It was August 1999.
I remember noticing a thin, short, fair bespectacled girl become the pick of our seniors to rag in hostel.
Yes, ragging in college and hostel was normal in those days and we as dutiful juniors were supposed to sing songs, dance on their tunes, make them laugh and describe embarrassing words that they asked us.
Now when I think back, we were asked some very silly questions like 'Do you have a boyfriend' or 'What is a chumma'.
Let me remind you it was 1999 and not like today where such words are commonly spoken by everyone and is not considered any deal at all. In those days (and for my generation even till date) it was nothing short of blasphemy to utter such words in front of elders or share our love lives with them.
Well as for 'Chumma', we soon learnt that it is a Kannada word for the expression 'just like that'.
I was asked to sing songs for my seniors every now and then as part of my ragging. No one ever dared say no to the seniors. No one but Afsana K. Meherbani-that same fair Irani girl who was the favourite amongst the seniors because she would lash back at them with her answers. She once threw a seniors plate full of food as retaliation and that really angered everyone. That was true blasphemy in the hostel world.
I remember telling myself never to befriend that girl as it would mean getting in more trouble.
Ragging soon got over or perhaps the seniors got bored of us. I really do not remember how it happened, but very soon that same Irani girl became an integral part of our group. And in no time Afsana, me and Veena became the best of friends. Years passed and we became more closer, much more than just friends. We were like sisters. We cried while leaving that same hostel, that place we spent four years of our most beautiful and carefree days.
Our hostel food was usually made palatable by some goodies from home. Afsana used to bring this delectable Gajar-mewa-nu-achaar that was the only way I could relish mess food. Afsana introduced us to this amazing pickle which is usually made in Pasrsi/Irani weddings.
A few days back when I put my hands on this pickle at home, I kept thinking of those wonderful and carefree hostel days.
Sweet memories with this sweet pickle.
Recipe source : Parsi cookbook by the very famous Katy Dalal
Ingredients : I reduced the recipe by one fourth
- 1 cup grated Carrots
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 cup Sugarcane vinegar(I used Apple cider vinegar)
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup dried dates
- 1/4 cup dried apricots
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- salt to taste
Soak raisins, dried dates and dried apricots in 1/4 cup vinegar overnight.
Place carrots in a heavy pan and add sugar.
Strain the overnight soaked dried fruit and keep aside. Use the same vinegar and pour in the pan over the carrots and sugar. Let it cook on slow fire.
Add chopped garlic.
If required add more vinegar to soften the carrots
(I did not require)
When carrots have softened in about 4-5 minutes, add the soaked dried fruits and bring the mixture to a boil.
Add garam masala, turmeric powder,red chilli powder and salt and mix well.
Remove from heat when the pickle has thickened to required consistency and allow to cool.
Sending this recipe to Kolkata Food Bloggers ongoing event 'East or West, Food is best'.
Happy Pickle relishing