Everybody has their movie. The kind that give you the shake-till-you-break cries that seem to come out of nowhere. Your muscles tighten then suddenly your eyes turn glassy and you can’t quite tell what’s happening. You can hear the actor speak words written with such precise manipulation in a scriptwriters head; the scriptwriter who saw all this coming. “Cried, you say? Good.” Up until a few years ago I didn’t think I had that kind of movie. I was happy to be detached from the temporary reality of this life created in a studio. I would repeat “it’s just a movie, it’s not real” many times in my head and cross my fingers that it would work. Mostly it did but about two or three years ago, something changed. I left Goa to be an actual big girl/adult and with it I brought this heartache that I can’t quite shake. Hide it, stash it away, not think about it – I have done all of that. Still, things hit you.
Smells usually do it for me. Instantly, I am transported back to Goa, to that sinkhole in the middle of my bed where I laid always wondering when would be the last time I could call this my room. It had green walls, one bookshelf, a table and a chest of drawers. And my bed. Sometimes I smell salty air and I play back the feeling of sand between my toes. It take very little for my mind to take flight.
The first time I left Goa it was to go to college. I remember spending the week after my parents left wondering what I had done. Was I really old enough to live on my own…in a terrifyingly dense city…taking the bus….THAT I COULD FALL OUT OF? I cried while I bathed out of a bucket of warm water, missing the shower back home. The second time I left Goa was three years ago. What sits in my brain is the image of me at the airport, walking away from a group of my friends, my sister and my mother. Big girl Edlyn shattered and broke into a million small pieces. What were they thinking about me? Nothing except that I was leaving. While my family cheered me on from the very start, here I was getting ready to break their hearts again. Especially my mama’s.
My movie has moms. My movie has characters straight out of Inheritance of Loss, struggling with the former desire to make a better life and returning to realise that her life was already better, no matter how much sewage creeped along the side of the street. My movie has home. You put India on the big screen and my heart beats a little faster. You show me parents and children making necessary but melancholic transitions through life and I gasp, breathe deep and then say again “it’s just a movie”.
I have found my movie. I have found my books. And I have found stories that can tear me apart and put me back together all in matter of turning a page. I have found my people.
Goan coconut oil and jaggery granola with coconut-cashewnut milk
Goa, India’s smallest state is also my favourite state. It’s nestled cozily along the west coast and is all palm trees, humidity and dense tropical jungles. It’s where my family lives and where I was born. Matt and I love going back there and feel like shit when we have to leave. BUT it’s the circle of life and I have ways to keep myself occupied until we go there next. Cooking things that smell like Goa is one of them. Hence, this granola. It smells like neureos and I feel like the happiest camper having it in my house.
- Jaggery is available in Indian grocery stores in the US. The colour of this palm/cane sugar mixture varies. For this recipe, I used a lighter, more golden jaggery. The darker jaggery gives you a more intense flavour.
- Melt the jaggery only once you’ve mixed together all the other granola ingredients. Let it cool slightly and then add to the oats.
- About 200 gms of jaggery should give you 1/2 a cup. If the jaggery is sold in a big block, chop it into smaller blocks before melting it down. Once cut into smaller parts place in in a saucepan on medium heat and add about 1/4 cup of water to it. Constantly stir until the jaggery melts down. Once the jaggery has the consistency of either honey or maple syrup, it’s ready to use.
- To get fresh coconut water, find a whole coconut (with the husk removed) and shake it to check if it has water in it. Next you will see three holes on the top of coconut. One of them will be easy to puncture with a screw driver or a utility knife. Poke a hole through carefully and drain the water into a bowl. You can also use your favourite brand of packaged coconut water, if you prefer.
- The coconut-cashewnut milk can be made up to a week in advance.
Coconut oil and jaggery granola
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup cashewnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup coconut chips
- 1 tsp nutmeg, fresh grated
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds
- 1/4 tsp dried ground ginger
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup jaggery, melted
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cashewnuts, coconut chips, spices, salt and coconut oil until well combined. Add the melted jaggery to it and mix well using a wooden spoon.
Spread the oats on to the parchment paper in an even layer and place the sheet on the upper middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Stir the oats every 15 minutes so that it toasts evenly. Once the oats have browned, pull the sheet out of the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes. Store the granola in an airtight jar for up to a month (if it lasts that long).
- 2 cups cashewnuts
- 2 cups fresh coconut water
- 2 cups filtered water
Soak the cashew nuts in the coconut water overnight or for 8 hours.
Add the soaked cashewsnuts and the coconut water to a high speed blender, Blend the cashewsnuts until they turn into very small pieces. Add the filtered water to it and blend until the cashewnuts are completely pulverised.
Pour the cashewnut mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or muslin cloth (cheese cloth) and store in a glass bottle in the fridge for up to a week. This step is optional and you can use the cashewnut milk even without straining, provided your blender has done its job well.
To combine the granola and milk, add granola to a small bowl or jar and pour a little cashewnut milk over the top. Sprinkle fresh coconut on the top before eating (optional).