Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chai and Biscuit

The thought of biscuits takes me back many years when we had a lovely biscuit factory - JB Mangharam & Sons. I say lovely, because I can still remember the wonderful aroma that used to waft from their factory as we went past the area where they were located. Even as far as a kilometer away!

The lane outside the J B Mangharam factory had these carts that used to sell huge packets of broken biscuits. Like the export rejects of the present day. There would be wafers, cream biscuits, ordinary tea biscuits in all sizes and shapes. For a princely sum of five rupees. These would be brought home and stored in two 5 kg tins of Sway detergent powder!!

Sway used to be the detergent of our times. They were probably the first company that introduced the detergent powder. They sold it in packs that were placed in these big light blue tins. After which the tins would be scoured and sun dried and ultimately found a pride of place in every kitchen. Most kitchens would have rows and rows of these tins in which pulses and eatables were stored and as in our house the JB Mangharam biscuit bits.

The variety of biscuits or cookies available these days are mind boggling. There are many who will proclaim that the most boring biscuit of them all is the Marie biscuit. But invariably when you go visiting friends,unannounced, you will be given a cup of tea with the Marie biscuit. Some have even rechristened it as Mary Biscuit.

Hard to think of the good old Marie biscuit as a food of the royals or upper class. In fact it is thought that the large size was intentional . Ever noticed that it cannot be dunked into the tea even in a fairly large mug until after the first bite. It would have been highly 'improper'for a royal to indulge in dunking!

The biscuit was named after the Grand Duchess Maria, or Marie,daughter of Czar Alexander II of Russia, who was supposedly the Lady Diana of her time. She married Alfred , the second son of Queen Victoria. To commemorate the union, a bakery in Britan created the Marie biscuit.

Now with a Royal wedding coming up, Prince William has brought this otherwise considered boring biscuit into limelight, by choosing it to be a main ingredient of one of the cakes that is to be served.

It is the bland flavour of the biscuit that makes it specially suitable for sweet dishes. A friend made this rich dessert from Marie biscuit the other day. She made a liqueor of coffee. Dunked the biscuit in it. A layer of that on a shallow dish. A coating of marmalade. And over it the chocolate sauce. Followed by nuts. And some whipped cream. This was repeated thrice. The leftover cream was slathered over the top. Decorated with more nuts and then frozen. And sliced and devoured.

A delicious alternative to dunking in tea. And Prince William would definitely concur.

PS: If you like dunking biscuits into your beverage, check out this site.

A google search indicates that JB Mangharam is now a subsidiary of Britannia Foods.

And Sway detergent vanished when they were outsmarted by Surf. Sway detergent increased their sales by giving a plastic bucket for every 3 packet tops. Sales soared, till Surf bought all the buckets that were manufactured. Sway could not keep up their offer of bucket exchange. Housewives changed their brand and the detergent company soon closed down. The Sway tins remained in many households like ours till they corroded.

Image courtesy:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Visiting the Daughter

I am on a short trip to visit my younger daughter in Delhi.  I never generally travel alone, but this is one of those few times.  She shares the apartment with two of her classmates from law school. 

I am reminded of the song - Sunrise, Sunset from the old musical - Fiddler on the Roof. 

When Tevye sings -
Is this the little girl I carried..?. 
and his wife Goldie joining him with ...
I don't remember growing older, When did they?

Yes, when did they?  It's true, she left home early and went five years away at college, but then she did manage to come home at least twice a month since we lived not too far away.  It is now close to two years that she has started work and this time far away from home.  The other two of her flatmates are as young and confident as her.

And they manage it all.  Despite working almost seven days a week, they manage to catch up with friends, throw in a small party, go out for a movie.   Where do they get their energy? 

It is a reversal of roles.  She is the caretaker.  And it  seems the time has come  for me to imbibe some of the qualities .  They were definitely not inherited.  

I will soon head back home.  And will continue to worry.  Which parent does not?  But in a way content that she has a good head on her shoulders.
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