The Gondhoraj Lebu plant in the quiet corner of my garden, under the protective canopy of the bougainvillea, now a frenzied riot of pretty pink, is abloom.
I pluck a leaf off my cherished plant. Carelessly shred the leaf. Rub it vigorously against my palm. Slowly raise my palm to my nose. Close my eyes. And take a deep breath.
And as my olfactory senses break into sublime ecstasy and the intoxicating perfume from the bruised citrus leaf leaves me in an indescribable bliss, suddenly all my troubles, (I was indeed glum all morning) as melodramatic as it might sound, I can already see that frown of cynicism on your face, seem to go away.
We all have our biases and preferences in the kitchen.
For Grandma, for example, greens were her undisputed favorites. She adored her greens.
Maa relishes cooking with small fish – puti, mourola, kajli, charapona, bata, the list goes on.
I have often mused on my weaknesses, let me reserve that for a later post, but that I am obsessed with lebu pata (or lime leaves) is undeniable. I do not squander a single opportunity to add lebu pata to my dish, especially during tormenting summers.
What do I do with lebu pata this morning ? I wonder.
Of course lebu patay katla with the gorgeous katla S has got back from the market is an option.
I do love it, S tells me, with that look though that translates to, but you just made that last week. Can we not have something else ?
Lebu lonka murgi ? I enquire.
But the man is in no mood for the bird this morning.
Ok let me whip up something novel, I assure.
What ? He asks.
No clue, I respond with a cheeky smile.
The grey cells get into an overdrive, the refrigerator is raided, prawns are de-shelled and de-veined, fresh peppercorn, loads of it, is ground, shallots are peeled (Is it just me who detests peeling shallots ?), curd is whipped (I remember, just in time, Maa’s tip to add a pinch of flour to prevent the curd from splitting), a gondhoraj lebu is carefully zested and the shredded leaves are washed and pat dry.
And thus is born my Lebu Patay Chingri Stew.
The smile at lunch says it all.
Bliss, remarks S. That Lebu Patay Chingri Stew deserves to be in your blog.
I blush with creator’s pride.
Lebu Patay Chingri Stew. The sweetness of prawns. The burst of citrus from the gondhoraj lebu zest. The earthy warmth of black pepper.
That alluring perfume of lime leaves. Food heaven !!!