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May 13, 2009


My grandmother lived the life of a princess in Kashmir... before partition. She would reminiscence about the "Bals" a lot, (father and grandfather of the famous Indian designer- Rohit Bal") they were apparently great family friends! and also about the magnificent clothes she would wear, sometimes her dupattas had hand carved fishes set out in real gold, sewn on them, and all the great parties they would go to all the time, little did she know that it was all shortlived, and with the British Raj, all of this would also go away...

After partition the family fled Kashmir with whatever little they could carry, one of those things was a beautiful Teaset in pure silver, and with little money decided to start a new life.Her father soon met with simple young man hailing from Hoshiarpur (Punjab) who I am told had nothing to his credit but was hardworking which was the only quality seen and soon my grandmother was married off to him, after marriage the real struggles of life began and I am told that at times they had no money to eat also, and my nani would sell off her precious possessions one by one for the next meal.

Inspite of the trends of those times, she was well educated and a Dentist by profession, had done a number of courses specially in Food and preservation, and was a fabulous cook, her Chicken pulao was to die for!,some other things she used to make were not common in any Indian kitchen in those times, like her famous Brinjal sauce, Walnut cake, Caramel pudding and so on....my guess is that the influence of the British was apparent, but mind you her recipes were a closely guarded secret and one she would never like to disclose and alas!..have all gone with her, though otherwise she was kind, spent all her time in the kitchen and never scolded her two children!My family says I take after her where cooking is concerned..but I have tried to recreate her pulao hmmm with little success...

Time passed by and I think because of all that she went through my nani developed an Obsessive compulsive disorder and would never throw out even a piece of scrap, she also turned into a miser and a hoarder of mammoth proportions!, as my grandfather worked hard and was sucessful, my grandmother refused to budge and would always keep aside money in case bad times would befall upon them again, you will not believe me but when she passed away and we went through her stuff, it was heart wrenching to see that she had hoarded sugar, ghee, spices, dry fruits in her bedroom!, we also came across like a zillion metres of fabric, and atleast six pairs of the same design of shoes and sandals!

Well coming to the heirloom, more than a 100 year old pure silver teaset, I wonder how it never got sold off!, I guess so that I could blog about it here!!...

It is actually poetry in silver, with the signature "chinar" leaf , the beauty and spirit of Kashmir etched out by hand by a master craftsman...

so peaceful and serene hiding all the turmoil within, just like the Valley...

Savour the pictures...

silver teaset2.jpg

silver teaset.jpg

silver teaset5.jpg

silver strainer.jpg

silver teaset4.jpg

silver teaset1.jpg

silver teaset3.jpg

If you are interested in Kashmir or in the cuisine of the Valley do read my previous posts- Wazwaan the heart and soul of Kashmir

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Happy cook May 13, 2009 at 7:57 PM  

A beautiful and touching post.
And that Teas set is indeed a treasure.

Prathibha May 13, 2009 at 8:14 PM  

OMG..just fell in love with the tea set...Looking gorgeous lol....

Superchef May 14, 2009 at 12:20 AM  

such a gorgeous looking tea set and that too with so many stories attached to it!! priceless!

TBC May 14, 2009 at 4:29 AM  

Thanks for stopping by to say hello, Bindiya! :D
My grandmother was a hoarder too. She would collect even plastic bags!! I think she's passed on some of those genes to me too.:(

What a gorgeous family heirloom that set is!
It must be worth so much now. Is it yours now?

Anonymous ,  May 15, 2009 at 1:25 AM  

I really enjoyed reading your post. Tea set looks so gorgeous.


delhibelle May 15, 2009 at 9:36 PM  

that is so special..these things are priceless!

bee May 19, 2009 at 4:51 AM  

what a great tribute to your grandmother. beautiful tea set.

bindiya June 16, 2010 at 8:42 PM  

No TBC it is not mine but occupies a place of pride in my mother's house.

All November 24, 2010 at 12:44 AM  

This is the first blog I am reading which is giving me an insight into the Kashmiri culture, one that I have never known or have had an opportunity to know.A few of your recipes are rather unique.
It was indeed heart wrenching to read this post.
I am sure that your Naani would be watching you from above and would be feeling proud of you for doing all that it takes to keep her rich heritage going. Kudos to you and do keep it up.

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