My memories often take me back to the times when as a child all one wondered was about holidays and when they would begin, what games to invent to keep oneself busy, what food was going to be served and where the chocolates were kept hidden.
Our huge garden was an inspiration to have picnics, play hide and seek and hopscotch, which now seems to have vanished. We had a multitude of helpers and cooks, all living in the barracks type of accommodation provided to them. I had six siblings, now five, of which two were too old to be part of our gang. My sister Uma was the leader and the rest of us, Kartik, Murali, my cousin Visu and I, followed her blindly. From swinging on our huge windows as Robin Hood and his merry men, to converting huge British-style bathrooms into soapy adventurous skating rinks, we tried everything. Spanking was commonly received as we attempted too many ‘don’ts’.
One of the most adventurous things we had done was my 11-year-old sister and I running off to attend a friend’s birthday party in Vile Parle. Those days, we had to take a bus till the local station and then the train. So, early in the morning after breakfast, without our parents or brothers knowing, we had managed to relieve our father’s pockets of whatever change he kept and made our way to experience the fascinating adventure. Travelling alone on the bus and train, buying our tickets, drinking cold sugar cane juice and standing at the door of moving trains — all of this was very exciting for us. We got down at Vile Parle, vaguely remembering where our friend’s house was. After a long walk, many wrong turns and an hour of effort, we reached her residence tired and exhausted. Her mother was shocked that we had come alone, but had welcomed us so warmly that the tears which we were about to shed dried out instantly. My sister’s friend Jyoti was ecstatic.
Lunch was just about to be served and we were ravenous. A copper thali with delectable dishes like sabudana vada, an array of chutneys, salads like koshimbir, vegetable preparations including patal bhaji (leafy greens), suk bhaji (dry stir fry), usal (sprouts) were served. Cooked white rice was moulded in a small mound called bhatachi mood, with a dal (amti) served with a dollop of ghee. The thali that came with varan bhaat (dal), two types of chutneys, shrikhand (strained yogurt dessert), also included the winning dish, ratalyacha gharya (sweet potato paranthas). Ratalyacha gharya is a traditional recipe of the Maharashtrian food legacy. It is like stuffed sweet potato parantha, but are nothing but paranthas made out of sweet potatoes. The dish is also extremely easy to prepare. The highlight of the dish, however, is that it is served spicy mirchi cha thecha (green chilli chutney).
After eating this wonderful meal, we were dropped at the local station and we rushed back the way we came. When we had reached home, it was siesta time and the whole bungalow was in slumber and nobody seemed to have missed us. So, we joined them in bliss after the great meal we had eaten. Till date, the delicious adventure remains unknown.
- Prep time: 15 min
- Cooking time: 20 min
- Calories per serve: 390 per roti
- Take boiled sweet potatoes and peel them
- Add grated jaggery to the boiled sweet potatoes.
- Powder the dry ginger and fennel seeds and add to the mixture.
- Add in cinnamon and cardamom powder to the boiled mixture.
- Now add in wheat flour, a pinch of salt and start making a dough out of all the ingredients.
- Do not use water, as the moisture in the boiled sweet potatoes is enough to bind the flour and the ingredients together.
- Rest the dough for five minutes.
- Once rested, make small rounds of the dough and spread them like chapatis.
- Cook the chapatis on medium flame on a tawa. Add ghee on each side and flip to cook well on both sides.
- Ratalyacha gharya is ready to be served.
- Sweet potatoes: 4
- Jaggery: 50 gm
- Dry ginger powder: 1 tsp
- Fennel seeds: 1 tsp
- Wheat flour: 1 cup
- Homemade ghee: ½ cup or as required
- Cardamom powder: 1 tsp
- Cinnamon powder: ½ tsp
- Salt: to taste
- Always keep the sweet potato dough mixture covered with a wet muslin cloth after kneading to avoid drying out
- The best ghee can be prepared when you buy fresh unsalted butter and melt it to make ghee