December evenings were ripe with anticipation in that house at the end of the sleepy little lane. Two little girls waited with bated breath for a certain white ambassador to roll down the sloping road and come to a halt in front of their gate.
I was one of those little girls, the years were the eighties and the place was Jamshedpur.
Nothing much happened in Jamshedpur in those days and I think it was the absence of events that engendered the happiness in the little things that did.
I remember tripping in my favourite ghagra several times as I ran to the gate when the white ambassador came to a halt in front of our gate and a beaming man stepped out to open the trunk. We gasped every year as he carefully lifted out two burgeoning flower pots of multi coloured Chrysanthemums grown by one of the most talented ladies in the city.
The pots were the pride of the garden for the rest of the winter. We lured friends into our garden and proudly showed off these priceless gifts from Ramalingam Aunty.
In my gardening stints in Jorhat I tried hard to recreate that mental picture that is still so vivid in my mind. I think it is superfluous to mention that of course I failed.
I am hoping for a Ramalingam Aunty for my daughter so that she can love Chrysanthemums the way I do.
Today’s recipe is Cheese croquets – needless to say a shortcut. I think I chose the recipe because of the Cs it has in common with Chrysanthemums.
1. Boil two potatoes and grate them. The easiest way is to seal them in a plastic bag and microwave for 5 minutes and then give them a standing time of 10 minutes before you take them out. The potatoes can be mashed instead of grating them but frankly I find mashing more tedious.
2. Grate some cheese. The amount of cheese can be varied according to taste. We are a cheese loving family and so I like to mix in as much cheese as potato.
3. Mix the potato and cheese together. Add salt if you like but usually the cheese makes it salty enough.
4. Shape the mixture into little cutlets with your hands
5. Now break an egg into a quarter plate.
6. Spread bread crumbs onto another quarter plate
7. Heat oil for shallow frying in a frying pan
8. Dip the cutlets in the egg and coat them well
9. Roll the egg coated cutlets in the breadcrumbs so that all the surfaces are coated
10. Fry in hot oil.
The trick with frying cutlets in the frying pan without having burnt crumbs all over the frying pan and none on the cutlet is – to keep the oil hot enough through the frying. When you put the cutlet in, it cools the oil considerably so you have to quickly whack up the flame.
Also keep the cutlets small – it will be much easier to fry them.
Of course frying is an indulgence. On diet obsessed days – grill each side for 5 minutes in a grill pre -heated to 200°C for 10 minutes