I’ve inherited my fondness for winter delicacies from my parents. Though I try to follow their recipes but I can never match thE exacting deliciousness which still lingers in my taste buds. I recall the days when preparations for making Alsi (flax seed) pinnies (sweetmeat) used to be in full swing in our house. This was the only kitchen job in which my father would take full interest and help mother in the cumbersome process.
First he’d hunt for a shop with best quality Alsi (flax seed).This done; he’d sieve it and clean it thoroughly, while basking in the sun, sitting in the veranda. Then my mother’d roast it on a low flame and let it cool. Then dad took over the drudgery of crushing it in our traditional pestle and mortar (there were no electric grinders available in those days). The task was rather tough even for my ‘cucumber cool’ father. Alsi seeds are smooth and slippery. He’d put small quantity of Alsi in the mortar and with every hit of the pestle, seeds would spring out on the floor causing a lot of hardship for dear dad. It used to take hours and even then the result was no where equal to the grinding quality of modern day gadgets. At best it was coarse grinding.
On the day of the finale (a Sunday), I’d find both my parents busy as bees in the kitchen. Mother absorbed in roasting whole wheat flour in a large round bottomed iron pan ( special pots and pans were stored in the upper shelves of the kitchen for such purposes) and father measuring Shakar( brown sugar) or crushed gur,(Jaggery) desi ghee (clarified butter) and readying almonds, raisins, dry ginger powder, coarsely ground aniseed (saunf) etc. I’d leave them thus engrossed and go up to the roof to study. I wonder why they were so indulgent towards me that they’d not ask me to help.
I’d come down only when the salivating aroma wafting from the kitchen became irresistible. I’d find dad mixing the whole stuff sitting in a Piri (my grandmother’s gift to my mother) - a sort of low stool with woven seat- (the one which we can only find in the emporiums now). I’d join them and lend a helping hand in pressing the comfortably hot stuff into round pinnies.
We’d eat one each morning with a glass of milk. It was sufficiently satiating with plenty of nuts and other stuff. The delicacy was a reservoir of nutrition, fiber, and promoted heart health and immunity against coughs and colds.
Its taste could beat the best of modern day sweets. The physical sensation of gorgeous sweetness in the mouth, and the concentrated attention of enjoying every bite can only be experienced. Even now my mouth waters in the memory of that delicious stuff in which apart from the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, my parent’s enormous love was infused to create that heavenly wholesome goodness in the end product.
I sometimes reflect over the simple pleasures which we as kids enjoyed and are missing in the fast paced life today. There was an all encompassing bond and unpretentious camaraderie between my parents and me. They were my alter ego and I expected the world from them.