It poured like never before. Lightning serpents zigzagged across the charcoal-scarred sky. Peals of deafening thunder reverberated across.
I snuggle up close to Grandma on her ancient four-poster, riveted by the story, annoyed every time Maa or Bapi interrupts Grandma.
Didi fetches Grandma her evening tea. Assam leaves brewed in milk with generous spoonfuls of sugar. Bapi has, of late, started warning Grandma of her, what he calls, not-too-healthy a habit of an irresponsible overdose of sugar in tea. But sweet tea is Grandmas indulgence, she struggles to cut down her intake of sugar.
Grandma takes a sip. Contentment stark on her wrinkled face.
You’ve heard this story so many times, my princess, Grandma reasons.
But I want to hear it yet again, I entreat.
Grandma smiles, pulls me closer to herself and continues with the tale, only pausing to take yet another sip of tea.
And then comes that point of the story which exhilarates me the most.
The eighth child of Deboki and Vasudev is born.
Vasudev is unshackled from the chains that bind him.
The prison door is thrown ajar.
The sentries fall into deep slumber.
Vasudev leaves the prison cell into the tumultuous outdoors, the infant cherub nestled in a wicker basket.
He has just the cover of the night to leave his newborn son, born to redeem the universe from the tyranny of Kansa, under the protection of Nanda and Yashoda in distant Vrindavan.
The story progresses.
I listen, transfixed, entranced by the epic of Krishna’s birth.
Vasudev arrives on the banks of the raging Yamuna.
Nervous and distraught on how he shall cross the seething river with his newborn.
But, putting his fears to rest, the Yamuna parts to let Vasudev wade through.
Vasuki protects the infant from the onslaught of the torrential rains.
It’s honey-sweet nostalgia as memories of Grandma and her story-telling come fleeting while I make preparations for my Taler Bora this morning.
Taler Bora, without which, Grandma’s Nandotsav celebrations were never complete.
And a tradition I have religiously adhered to till date.
Taler Bora. The tempting allure of sugar palm. The earthy appeal of jaggery. The subtle sweetness of grated coconut. Fried to a gorgeous golden.
Do try your hand at frying a batch of these delicious Taler Bora before the sugar palm season runs out.
I can guarantee you shall not be disappointed.
Taler Bora (Sugar Palm Fritters)
- 1 ripe tal or sugar palm
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1/3 cup jaggery grated
- 1 cup coconut freshly grated
- a pinch of cardamom powder
- oil for frying
Extraction the of tal pulp
- Wash the fruit thoroughly, remove the crown, gently peel the outer brown skin and separate the kernels. (Tal typically has 2 or 3 kernels inside.) Keep the kernels in a bowl. Wash the fruit and remove the crown.
- Splash a little water on a kernel, massage the kernel gently to soften the flesh. (This step needs patience and can tend to be messy, trust me the labour is worth it)
- Now keep rubbing the softened kernel against a sieve to extract the tal pulp, continue till there’s no further pulp getting extracted.
- Tie the pulp in a muslin cloth, hang till all almost the water has drained.
- Take the pulp in a heavy bottomed pan, cook for 5-7 odd minutes while stirring continuously. Allow the pulp to cool down.
Making of taler bora
- Take the cooked pulp in a bowl. Add the rice flour, plain flour and grated jaggery. Give it a hearty mix to form a smooth thick batter.
- Now add the grated coconut, sprinkle in the cardamom powder. Give it another mix. If you want the batter sweeter, feel free to add more jaggery.
- Heat oil in a kadai, take small scoops of the batter and gently release into the oil. Fry over medium heat till the boras are a golden brown. Keep aside on a kitchen absorbent towel.
- Cool to room temperature and serve. But trust me, taler bora always tastes better the next day 🙂