At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, November 22, 2013


The train no longer used these tracks, and the station was deserted. What had been a well-tended patch of lawn and flowers -- once maintained with ridiculous effort in this climate -- now showed rocks, pebbles, and dessicated weeds. Even the former main road that headed to this location had long since reverted to sand and gravel, cracked mud, and bits of refuse. Naturally there were two Englishmen inside, speaking in conspiratorial whispers about Pathans and Kaffirs, snow, guns, and kings, and the beastly cold of Kohistan. It was the perfect place for tipsy Brits to share the smuggled bottles of beer that weren't even supposed to be available.
Because the religious men of "Suriyaghar" forbade it.

Without beer, the tourist industry dried up.

Which suited everyone just fine.

Far fewer Australians.

Or Angrezis.

He passed Chinipita ka Astabala on his way to Sarehi Bagh, where he had taken rooms. From the cluster of hutchements along the track, he could hear noise -- someone singing a passionate song about love and camels, undoubtedly taken from a Bollywood movie -- and smelled woodsmoke.
Before he got to Nayalaka Gobari Chauda, he ran into Kaka, who once again had been sent out for biryani and gin on behalf of his employer.
Mr. Shahjehanabadi loved a good feed, followed by a good drink, after which repulsive lyrics would be sung, whereupon would be much weeping, and someone would suggest calling in a dancing girl.

There had not been any dancing girls in Suar-e-Jaghir since the Aussies finally left with all the beer. It was bahut buggery sad.
Ohe, Kakaji, Nur-saheb kiya kaise?
Voh phir tali hai?

At Sharabi Mazar he visited a foodshop, and ordered a big platter with grilled kababs, pilaf, yoghurt with cumin potatoes, as well as a serving of large green chilies in a spicy golden greasy ghee sauce that was guaranteed to clog arteries.

Plus, of course, a load of sohan halwa.

He just loved halwa.


That, and the heart-unhealthy local curries made living in this ghastly dump sheer heaven. He didn't miss the beer, had not been around when there were still dancing girls, and as a long-retired railway engineer (from Devon) he found the lack of trains distinctly cheering.

No coal dust, no officious station attendants, no surly armed guards, no functioning third-class vegetarian dining rooms, no Brahmins looting the locker where the laddoos were kept, or chaiwallahs spreading disease from filthy crockery. Yes, Ben Joad was glad he had come.
Suar-e-Jaghir had finally reverted to what it always had been.
A sleepy excrescence on the road to Toba Kakar.
Camels, dung, heat, and dried-up fields.
Few drunks, and no vakil-log.
A very quiet place.



A sweet associated with the faction of Ali, as well as Lucknow.
Enjoy it at iftar especially, in lieu of dates.
Or anytime, if you are a sceptic.

One and a half cup all-purpose flour.
Half a cup of cornstarch (makki di nishasto).
Five cups cane sugar.
Five cups butter or ghee.
One and a half cup sliced almonds.
Ten cups water.
Pinch saffron, finely ground.
Green cardamom seeds, ditto.

Put one cup of butter, the all-purpose flour, and the cornstarch, into a pan and mix over low heat till uniform. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add sugar, and stir while cooking to dissolve. Cook very briefly longer. Let it cool slightly, then pour it through muslin or a fine mesh sieve into another pan. Stir in the ground saffron, cover with a teacloth, and let it sit overnight in a cool place.
The next day, reheat it till it starts darkening. Add the finely ground cardamom, mix well, blend in the remaining butter, and cook it till sufficiently stiff. Let it cool slightly, then spread it out on a greased surface or non-stick baking tray, strew the almonds over and press them into the surface.
Once it is cold, cut it into rectangles.

Note: if using ghee, and cooked beyond the fudge consistency to a brickle state, it will keep for a while in a tin.


According to Ridhwan Kadri, the last Brahm Chorayasi (community meal for snooty people) in Ahmedabad was held in 1915. Several lakh of Brahmins attended, and got so impatient while waiting for the free food that they rioted, and broke into the room where the laddoos were stored. Then things got out of hand, and the unruly mob, now hepped on sugar, decided to trash the station. The police had to be called in, and found themselves outnumbered by the violent pandits.
There were trampled marigolds everywhere.
It was a mess.

Three cups semolina flour (rava).
Three cups cane sugar.
One cup ghee.
One cup heavy whipping cream.
Half a cup ground almonds.
One TBS ground green cardamom seeds.

Put the semolina and ghee into a pan, and gently roast till sweet and toasty smelling. Add the sugar and almonds, stir over heat for a few minutes till everything is nicely blended, then add the cream and cardamom. Cook, stirring, till the goo is shiny and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Roll into fifty or so round balls, then set on a plate to air and harden.

If you put the ghee into the pan first, it purifies everything that is added after.
Which is very important if you wish your Brahmins to riot.
They won't touch it otherwise.


Roast or toast the ingredients as appropriate ere grinding.
[Many seeds develop more fragrance if you do this.]
All measures are given for ground spices.
Volume, not weight.

Ten parts coriander.
Six parts cumin.
Six parts cayenne.
Six parts black pepper.
Three parts dry ginger.
Three parts cinnamon.
Three parts mace.
Two parts turmeric.
Two parts fennel.
One part clove.
One part green cardamom.

This can be rubbed on a fine fat murgee for roasting, but the best use is to mix it with minced lamb or goat. Do not get the berogha type of meat, there must be some fat in it! Two tablespoons of masala per pound of flesh.
Form it around skewers and grill it over charcoal.
Serve with vinegared onions.

Start with bismillah. End with burp.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



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