My Psalm 65
Recipe(s) and Vaughn Williams
Look up the word “boli” and you will find at least seventeen different definitions or meanings with many more references, more than one capitalization, and at least three corrections to the spelling. Apparently, on our planet there is a bounty of boli! It is perhaps fitting because one of the more prominent boli stands on a street of individual markets in West Mambalam is the Venkatramana Boli Stand.
Located in Chennai which was formerly known as Madras and before that as Fort St George when owned by the British-owned East India Tea Company, the Venkatramana Boli Stand began serving boli to the city’s residents. Chennai is the capital of the Tami Nadu state and India’s fourth largest city. It has a population of over seven and a half million people, making it the thirty-first largest metropolitan area in the world. With such statistics comes a rich history of slavery, both of Indians and Europeans, and the poor. What makes this stand and others that sell boli so remarkable is that is really is a poor man’s meal.
Boli refers to other things, though. Punjab music, a combination of both Indian and Pakistani cultures, has become global and one style of it is called boli, being a fusion of various influences. Boli can also refer to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry of a type of corporate life insurance called Bank Owned Life Insurance. IT might also refer to not one but two acclaimed soccer players: former player Basile Boli from France and current player for the Parisian Saint Germain team, Yannick Boli.
Geographically there is Boli County, Heilongjiang, China; Boli, Jiangsu, a town in the CHuzhou District, Huai’an, Jiansu, China; Boli Rural District, Iran, Boli, Cote d’Ivoire, a town in the country of West Africa more commonly known as the Ivory Coast. Bolu, Turkey was once spelled Boli and the Russian town of Khabarovsk was originally the Chinese town of Boli located in the Russian Far East region. There is even a fictional character named Boli in a Brazilian webseries Cueio.
Say “boli” to most Americans, though, and they immediately think of the Italian sandwich correctly known as a Stromboli. There is also a Mexican boli, a frozen ice pop and a Nigerian boli which is a roasted plantain.
The psalm for today gives thanks for the earth’s bounty. Sadly, many think not of what they have but of what they feel they are entitled to have or what they feel they need. Henry David Thoreau had strong feelings about poverty and thanksgiving: “However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.”
In the United States of America we have a day set aside to give thanks. It did not start out as that, though. It began as a mercy mission. A group of American Indians shared their bounty from the earth and the sea with the newly arrived and poorly-equipped settlers. The newcomers spoke a different language, wore different clothes, felt their ways were the only way, and knew little about truly foraging for their livelihood and existence. They were, in fact, among the first illegal immigrants on this continent. They were living contrary to the teachings and the ways of the American Indians who revered nature and all within it and they were dying. The day we celebrate as the first Thanksgiving was really the first wide-scale emergency rescue drill in North America.
Today Thanksgiving is a time for football and even stores are now open to rush to start the holiday seasonal sales. More emphasis is placed on acquisition than thanksgiving. Families seldom come together to give thanks and even religious institutions and churches have stopped holding services on this day, the only national day set aside for all to come together regardless of color, creed, sex, national origin, race, or age.
A bountiful life is the hope of all and the blessing of life itself is often overlooked as humankind struggles to race to be the one with the most and the biggest. Ritu Ghatourey explains how to avoid this: “Live life to the fullest and never ever look back, there is a reason for the future and a reason for the past. Love till it hurts and laugh till you cry and when your life flashes before you, make it worthwhile. Be happy for what you have done, and be happy for what you have overcome. Most of all, always be proud of what you have become.”
Although I think the pancakes are the more traditional, there are also friend boli balls.
Indian Boli stuffed pancake
Gram or chickpea flour – 2 cups Sugar – 2 cups
All Purpose Flour – 1 3/4 cups Cardamom or Nutmeg – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp Chilled Butter – 2-3 Tblsp
Butter/ Ghee/ Oil – Non-stick spray works but the taste is not as delicious; 2 Tblsp
Water – as needed to make the dough Salt – small pinch
1. Boil ½ cup of water and add the gram or chickpea flour until well mixed.
2. Slowly add the sugar and cardamom or nutmeg. This mixture will be sticky.
3. Set sugary mixture aside to cool.
4. Mix the all-purpose flour, turmeric powder, and salt together.
5. Add one Tblsp of water until it mixes into a very soft dough.
6. Add the chilled butter to the dough and knead again until the dough becomes soft and pliable.
7. Make marble sized balls with the dough and lemon sized balls with the sticky mixture.
8. Take a dough ball and roll out into a small circle onto a floured surface to prevent sticking.
9. Keep the sweet ball in centre of the rolled out dough.
10. Makes another dough pancake and place on top. The dough pancakes should be relatively thin.
11. Make sure all the sides of the dough cover the filling completely.
12. Seal it nicely and press it again to form a circle.
13. Cook the bolis on a hot griddle using some butter. It is done when the dough darkens in color on both sides.
Boli Balls – Friend Indian Boli
Gram or chickpea/lentil flour – 2 cups Sugar – 2 cups
All purpose flour – 1 ½ cups Sesame Oil – ½ cup
Nutmeg – 1 tsp Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Rice flour Butter – 1 cup
1. Mix the all-purpose flour, turmeric powder, and salt together.
2. Add sesame oil gradually until it mixes into a very soft dough.
3. Set dough aside for two hours.
4. Boil ½ cup of water and add the gram or chickpea flour until well mixed.
5. Slowly add the sugar and cardamom or nutmeg. This mixture will be sticky.
6. Set sugary mixture aside to cool.
7. Roll balls with the dough and balls with the sticky mixture. You need an equal number of each type of balls.
8. Wrap each sugary, sticky ball with a dough ball.
9. Spread rice flour out on a board or counter top and toll the boli balls in it.
10. Cook the bolis on a hot griddle using some butter until a golden brown color.
Mexican Boli Popsicles
This is a great summer delight while working on Christmas items!
Milk – 1 quart Sugar – 1 cup
Eggnog* – 1 cup Popsicle tray mold or freezer zip-lock snack bags
Combine all ingredients over a low heat until thoroughly mixed. Let cool.
Pour into molds, ice cube trays, or freezer bags and freeze. Enjoy!
*Because this is a summertime, lazy day while making presents type of treat, I will not give an eggnog recipe. Use your favorite or simply purchase some commercially.
Nigerain Boli – Roasted Plantains
Plantains – one per person, ripe and peeled Griddle or grill, brushed with oil
Salt and pepper to taste Habanera Pepper Jelly
Peel and slice the plantains and add the salt and pepper to taste. Prepare your grill or griddle and place plantains on the cooking surface which should have a medium heat. Turn as needed. They are done when browned with lovely char marks. Add the pepper jelly and enjoy! This is a great accompaniment to roasted fish or chicken. It is a delightful dessert to make on the barbecue grill and topped with a flavored whipped cream.
If you don’t mind the slightly out-of-culture use, make strawberry shortcake using the Nigerian boli instead of cake. Layer with strawberries and whipped cream for a unique yet delightful dessert!
My Psalm 65
To you, O creator, I give thanks for all.
All things truly come from you:
Our being, all of nature;
The rains and the sun that nurture all that grows;
Even the process of decomposition which leads to rebirth –
We owe everything to you.
May I be mindful or your mercies.
May my life show my gratitude to you
As I learn to walk with appreciation in each step.
All of creation is resplendent in praise to you.
The heavens and the earth reflect your glory.
The night skies shine forth your goodness.
May we be witnesses to others, living graciously our thanksgiving for all.