Pickled Mangoes and Potato Tikkis

Because I am a lucid dreamer, my choice of foods is different to begin with. I pick things that I love; people who have seen me around my favourite foods tend to discuss my reactions for pretty long. Here I will discuss two of my favourite foods.

Mangoes

I have always loved mangoes and I have always eaten all sorts of mangoes including pickled mangoes. When I was younger, I did not knew why I felt like this. We did not had Internet in the Pakistani city I was living in at that time. So I couldn’t have just researched this online. When I moved to Canada, I used the net to find out that mangoes actually improve dreams. I was picking on mangoes by using my gut feelings. Stupendous! Check out this story from my childhood.

Grandma had spent an entire day peeling and cutting raw mangoes and spreading them on Charpai. “They will dry in several hours from now,” she told herself as she walked away from the courtyard. She felt delighted and upset at the sight of her two grandchildren who seemed to be waiting for someone or something at the entrance of the courtyard. The boy was dressed in a red-stripped ironed shirt and brown knickers while the girl wore a light pink cotton frock and matching hairpins. “Two of you should go inside now. Courtyard is not for you now,” Grandma warned them sternly since she was aware of their rebellious ways. But, they managed to crack a tired smile on her old face as they gave her that wide-eyed innocent look, the one they had reserved for special occasions such as brainwashing opponents. “Please don’t go in there. I am drying mangoes there. It’s for food, and we will eat it later,” Grandma felt compelled to explain herself to her kindergarten grandkids. “Ok Grandma! We won’t go there,” the girl promised her and smiled at her in hope that she would let her and her brother off the hook. “Heaven knows what they are thinking,” Grandma huffed and puffed and went inside the house.

“Let’s go inside. I don’t want to upset Grandma,” the boy told his sister as he tried to drag her back. “Please, I want raw mangoes. I want them. You should try them too. They are so tasty. Please!” the girl decided to cast the final stone of uprising that will most assuredly create mutiny on board. “OK! Hold my hand. I will help you get them,” the boy finally gave in to his younger sister’s wishes.

Holding hands, they ran away towards the courtyard. Upon her brother’s instructions, she hid herself under one of the Charpais. He scooched right next to her and comforted her. Bravely, he extended one of his hands out and examined the Charpai for some ripe raw mangoes. He snatched two pieces and gave one of them to her sister. They both enjoyed the sour mangoes peacefully as its taste made them imagine themselves to be as rich as the Ruassian Tsars. Without realizing, they had finished several of Grandma’s precious raw mangoes.

They had been hiding and eating there for around an hour and now their tummies had become slightly upset. The girl started crying,”How are we going to come from underneath the Charpai without being seen? The courtyard is so big and it is surrounded by so many rooms. Somebody might see us coming out from our hiding place. Mom is going to be angry when she finds out that we got cold while sitting under the Charpai,” she sobbed slowly as he hugged and comforted her and ignored that mild headache she sometimes gave him. “We will make a run for it when nobody is watching us,” he promised as he stealthily stepped out in the open. Nobody was there; to his surprise, the courtyard was deserted. “Come out, we are safe,” he reported to his sister who was very pleased to see his safe smile. Then, they made a run for it again while the girl peeked over her shoulder for Grandma who might attack them with pickled mangoes like a ferocious Terminator: Grandma loads mangoes in the rifle and fires. Bam bam bam. ‘Tis cracks their bums. K.O.

“What happens when Grandma finds out that we emptied almost half of the Charpai?” the girl whined again hoping that her brother will fix that too. “She will think a storm came or some animals ate them,” the boy laughed heartily as he took his sister safely inside the house. And thus, their rather scary and thrilling adventure ended.

Potatoes

I have always been in love with potatoes although my mom used to complain that potatoes can ruin your figure. I could not help her at all when she would say this because my mind used to go out of control at sight of potatoes. When I left Pakistan and got into Canada, I researched this as well. I found out that potatoes have vitamin B6 that boost dopamine and serotonin production. Thus, potatoes relax you a lot and can cause great dreams.

We had some servants who would take care of us. One of them was Amma NZ who was usually busy taking care of the kitchen and food—we used to call some of our female employees “Amma”, which means “Mom” because they were also our nannies. Amma NZ was an old woman who used to pray a lot and still looked really beautiful despite all the wrinkles she had. Here is how I used to request her to cook me some potatoes.

“Amma, Amma”, I screamed after I got home from high school. I was so stressed because the equatorial heat was too much for me to handle. “Amma, make me something from potatoes”.

“Oh! You aren’t even breathing properly. Slow down! Maybe you are really tired. What happened? Drink some water Arzoo. What happened?” Amma tried to calm me down once she saw me in pain of some sort.

“Amma! Just make me something from potatoes”, I requested in a stubborn manner just like a child would have.

“Sure! What do you want to eat Arzoo?” Amma asked me in a gentle and loving tone.

“Amma! Just make me anything. Potato Paratha, Potato Tikkis, or French Fries. Please! I just want potatoes”, I told Amma as fast as I could.

“Please be quiet Arzoo! Hush, Hush. You ate potatoes yesterday,” Amma tried to quieten me as she cooked the lunch for the family.

“Amma! Don’t worry too much. Make me something easy to cook like French Fries,” I begged again.

“Arzoo! You have no shame, child. You ate potatoes yesterday and then day before yesterday. How many potatoes do you want to eat? Oh God! I think you are going to finish all my potatoes,” she complained in a frustrated tone.

“Amma! Please! I have known you for so many years. Please negotiate something. How about one and a half potatoes?” I tried to make an easier demand so that she may comply.

“Negotiate? Where did you learn this word from, my child? From dad, did you? You are using this new word to bug me, aren’t you? I know that your father sits in his office and talks like this. You must have caught it from there. OK! OK! Sit down and don’t worry. I will iron the clothes and then cook french fries from only one and a half potatoes. Not more than that! Then, don’t come in the kitchen and ask me for extra goodies. Seriously! Your mom is going to be so angry when she notices that the potatoes have gone missing,” Amma screamed the last sentence in anger.

“Amma NZ! Thank you! I love you so very much,” my mood brightened as I hugged her.

While Amma NZ was frying fries for me, I went back to the kitchen and jumped at her from the back. She screamed in surprise because she got scared.

“Now what Arzoo? Why are you not leaving the kitchen to me? I cannot believe that you are back. I am not going to make your chips like this. You bug me too much,” she fired another set of complaints at me.

I got so worried that I won’t ever get my french fries from her and that she would be annoyed at me. “Amma, Amma, please let me see what you are cooking so far. I could smell these from my room. I couldn’t resist the smell so I came to check. Aha! They are almost golden brown. Please put some red chilies and salt in there,” as usual, I protested for spices.

“Waaaah! Arzoo! This is sounding so unhealthy to me. You have no shame. How much spices do you eat, Arzoo?” Amma tried to make fun of me so that I  may feel ashamed and forget about adding flavour to my fries.

“Amma! Amma! Stop! Stop! Please just do what I ask you to do. I will leave the kitchen then,” I decided to stick around and bug her further. It was so fun connecting with her. I loved her a lot; and, she was so beautiful and funny too.

“OK! I will throw a handful of spices in there. You are forcing me to give you spices. I cannot believe this! OK! You can have these. Please, be happy about this,” Amma NZ commented as she cooked like an expert.

Soon, she threw a plate of golden brown and spiced french fries in front of me. “Here! You just eat this. You are probably not having lunch now. I made lunch for you as well. Now that is going to get wasted,” she grumbled again as she lovingly gave me a tissue paper to clean my hands.

As a result of this drama, Amma NZ was angry all day. And, I just ate my potatoes and burped a lot. I slept really well after eating fries; and, I think I missed my lunch.

After a couple of days, I came back to bother Amma. “Amma! I want more chips,” I said as I drank some water and eyed her carefully.

This time, Amma started laughing. “Your fun isn’t over yet, I think,” she replied as she stared at me dotingly.

“Thank you Amma. I love your laughter,” I held her arm and paid her a compliment to make her smile again.

“You know, I just checked the rest of potatoes. There are really less left and some of them have worms on them. I need to throw the bad ones. Forget it for today. Eat an ice cream instead,” Amma immediately made an excuse and tried distracting me with ice cream.

Copyright © by Arzoo Zaheer. All Rights Reserved.

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