I was about my son's age when I first sat on a bicycle seat, about 4 or maybe 5 years old.
I lived in a colony surrounded by friends, big and small. Just across from our colony, beyond the railway tracks, there was a slum area, and in it lived 'Ghani Bhai' -he had a small 'business' of renting bicycles. He had many cycles, all sizes and would charge 0.50 paise for 30 minutes. When tiddlers like me went to him, he'd sometimes help us carry the bikes across the rail road crossing
His bikes did not have training wheels, we usually had a parent or elder sibling or an older (and stronger) friend hold on to the seat and run behind, thus keeping the bike stable.
A few tumbles, bruises and scratches, crashing into the pavement and a grubby handkerchief hastily tied to a bigger and bleeding wound was how I learned to use a bike.
One summer day, I had rented the bike as usual and a friend was helping me. I guess after a round or two of running behind my cycle, he had enough and decided I could manage well and after the first few feet, silently let go. I had no idea and peddled away talking, soon on not hearing a reply or even labored breathing, I shot a quick glance behind and wobbled in disbelief! WHAT! where..? and my confidence collapsed like a pack of cards...the aftermath was something very natural, I crashed headlong into what was just up ahead of me, an old gentleman. He hopped around for a few seconds before sitting down beside me and saying everything impolite he could think of.. all I saw was stars.
Somebody helped the poor old man up and walked him away from the scene. Many others came to my rescue, somebody picked me up, another took charge of the bike and it's return to Ghani bhai and yet another ran all the way home to tell my parents. Of course that person was not the smartest, he ran all the way and panting up to my parents said, " Pallu chi Aai, Pallu na cycle varun padli, tini na tya Ajobana thokla, doghe padle, te doghe radtayt..." (Pallu's Mom, Pallu fell from her bike and crashed into Grandpa, they both fell and they are both crying..) In his excitement, the boy had jumbled up some facts and my parents, with their hearts in their mouth, ran to where the 'accident' had happened. They did not have far to go, there I was, being carried by some 'uncle' from the colony, with a lollipop in my hand and a hanky tied to my knee,and some other resident, carrying my flip-flops, one 'aunty' caressing my hair at intervals, all reassuring me that it was okay, no problem.
How different from now, when my son has a 12" bike, with training wheels and a helmet and all kinds of safety stuff! Thank God, I do not have to stoop and hold on to the bike seat and puff and pant behind him in this monstrous heat. All I have to do is saunter behind him, enjoying my walk as he carefully cycles around the community we live in.
As easy as it is for me, it does get tiring in this heat and I prefer to make a quick snack / dinner. And that is what I made just last weekend! I have been making these 'cheelas' for sometime now. The original recipe is from American Masala and I am so used to making these now,that I eyeball the ingredients.
These cheelas/ crepes make a great and quick breakfast and IMHO are best served right off the skillet.
For the Cheelas /Crepes:
1 cup Besan / Gram Flour
2 Hefty pinches Ajwain / Carom Seeds ( about 1 tsp)
1-2 Green Chilies, finely chopped ( I leave the seeds in, but if you prefer a milder flavor, de-seed and chop finely)
Salt to taste
2 heaped Tbsp finely chopped Cilantro
Water to make a batter
Mix all the ingredients listed above and make a smooth batter ( like dosa batter) and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
Heat a non- stick / cast iron skillet over medium heat. here is what I do, I spray lightly with oil and then with a tissue wipe it gently but deftly ( hot skillet, be careful and quick!)
Drop a ladleful of batter and in a quick motion, spread the batter into a circle, like a dosa / crepe.Drizzle oil along the corners. Let it cook for a minute or so until the bottom is a nice golden brown. Flip over and let the other side cook, till brown spots appear.
Serve hot, with Tomato chutney ( recipe below)
2- 3 Tomatoes ( I use Roma), finely chopped
2 Shallots, finely chopped
2 Green chilies, finely chopped
fistful Cilantro, finely chopped
Salt to taste
2 tsp. Oil
Heat oil in a sauce pan/ kadhai.
Add the chopped shallot and saute till it is translucent.
Add the tomato, chilies,salt and cilantro. cover and cook till it is soft and mushy and mixed together.
This makes a great quick meal
Best served right off the skillet
Do not omit the Ajwain / carom seeds, they not just taste good, but are essential ( for those of you who are not aware, Gram Flour / Besan causes tooting ( flatulence)! Ajwain helps control it.
This is a Gluten free and vegan preparation
A big thank you to Nupur, who introduced me to Picmonkey a very easy photo editing software. It was really nice of her to share her knowledge, not just where recipes are concerned, but for all the little tips and tricks in other areas too. There aren't many like her! I made the collage using that software.
Till next time....