Wednesday, 11 April 2018

J is for Jam #AtoZChallenge

photo courtesy: google images
Jam was a kitchen cupboard staple when we were growing up. Kissan was the brand: mixed fruit was what we liked. It came in a glass bottle and  the label on the bottle was pretty colourful.

Bread-jam, parantha-jam, jam with dahee (yoghurt), jam on toast, jam on spoons, jam on fingers, licked and dipped back when mother wasn't looking were various snack options available to us as hungry children in need of sustenance in between meals. Shop bought snacking hadn't surfaced in the era I grew up in. Three main meals dotted with dhoodh ka glass (a glass of milk) in the evening, fruit on demand or at the most a laddoo or hand full of nimki was considered plenty.

June 1992. A few college graduates who had joined British Airways as fresh recruits were sent by their profit-making and benevolent company to London on what is known in the airline world as a 'fam' (short for familiarization) trip. I was one of the keen ones and it was my first of everything: first flight, first passport, first international departure etc. 

And to top it all, there were people from other parts of the world who had come to BA headquarters near Heathrow to participate in the fam trip with us. People from Argentina, Germany, Japan and Turkey.

The Argentinian lad caught my eye on account of how tall he was (I like tall men). Plus, he smiled a lot--a sort of open, friendly, warm smile that made the grey London skies sunshine sunny.

At the end of day 2, the ice had broken and stories were being exchanged of how we got to this job, lives we had led so far etc. etc. After dinner that night, a group of us (5 or 6 Indians, an Argentinian cutie and 2 Turkish girls) ended up in one room talking about countries, cultures and food.

It was getting late. Someone mentioned they were hungry. 

Out came a bottle of Kissan jam from an Indian bag. (I'm neither kidding, nor exaggerating). My husband (then just a colleague...and did I mention the Argentinian was soooo good looking?) was in the room, so you can ask him to confirm.

(Please note that Indians, like some other cultures I've come across, like to carry food --their food--when they travel. More on this in another post, another time.)

Packets of biscuits appeared from somewhere. The Argentinian was hungry.  He loved the taste of Kissan mixed fruit jam. (We have so much in common, I thought happily.) He ate a few biscuits. I'm not sure what the others were up to. But he really liked that jam.

"Wait here." he said. "I have something for you."

His heart? I hoped while he stepped over the bed to leave the room to go to his and fetch whatever he had for me...I mean us.

He came back with a glass bottle of what looked like chocolate spread.

"Jam from my country." he announced with a beautiful smile and offered us a taste.


No. No...I'm not saying this because his hands had touched the bottle, not even because he spread the chocolate looking spread on some piece of bread/biscuit and offered it to me...his jam was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

It was Dulce de Leche. He told us that's what's it's called like we tried to explain to him that he was not relishing 'Kissan' (which means farmer in Hindi) but jam...J-A-M--mixed fruit jam.

But we didn't learn. Neither us, nor he.

For the rest of the trip, we would get together after dinner and hear:

"Any more Kissan? What! No more Kissan!" 

"It's not Kissan. It's only the brand."

"Ya. I know...pass the Kissan....that's my last bit in there."

"Where's  that chocolate..."

"It's not chocolate--it has no chocolate in it. It is Dulce de Leche!"

"Yes, yes, wahee to (same thing) pass the chocolate na yaar.

I think it was the third day of our fam trip when he told us he was going to get married that year. His steady girlfriend was waiting for him back home.
Labels are so unnecessary. No? 
Nationalities, religions, likes, dislikes, gender, status: 
how amazing it would be if all the lines dissolved into one.
I've evolved into a marmalade lover as I've grown older. 
I like thick cuts of rind in mine. I love the bitter sweet taste of it.
The best marmalade I've tasted recently came from a farmer's market stall in Beirut.
It's called Adma's Original
The label on the jar gives this as their email address:
Just in case, you're planning a trip to Beirut.

Do you like jam?
What's your favourite kind?


  1. Saw your blog in the list of participants in the A2Z Challenge.

    When I was younger, I used to almost feast on jam, of all varieties.
    Now I have sort of slowed down. But still relish it along with a few slices of bread.
    My favourites are Orange Marmalade and Pineapple.

    (My latest post: Judge me, but judge me right -

    1. Thank you for dropping by Pradeep. I can feast on marmalade anytime:)

  2. Replies
    1. Home made marmalade? In that case, I will head out to Beachy head very soon:)

  3. Jam is the first product of the growing season in my house. In the last week or June the strawberries are ripe for the picking. The big pot and a multitude of jam jars get washed and ready. Berries picked in the early morning are jam by 4pm. Thank you for the taste of summer.

    1. Last week of June sounds like the perfect time to visit you April. I'll happily wash the jars for a chance to taste your jam:)
      Thank you for visiting.

  4. Hari OM
    Long line of jam-making in our family; growing the fruits to make it, too... gooseberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry. In Australia I grew lemons, so curds and butters were made as well as marmalades with the addition of a neighbours mandarins.

    Dulce de Leche?... easy-peasy!!! YAM xx

    1. I'm beginning to feel very incompetent about my culinary skills after reading all the 'jams made at home' comments Yamini:)
      I'm decently equipped to cook curries, Indian breads and whip up pesto and chutneys of various descriptions, but I have never tried making jam at home (yet).
      We have three generous mulberry trees in our garden. Maybe, next year I will jam some of the berries.
      This challenge may make the family happy, too:)
      Thank you for visiting.

    2. Hari OM
      ...had just realised there were responses to comments, so am enjoying re-visiting! As to making jams, really you can't go wrong. They may not all set, but then you have wonderful fruitty topping to puddings and icecream!!! Mulberry... yummmmm..... Yxx

  5. What a fun story! Although my grandmother made jams and jellies, I'm happy to indulge in local purchases from our farmers markets. My favorite is a lavender blueberry jam - it's heavenly. I've never thought of sticking my fingers in, but if that should just happen, I'm going to know who to blame. :-)

    1. Jam on fingers is the best Deborah! Try it:)
      I, too, am a buying-a-bottle-rather-than-make-my-own-jam kinda jam lover...but, I may try my hand at jamming some of the mulberries next year. We shall see.

  6. I'm always ready for a good home made jam! :D

    1. Me too:) Looking at all the people who make jam at home, I may choose this as a theme for next year's A to Z next year!

  7. I got carried away in that Argentinian cutie 😄. Surprisingly neither ‘us’ nor our kids are jam lovers! We rather prefer spicy chutneys or pickles.

    1. I understand completely Pinkz. :)
      Mmmm ...spicy mango chutney ....salivating while typing:)

  8. I buy a lot of cranberries around Thanksgiving and Christmas and all year long I make cranberry jelly. Really mine is more like sauce. This year somehow I forgot to do that and there are only two bags in the freezer to get me through to November.

    Dulce de leche is my favorite ice cream. Never had it as a jam.

    1. I love home-made cranberry sauce. My daughter is very particular about preparing her Christmas feast. Everything has to be done just so and only with fresh ingredients.
      I'll try Dulce de leche ice cream when I get a chance.
      Thank you for visiting Kristin.

  9. What a lovely Jam story. Dont you have pictures of that cutie :D
    Kissan Mixed Fruit Jam has always been a part of our lives, right form childhood and even now, it's only this brand and flavor and nothing else. I remember, mom getting Nova Jam once or twice but we didnt relish it and we were back to our old favourite.

    1. Hey Shilpa, actually I do have a picture--a group photo of all of us:)

  10. I thought I had put up a response but maybe because I did it on my phone it got jammed somewhere - if there's a duplicate my apologies :) ...I love orange and lemon marmalade, and buy homemade from fetes and markets, not only for my family but as small gifts - I've never made it myself ...:) Thanks Arti, delicious post!

    1. Jammed! Nice one Susan.
      I'm getting tempted to give jam making a go next year. Will keep you posted if I do:)
      Thanks for stopping by Susan.


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