Winter has taken a bow.
The migratory birds that had thronged the lake have long departed for cooler terrains.
It’s not even Chaitra, Grandma laments, as Bapi reads out the maximum temperature from the morning daily, I wonder how miserable Boisakh is going to be.
Bapi reminds Manikkaka to request a visit of the neighbourhood electrician, all the ceiling fans need to be greased before the days get even hotter.
A couple of sunstroke cases have been reported in the community hospital, I hear Maa alert Dada one morning, no more football in the afternoons when the sun is at its zenith.
Outside the house, the palash has set the backyard afire, the radhachura and krishnachura are a riot of colours and blossoms have started to adorn the ancient mango trees.
The impatient me cannot wait for the mangoes to arrive, checking on the trees every afternoon once back from school.
The plaintive cry of the cuckoo pining for his lover reverberates across.
The bees and butterflies are back too.
And it’s nesting season for the pigeons, Grandma frets over things disappearing mysteriously (Bapi jokes that a poltergeist has invaded our home) till Didi catches the thieving pigeon red-handed one afternoon as he drags yet another aluminium clothes hanger away.
And then chicken pox breaks out.
A girl in our class falls ill and by end of the week at least ten other students are out sick.
You had chicken pox as a child, Maa comforts me when I tell her, teary-eyed, yet another friend of mine has contracted the virus, once you have had it once, you typically develop immunity against it.
I continue to live in fear.
Believers congregate at the Shitola temple in the village, only her blessings can protect their loved ones, they are confident, from the scourge of chicken pox.
Meanwhile Didi pulverizes dried neem leaves to a powder, Grandma mixes this lovingly into that talcum powder we use.
And the kitchen starts whipping up shojne phool delicacies. Natures antidote against chicken pox, Grandma explains as I try her shojne phool posto. And is delicious too, isn’t it ?
I nod in agreement.
Shojne Phool Posto. Moringa flowers cooked with poppy seed paste. A throw of fiery green chillies. A generous drizzle of mustard oil. Divine.
Moringa flowers are still in season. Make sure you pamper your taste buds with my delicious Shojne Phool Posto before the season runs out.
Shojne Phool Posto (Moringa / Drumsticks Flowers with Poppy Seed Paste)
- 1.5 cup fresh shojne phool or moringa / drumstick flowers washed and drained
- 2 big potatoes cut into small cubes
- 3 tbsp posto or poppy seeds soaked in warm water and blended into a paste with 3-4 green chillies
- 2-3 green chilies
- 1/2 tsp panchforan
- 3 tbsp mustard oil
- salt to taste
- Heat 2 tbsp mustard oil in a pan, when smoking hot, add the panchforon. Allow the spices to splutter.
- Now add the potatoes, sprinkle a little salt, fry till the potatoes take on a gorgeous golden tinge.
- Add the shojne phool, stir fry for another 4-5 minutes or so.
- Throw in a couple of green chillies, stir in the the poppy seed paste.
- Cook over a moderate flame till the potatoes are tender. If it’s getting a bit too dry, splash a little water.
- Adjust seasonings, drizzle the remaining mustard oil. Serve hot with steamed rice.