Sunday, June 22, 2008

Khari


On returning to New York as a married couple, our ‘gruha pravesh’ involved pushing huge suitcases packed to the maximum allowable baggage allowance across the threshold. The only way a true desi travels and something I just can’t explain to my wife. I’m still on a high from all the pampering a prodigal son gets on his brief, infrequent visits home. The trick however is the leave before the novelty wears off. Now back in my apartment, as I was having my Sunday morning chai, I looked at my Nice biscuits (my favourite biscuits), which has turned limp from moisture as they were pretty old. Quite a contrast to the Sunday mornings back home.

When I lived in Pune, the family of one of the boys that worked for us lived in Tulsibaug. Although he lived with us all week, he would visit his family every weekend, leaving on Friday evening and returning early morning on Sunday. One of his most important duties (at least according to me) was to go to Hindustan Bakery on the way back and pick up a Kg of Khari, cream rolls and the legendary Hindustan Pav, all while they were still hot. He’d be home with the goodies, just in time for Sunday morning tea with a crisp copies of Times of India, Sunday edition and of course, Sakal.

If any one from Pune doesn’t know Hindustan Bakery (which would be quite sad), it’s the bakery that provided all the other bakeries in Pune with that ambiguous, yet delicious bread wrapped in unbranded brown paper and white thread. It was in essence a loaf of sourdough bread, neatly sliced and best if consumed with Mutton Rassa. This bread remained unbranded in brown paper for the better part of my life till others started passing their inferior bread as Hindustan bread. When they did start branding it, it was just a red, illegible, rubber stamp on the brown paper. Don’t you just love the Puneri arrogance and indifference? The original Hindustan Bakery located on Laxmi Road had some of the best bakery items that Puneites still swear by. Veg pattice, Khari (also pilachi khari), the strangely delicious bite sized cream rolls and of course the loaf of bread.

Khari and chai was a perfect start to most weekend mornings back home, but once I came to New York, it all but disappeared except for that sad excuse for Khari that Haldiram sells through Indian stores here. That was till discovered one of America’s greatest packaged inventions. Pepperidge Farms® Pastry Puff. And as much disdain I have for anything Pepperidge Farm, these artery clogging sheets of goodness have brought back the Khari back into my Sunday mornings. And of course giving my gori wife yet another reason the shake her head in disbelief.

Ingredients
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farms® Pastry Puff

Method
Fold sheet in half making it double layered
Cut into 3” X 1” rectangular blocks
Pre-heat the oven and using good judgment, bake the bad boys as directed on the box till crisp and golden
Allow to cool and serve with hot Chai.