit it soon with a cup of tea in hand and look at it leisurely. Thanks to the comments people leave here, I have been finding about so many lovely blogs.

TheCooker said...

That is a wonderful care package. Lucky you!

Richa said...

love those rava ladu & pedha, btw what kind of pedha is it? i like the kandi pedha. Though we get chitale bakarwadi & laxminarayan chivda, i feel as if something is missing in there, have to make do though. I'm hesitant to ask anyone, but if I do I like to get the shrewsberry biscuit from kayani/pune.
enjoy the yummy goodies...
btw did you get a chance to try the double beans?

Manisha said...

Of course it wasn't my husband but you described him very well. :-D

So you're back to ET!

Have you tried making them? The bakrwadis, that is? It's deep fried love! I've only always just looked at the recipe but never made them at home. I am sure there is a baked version somewhere...

evolvingtastes said...

Thecooker, thanks! I do feel quite lucky.

Richa, the pedhas were made by a lady that my mother knows - from scratch, by evaporating milk. I think they do not have anything other than milk, sugar and a touch of cardamom. They are awesome to say the least. Yaay about the LaxmiNarayan chiwda too, but it is a bit of a make-do.

About the double beans I have taken the first step by buying them. Will let you know as soon as I try it out.

evolvingtastes said...

Manisha, I have tried making bakarwadis, once. They weren't bad, may be I should try again and blog about it. Baked shmaked - don't even bother. It is indeed deep fried love.

Desiknitter said...

Yum! Yummmmmm! bakarwadis, pedhas... I haven't had much phanas sATh actually, but I will try to find some this summer.
You guys are right about deep fried love.

evolvingtastes said...

desiknitter, who knows, the phaNas sATh might be an acquired taste. It depends on whether you like jackfruit, and also depends on the quality of the fruit used, since there are not many (any?) other ingredients in it. I have eaten some terrible mango sAThs from stores, and some amazing ones made by people who have excess mangoes in their backyards.

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