It is the most beautiful sounds, raindrops on the rooftops, making music. Looking out, I see drops of water on the window and a steady pouring of rain from the heavens above, like little jewels dropping on the dry, parched lawn, kissing it, gently caressing it. I smell wet earth, rich brown earth, most sweet fragrance! I step out, I feel the cool breeze and the tiny rain drops on my face, cleaning my soul. In Maine, we hiked in the rains in Acadia National Park. It had rained 4-5 days in a row and there were waterfalls all the way to the top of the hill. My shoes never dried in the whole trip!
Sometimes, during monsoons in India, my mom brought lunch to me at school/ college because the tiffinwala would not come to pick up the lunch boxes from home du eco severe flooding. At other times, I have been waist deep in floods, walking to or back from school . There was once a hurricane that hit Mumbai formerly Bombay, in 1989, which I remember clearly, we were all home and my brother asked if I wanted to go see the devastation, we stepped out and were nearly blown away by the winds!
When it rains hard, and roads are flooded, schools are closed, businesses closed, and families were barricaded in their homes, with all TVs showing the devastation. Someone then offers to make hot, deep fried bhajia a.k.a fritters with piping, hot chai: a rainy day snack and someone else offers to tell a story and everyone gathers around.
Nothing healthy about them, one would say. I agree. Eating healthy is not about food restriction, it is following the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the times. And if you had to have fried food, eat it in moderation, and rarely, not on a daily basis, these are worth the fat calories especially if made at home. Or you could just air fry them.
If you have been curious about the air fryer, it is a must buy, I got the Cuisinart Toaster oven Air fryer. One of my favorite purchases, to serve not burnt food, low fat fried food to my family and make some roasted corn, Indian street style or pattice a.k.a potato burgers or fries or kale chips.
If you want to know how to plant a rain garden, I plan to do it this winter, just got the potting soil and old car tires ready to plant, check this out.
On rainy days, I would sing this Gujarati poem to DD and when she turned 2, so would she: Aav re varsad, watching this video, played on a ukulele. It was a favorite rainy day thing to do. We ate methi kela pakodas a.k.a. fenugreek leaves ripe banana fritters [a Gujarati specialty], deep fried in ghee, and rice flour added to the garbanzo flour to decrease the amount of fat absorbed by the fried food by crisping it quickly. We eat fried foods once every two to three weeks with or without the rain, ;-).
. One rainy day, while on our nature walk, she asked to hear a story and said, it had to have no thieves or thunder, and needs to start with ‘once upon a time…’ so here goes…
Once upon a time, in Nihir’s and Nitali’s backyard, there were 2 sparrows…The kids observed that the sparrows always helped each other, played and learnt new things together.
On a cold, wet, winter day, when the trees were barren as also the farms, and rain was beating down mercilessly on all of Nature’s beautiful creations, Chaaklee said wistfully ” Chaaklo, It is so cold, I want to eat Khichdee today.”
“Khichdee! Chaaklee, that is impossible. Don’t you see how hard it is raining? Don’t you see how barren the farms are? Don’t you see how all the humans are locked up in their homes close to the fires lit in their hearths? Where do you hope to find the grains and how will we even light a fire, my friend?”
” Chaaklo, it is cold and eating warm Khichdee today, will feel like a slice of heaven to me.”
“I see you really want some khichdee today, it will make you feel better, huh? Ok, how about this? Let’s try to find the grains of rice and lentils. If we do, then we can figure out about the fire.”
And so Chaaklee and Chaaklo, set out looking for rice and lentil grains. They needed 10 grains of rice and 5 of lentils. Their first visit was Nihir and Nitali’s home, where, they looked around in the verandah and found 3 rice and 2 lentil grains.
They fly to the neighbor across the street but find none. A little disappointed, they go to the far neighbor’s home and find some more rice and lentil grains.
They are both tired and take a water and rest break in the Public garden. There they see Nitali and Nihir playing on the slides. Little do the sparrows know that both kids had followed them to see what they were up to.
Chaaklo checks with Chaaklee, “Are you ok? Shall we continue?” “Yes, please and thank you.”
They fly further from their usual perimeter, it was getting harder as the day to fly back with their grains. They persisted. Chaaklo found 5 more rice grains and Chaaklee 3 more rice and 3 more lentil grains.
Chaaklee asks “Can we make it with fewer grains? What is the worst that can happen?”
“I overheard Nihir’s mom say that the protein is best balanced by 2/3 rice to 1/3 lentil ratio so it may be best to preserve that ratio. Having said that, I think it will still taste just like Khichdee even with a fewer grains.” replied Chaaklo.
“Ok, let’s try to find the remaining grains.”
And so the search continues, they gather gather a few more grains of each. They have 14 rice grains and 5 lentil grains, when they decide to cook the khichdee. They add the water, turmeric and salt and try to light the fire.
The wet weather made it hard to light a fire. Both are disappointed. Tears start running down Chaaklee’s eyes.
Just at that moment, Chaaklo spots a small leftover fire in the firebowl. He quickly flies down with the grains, water and spices and makes khichdee for Chaaklee. And they both end the evening, supping on some delicious khichdee.