Wave after wave lashes the shore.
With a monotonous predictability that only Nature can guarantee.
Gazing vacantly at the infinite.
The humbling expanse of the Bay of Bengal.
My feet sink into the sand as a giant wave sweeps ashore.
I momentarily lose balance.
A pair of cacophonous seagulls circle above.
Fighting over fish, perhaps, I chuckle. Primitive instincts.
The wave retreats.
Leaving cryptic patterns on the wet sand.
As another wave crashes against the ancient boulders.
Erasing the old patterns and drawing new ones.
The sun has long set.
Twilight has painted a canvas of a myriad reds and purples.
Lubdhok (Sirius) dazzles, a pinprick of a diamond, many many light years away.
Darkness comes. On hushed tiptoes.
Venus is visible now in all her pristine glory.
The enthusiastic coastguards blow their whistles, the harsh shrillness punctuating the serene stillness that has descended, enthusiastically waving at the few of us still on the beach, goading us to start leaving.
A pair of sand crabs chase each other silly.
I start walking.
Following a pair of footsteps etched on the drenched sand.
Whose footsteps are these ? I wonder. Where do they lead to ? And why do I follow ?
I don’t know. I hear myself whisper.
But I do follow. I submit. And keep following.
Like an iron nail yielding to the colossal force of an invisible magnet.
I have never quite been able to comprehend why Puri has held such a fascinating place in my heart.
And on this auspicious occasion of RathaYatra, as the Lord leaves his abode for an annual retreat to his aunt’s place and millions throng to get just a fleeting glimpse of Him and touch the sacred rope of his vehicle, I offer Him Rasabali, one of His favourite desserts.
Rasabali. Chhana caressed with oodles of love, fried in ghee over a lazy languorous flame and soaked in reduced milk.
Decadence indeed, but if not today when ?
- 200 g homemade chhana or cottage cheese
- 2 tbsp suji or semolina
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1.5 lit milk
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tsp ghee
- 1/2 tbsp sugar powder
- few strands of saffron
- sugar to taste
- oil for frying
- Take the chhana in a bowl, crumble using your fingers.
- Add the flour, semolina, sugar powder, 1 tsp ghee and ¼ tsp cardamom powder to the crumbled chhana.
- Knead well till the dough comes out of the bowl smooth and your palm looks oily. About 8-10 odd minutes of exercise I would reckon 🙂 :).
- Now tear 15-16 medium balls from the dough.
- Grease your palm with a little ghee and shape the dough balls into roundels. Flatten them a bit, keep aside.
- Heat oil and ghee in a deep pan, fry the rasabalis over a medium flame (this is the golden rule - the oil should be neither too hot nor too cold) till they are a gorgeous golden brown.
- Take off the heat, drain on an absorbent towel. Keep aside.
- Heat the milk in a separate pan, allow to reduce till it’s about a third of the original volume. Add sugar to taste and a few saffron strands.
- Switch off the flame.
- Gently add the fried rasabalis to the reduced milk. Allow to soak, 4-5 hrs I would reckon.
- Serve cold.