She peers at it closer.
The lid is now opened.
She wants to see whats in there.
One in the mouth! Its Pithachi Bore Gauri.After long here I am with a Koli specialty. I think Pithachi bore is the ingenious creation of a Koli woman whose kid is howling for munchies when all she has at hand is some rice flour, jaggery and oil.
Flash back some 20-25 yrs ago. Come join me in the trip down the alleys of the era gone by. It is summer time exams done and its too hot to be in Mumbai. D Mama is in Mumbai to deliver fish to his client. He is going to be back at my home in Fort for lunch and will return to Thal by evening. I pack my bag and am ready to go with him. Thal beckons me and nothing can stop me from going there. Our conversation goes like this:
Aai argues, "You are not going to Thal till I take you there. We have to ask Dad."
Me, "But you can tell him in the evening when he returns from work that I went with D Mama."
Aai, "I don't want you going there to harass people."
Me, "I won't go for a swim in the sea if no one's watching me. I won't climb trees in the afternoon when everyone is asleep. I won't roam around in the sun. I won't collect kids and harass Mama and Mami. I won't eat Keja. God promise!" I went on and on....
Finally looking at Mama. Aai, "This girl is just too much to handle, Dada take care of her and don't let her out of sight."
D Mama and me set off for Thal after lunch. We go to the Bhaucha Dhakka or the Ferry warf in the Mazgaon docks get onto a launch. I almost jump onto the upper deck. The sailors help me get on and pinch my cheek with adoration. I feel a tremendous relief of getting out of the hands of both my parents this immediately after exams. In 1.5 hour we reach Revas. I love the walk to the bus stand from the jetty. Hot batata vadas invite us at the only food stall there. The stall is built on stilts in the marsh. It is a pleasure to sit and have the batata vada there as the cool salt laden breeze brushes against the skin.
I disclose my plans to my D Mama for evening onwards after reaching Thal. I ask him who else has come to the village for the vacations. I feel proud that I am the first one to reach there. Ofcourse my cousins in the village will be surprised to see me already there. For the next one month here is my plan:
I decide that I will put up a shop selling glass sweets and peppermints that I brought from Mumbai.
Mama will take me swimming in the sea.
We will have a children's pooja for the 2 ft long toy boat that we owned once all cousins and friends come to Thal for the holidays.
Uday, Prakash, Deepak and me will go fishing in the afternoon.
To have guavas sitting on the tree top. Go to Aatya’s Vaadi/orchad to collect mangoes and tamarind. Binge on!
To go to the Bandar with Aaji and have lots of Keja.
To go to the creek to collect mussels with Nirmal.
To play hide and seek in the haystack but watch out for G'pa. Last time I had got a pasting.
Eat lots of Karvanda/ Carissa carandas, Jambul/ Java Plum and Jaam the lovely bell shaped fruit that the Katkaris get every evening in the bazaar. They give free to us as we allow them to use our space in the bazaar.
To play the whole day and return home just in time for a bath and Shubham Karoti. Else G’pa will chase me around.
To play with dolls, cooking with real things like tiny fish caught by ourselves, real dough smuggled from some kitchen and the wooden heirloom chool my Mom had handed over to me.
Golawala will refuse to push his cart ahead as he passes my home till I buy some from him.
That done and me day dreaming I did not realize when we stepped in the village. My Mami seeing me tagging along with D Mama gasped, “Oh here she is! now she will form a gang and trouble every one in the neighborhood”. She calls me a Jakin or witch with disheaveled hair due the avatar I attain from all the playing and mischiefs.
Man my parents would take me back to Mumbai one week early before school started again. Allowing the heat boils acquired to heal. They are caused by eating too many mangoes . Also so that I regain my skin color as I would be completely tanned during the summer hols.
Keja means barter system and the goods too are called Keja. At the Bandar/ fish drying grounds women from other villages that don’t have access to the sea or fresh fish come with homemade goodies like Pithachi Bore, Shankar pali, Sanna, Fresh Mango pickle called karbat to our village. Then in exchange for dry fish we get these goodies. They go back home happy with the dry fish that they stock for the entire year. Thalkars enjoy these goodies that they never seem to have time to make. Thalkar are industrious lot and never waste the summer time that means big bucks.
We kids would make our own pithachi bore in the summer holidays in homes where the elder women would be busy with their business and the elder daughter minding the home. These generous elder girls would invite us kids and get the dough ready. Then the entire gang would shape the pithachi bore ie. Berries made from dough. While the elder girls pooled money from the gang to buy the oil to fry. Ah don’t ask the brand of oil it gives me jitters even now but I knew less then. Then they would fry the bore and guard them till cooled completely and rationed to everyone in the gang.
This is a simple snack absolutely rustic but gets back memories of fun and carefree days that will never come back.
1 cup rice flour
¼ cup grated jaggery
1 cup water
oil to fry.
First pour the water in a vessel and heat to dissolved the jaggery in the water. Once it starts boiling add the rice flour and make ukad. By now you know what is ukad on this blog. If not ukad is nothing but bolied flour. Now while still hot pour out the ukad onto the counter and knead. The dough should be tight as is the picture yet smooth.
Now ask your kids to shape the marbles or dough berries while you deep fry them to a caramelized red of the jaggery. Don’t get tempted to pop into your mouth while hot else you will scorch the tongue. Hot jaggery burns are real nasty. So breathe easy. Cool them completely then enjoy the crunchy Pithachi Bore.
I made it for my friend’s 3 yr old daughter who has just returned from Finland where they live. She absolutely freaked out on them. I had probably underestimated my childhood snack that is so rustic.