The Real Mistresses of Spice

Last year when my friend and I completed Mission Bladder Burst 2014, it was a day to remember. Sipping 10 yummy Indian drinks in one hour, was something else.

I’ve said this before and I say it again, Indian summers are special. Not only because of the mangoes available but how people get together to plan out the rest of the year, making papads, spice mixes and pickles.

As a kid, I watched my grandmother, aunt and mother, make pickles and spice mixes in the summer. This would happen at my uncle’s home, then these goodies would be distributed in the family and would last for most of the year. There was this beautiful aroma in the air and the sound of grinding and gossip.

This year, summer’s in Mumbai. The kind of summer that’s hot and very, very humid. Sweaty, uncomfortable mornings, afternoons and, well, nights too.  Sigh.

This Saturday I woke a little later than usual to the sound of a bunch of women chatting. As I opened my window, I watched these women wearing Nauvari sarees. They looked like they were on a mission. I wasn’t sure what, but I just had to wait and watch.

An hour later, there was the same spice aroma and the same sound of grinding and gossip. When I opened up my door, I watched them spread out red chilies, and other spices like coriander seeds and peppercorn in the sun. After some time the aroma strengthened as they roasted and ground these spices.

Organizing the spices. Don't miss the red chilies spread out in the sun

Organizing the spices. Don’t miss the red chilies spread out in the sun

Still sorting out the spices.

Still sorting out the spices.

I stood there watching them, sneezing a number of times and taking pictures of them as they posed for me.

 

Roasting the spices. Here you can see her roast cinnamon.

Roasting the spices. Here you can see her roast cinnamon.

Grinding the spice mixture.

Grinding the spice mixture.

Spices passing through a sieve.

Spices passing through a sieve.

I couldn’t stop and smile as here I was in the middle of one Mumbai’s most urban areas, watching these women make spices from scratch in the most traditional way.

Did I find one more reason to not hate summer that day? I think so.

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5 thoughts on “The Real Mistresses of Spice

  1. It’s amazing how Mumbai still has these rural pockets, where time passes slower than the rest of the city and where you can still take in these sights. It’s almost like being transported to a village. Chimbai, in Bandra, is another such place. So is South Pali Village.

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