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Sushma & K.K. Agarwal: Love Amidst Cacti And Bread Dahivada

  • JWB Post
  •  July 28, 2015

 

The #PerksOfMyWork phenomenon continues, as the other day, quite unusually, along with a diary, pen and camera, we carried our not-so-small appetites and broke into Mrs. Sushma K.K.’s house. Well, not literally broke in, but it would be apt to mention that we were apologetically late.

Sushma K.K., a culinary writer, is as sweet as the mango dessert that she prepared for us within few minutes. She has authored three cookery books: Marwari Rasoi, One Spoon Oil Cooking, and Lajawab Vyanjan, the photography of which has been done by her husband.

sushma book

Book cover

This writer had us gobbling the end result of her unique bread dahiwada recipe! Hungry much? Drooling much? I feel you. So, read on our rather scrumptious encounter with her.

Tell us about how it all started?

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Ever since I was a little girl, I had always fancied the idea of my name appearing in the newspapers and magazines where writers’ names appear, and so I started writing. I was never into cooking. It was quite some time after my marriage that I became interested in it, purely owing to the fact that my husband is a foodie. Back then I’d joined a 15-day course where I learned Chinese food, which had recently trended in India.

I was in a reverie imagining fried rice, manchurian and all other mouth-watering Chinese delicacies while she continued…

Now, a pulao with peas and paneer was a common thing, but a pulao having cabbage, carrot, onion, was beyond imagination for many. So I started sharing it with people, and they kept asking me for new recipes. Gradually I delved more and more into this field and created an identity for myself. I participated in cookery contests, shows, and won many awards for the same. One thing I always made sure was to collect certificates of all such participations and to preserve them.

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Speaking of participations, this woman sitting right in front of me was included in the Limca Book Of World Records twice, for being the only woman from Rajasthan to have won 89 prizes for her cookery books and recipes that are unique and original.

So Ma’am, shall we head to your laboratory aka kitchen where you create your magnum opus!

Sure! Let me prepare for you Bread Dahibadas! They’re healthy and quick to make.

Dahibada made out of bread! You have our and our tummies’ undivided attention Ma’am!

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Ingredients:

4 slices of bread

1 green chili

2 cups of curd

1 cucumber

1 medium-sized onion

Chopped capsicum

Half a teaspoon sugar

Coriander

White salt and black salt to taste

Red chili powder

Roasted cumin powder

Meethi and hari chutney

Process:

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Cut bread slices into round shape. Finely chop and mix cucumber, onion, green chili, coriander leaves, capsicum, sugar, salt and red chili powder. Put this mixture on two round bread slices and cover them with the other two.

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Put these bread vadas on the serving plate and coat them with beaten curd. Add chutneys and spices to taste and garnish with coriander.

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In just a matter of ten minutes, this chat-pati dish was ready! And the best part is, these dahi vadas were made without using even a pinch of oil! Hah!

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You can also prepare this using brown bread. And as you may have noticed, all the ingredients used in this recipe are more or less always available in one’s fridge! Come on, taste it!

And we made no further adieu! In less than a second our mouths were full and our faces radiating appreciation.

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This is delicious Ma’am! I am sure all your relatives must be moving in circles around you to mint some uber-cool recipes.

Haha! You know this reminds of a memory from my childhood, when my mother had gone out somewhere and had asked me to take care of the milk kept on the stove. Just as there came a boil, I started blaring, “Doodh uchchal raha hai!” All my relatives extract endless humor till date remembering that incidence! Such was the situation once and today is a point where they all approach me for all sorts of culinary advice.

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Just then, her husband, Mr. K.K. Agarwal, entered the kitchen. Sir is renowned for his love and diverse collection of cacti and succulent plants. We insisted him to try the dahivadas and give his review. But before that, let me tell you that Sir is also admired for his frank opinions. The atmosphere of the room became edgy as he took a bite, and we waited with bated breaths!

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“Namak tez hai!” were his words. And the next minute, both the husband and wife started pulling each others’ leg! It was amusing to see the sparks of love that arose from their tu-tu-mai-mai!

Next, Ma’am got up to prepare a mango dessert for us! We didn’t know another delicacy was coming our way; we secretly thanked our lucky stars!

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For the dessert, she chopped a mango into small cubes and mixed it with sliced pistachio, almonds, ilaichi and powdered sugar.

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She cut the corners of two slices of bread and filled this mango mixture between them.

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While she was garnishing the dessert with kesar and pistachio, Sir saw her and said, “Ye tilak kyu laga rahi ho khaane pe, pooja kar rahi ho uski?” And we burst into laughter!

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Sir really has a good sense of humor, I thought to myself!

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They both sat together and now it was time for some chit-chat of course, besides the quintessential activity of the hour: eating! Sir doesn’t leave any chance to tease his beloved wife, and so, for the review of this sweet dish, he said “Aam ka swaad acha hai!”

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To which, Ma’am smartly replied, “Ab seedhe se aam kaat kar serve karne se toh aise serve karna acha hai na, kyu K.K.?”

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It was so lovely to be around this khatta-meetha couple, that we couldn’t resist engaging them in a conversation.

Me: Who is your first love Sir? Ma’am or plants?

K.K.: *In a humorous tone* She is the last on the list! Lithop, a South African variety of succulents is my first love!

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Me: And what about your first love, Ma’am?

Sushma: Name and fame! I carry his name in mine! Sushma K.K.; so that our destinies go hand in hand! *Smiles*

Me: So, have you ever complained that Sir gives more time to the plants and lesser time to you?

Sushma: Yes, that happens many a times…

K.K.: … I tell her, there are many lawyers available in the market! Their work should also go on.

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Shashank and I looked at each other to understand what just happened, and the next minute, sir’s humor struck us like a freight train, and we giggled insanely!

Me: *After regaining myself from the laughter!* So, have you both ever tried to exchange your specialties? Sir tried cooking and you tried gardening?

Sushma: K.K. is very good at cooking. But when he works in the kitchen, he leaves it in a mess. All things scattered in no logical pattern. So I tell him to stay away from the kitchen. He does make very good tea, even though he is not a tea person.

K.K.: She is not into gardening. She’ll often just move around me when I attend my plants.

Sushma: You know, K.K. says has a complaint from us women. He says all these fasts and rituals that we do saying, humari umar bhi aapko lag jaye, shouldn’t be done.

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Me: *Confused* Why?

K.K.: Because if you are giving your umar to us, we are becoming old and grey and you’re turning young and pretty! If you add five years of her age to mine, I will become old, and she will become 5 years younger. Mathematics supports my logic!

And we all gave in to frenzied laughter! Who would’ve thought this perspective of looking at karvachauths!

After our tête-à-tête, we headed on to Sir’s terrace garden to explore his huge collection of succulent plants! But more on that later! Stay tuned to know this World-record holder’s gardening tips!

Picture Courtesy: Shashank K. Tyagi

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