The small star fruit plant in the compound is as always laden with fruits. It looked pretty! and even more so when cut to make those little stars from which it has been given one of its several names – the star fruit! Otherwise also known as carambola and in my language, heinoujom.
A moment from the Kanglei Thokpa ritual of Lai Haraoba @ Imphal
The maibi calls on the spirit of Khoriphaba and takes it on to perform the search for ‘his’ bride. As the spirit takes over her, the maibi may become violent or at least display strong physical prowess.
“What a pity flowers can utter no sound!—A singing rose, a whispering violet, a murmuring honeysuckle … oh, what a rare and exquisite miracle would these be!”
– Henry Ward Beecher.
A nongmangkha bush grows at the gate of our house. If I remember right, it is at least twenty years old and has now grown into a nice little bush. In March, the dark green bush becomes tinted with amber colour as it blossoms in abandon attracting bees. The hues of amber, golden yellow, mustard yellow, orange are some of the colours that I have come to associate with March. Read more about it here
Nobab Ametpa: Pomela Salad, a Manipuri recipe; photo: ©Ingallei
Winter is a time to enjoy the sun and what better way than to enjoy the afternoon with a plate of juicy nobap (pomelo) with the evening sun on your back! Ah yes! Those were idyllic winters spent in the company of friends and family in Manipur.
Pomelo is a citrus fruit readily available in the winter season in Manipur. In the native tongue it is called nobab and is available in two colours – translucent (or white ) and the pink (or red to the native eye). We had two plants in our garden – one of each colour. The fruit is big. An easy way to peel it is to make incision to a depth of about three-fourth of an inch into the fruit and draw slices from the stalk to the head. The incision would cut through the thick cover but would not be enough to cut the inside of the fruit. The next step is to break it open from the head and remove the cover slice by slice. Make sure to remove the soft white insides of the cover before working on the fruit pulp. It tends to lend a slightly bitter taste.
For the garnish, add salt to taste, roasted chillies (one or two), toasted gram/pea flour and toasted pounded perilla seeds. The last two ingredients can be prepared in advance and stored in bottles. Sugar is optional and I usually avoid it as I have a bias for the sweet taste of the fruits matured on the trees. All you need to do is slightly crush the chillies with salt and toss all the ingredients together. And it’s ready!
cutting open the pomelo
shredded pomelo with the garnish: toasted gram/pea flour, toasted & pounded perilla seeds, salt, roasted red chillies
These lovely deep red lilies bloom around the month of April in the northeast part of India as the climes turn warmer into a colorful spring. It is called modollei in Manipuri but because it generally blooms in April, it is also nicknamed the April Fool flower.
Kusumlei (as it is called in Manipuri) is a special item for the Cheiraoba, the New Year of the Meitei calendar. We usually do not have it in our garden but we started growing some of them some time back. In one of the previous Cheiraoba, my mom had kept some of the dried mature flowers and strewn them in some flower pots in early spring. Lo and Behold! the plant survived and very soon started giving these spritely blossoms of bright yellow and orange flowers on spiky sprigs. Although I have no idea what is so special about this flower that it is an essential part of the New Year offerings to deities, I imagine it is probably the feeling of optimism that this lively flower inspires to embark on a new year ahead full of possibilities