Winter Muse




Haven’t penned anything in the last few months. Then suddenly while I was preparing dinner this evening, I suddenly felt like sharing something with my friends. I think I should give the credit for this sudden burst of creativity to the dish I was preparing and the sense of well being it spread into me.

I have eaten this dish, cooked beautifully, by a dear friend, Dee. She shared the recipe recently and I decided to try my hand at it on this cool December day. Mumbai winters are so brief and fleeting, that the moment the temperature dips below 20 degrees Celsius, we are all ready to say winter is here. Out come the stoles and scarves, which are all one can drape during a tropical winter. Most of us Mumbaikars don’t even have a winter wardrobe. But all said and done, the cool and dry weather is a pleasant welcome from our otherwise humid weather.

So, getting back to my inspiring recipe, I cooked a dish called Shabdegh.

Shabdegh is a winter dish originating from Kashmir. Succulent mutton pieces cooked along with winter vegetables like turnip, radish and cauliflower, seasoned with whole spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and pepper, make a wholesome and comforting meal. The word ‘Shabdegh’ originated from the word ‘shab’ meaning ‘night’, and ‘degh’ meaning ‘earthen pot’. Traditionally this dish was left to cook overnight over a low fire. The flavour of the meat being absorbed by the vegetables, and the moisture of the vegetables softening the meat, are both subtle, as well as distinct. Today we can take advantage of the pressure cooker and have it ready in a jiffy.

I guess it was all those delicious aromas and flavours of the tender meat and vegetables swirling around me, which woke me up from my slumber


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