There are somethings that never change with time and some memories that are etched in the mind forever…. I grew up in India, Calcutta to be specific and I know it sounds very cliched but honestly those were the days.. One of the best parts about growing in Eastern India, is the rains and between the months of June and July there is torrential rain and its all green every where.. But that is not the fun part.. The fun bit is in Kaal Baishakhi, which comes around April.. The skies will with dark clouds followed by blustering of strong winds almost bordering on a storm and then a burst of rain… It is as if Nature were inviting the rains…Kaal Baishaki normally strikes in the late afternoon early evenings… As a kid I remember, whenever Kaal Baishakhi would strike, my sisters and I ( normally at our grandma’s place) would rush to play in our back yard, well the back yards in our part of the world are slightly different from those that you have in the west , It is more of a concrete area with a few plants and usually used to dry out clothes…
With the rains our grandma would pull us inside much to our reluctance…. three of us all wet but ever ready to have fun in the rain… Our grandma would say ” tthanda laagle ki hobe, jor eshe gele aar kono khela hobe na je” (i.e. what will happen if you catch cold, if you come down with fever then there is going to be no play) and we would be like no please let us play for five more minutes and that is when our grandma would come out with her bait..
You girls must be hungry after all this running around and I have just the food for you… Presto… the moment we herd the word food all of us would go in chorus “kidhe peyeche kidhe peyeche” (we are hungry we are hungry) and she would say, “jani jani, tora ektu bosh ami toder jonne peyanji aar gormo chaa niye ashcji (i.e. you girls just wait and I will get onion fritters and tea for you..) Normally, we were not allowed to drink tea, only on special occasions or if we were drenched till the toe (kaag bhije as they say in Bengali)…. What evenings they use to be….
Last evening here, in King of Prussia, it was just like Kaal Boishakhi, the skies were filled with clouds, with blustering winds and finally the rains, I was immediately transported back to my childhood. Now those days are gone… We sisters are all grown up, settled in different parts of the world, Grandma’s house no longer stands the way it use to… Though thankfully granny is still around she is too old to move about… But the memory of the peyanji, lingers on and many an evenings that we spent on the porch, watching the rain and munching on peyanji (onion fritters).. I had this sudden urge to eat them… And all that stood betwwen me and the Peyanji was frying it..
What you need:
2 onions, Thinly sliced
2 Green chillies, chopped
1 cup Besan / Gram flour +pinch or termeric +pinch of red chilly powder
Oil to fry
Salt to taste
Finely slice the onion and chop the green chillies and in a bowl take the onions and the chillies. Then add the besan and the salt (about ½ tsp) along with the turmeric, red chilli powder. The salt will soften the onions a little and will release some water . This will be enough to bind the mixture. If not, add just a little water so as to get the onions to stick to each other. Now then heat enough oil for deep frying. Take about a table spoon full of the mixture in your hand and put it into the oil, I usually use my hands, I don’t go by any measurement but it should be about a table soon, Repeat for the rest of the mixture. Fry on medium heat so that the peyanjis are crisp from within.
The familiar taste of Peyanji, a Cup of hot tea, sitting by the window pane, watching the rain hit against the trees, the only thing I missed were my dear sisters and the loving arms of my grandma… Somethings never really change, a taste I shared and loved in my childhood , lingers on even to this day