Review

Poila Boisakh-Lets usher in the new year with tradition, hygiene and Chingri Bhape

6:23 AM



April is the busiest month for us Bengali mothers. While on one hand schools reopens after a long session break then on the other April Means our second biggest festival of Nababarsho or Bengali new year is just around the corner. No matter how people joke about the many Parbons (festivals) us Bengalis celebrate but we never shy away from it as for us festivities are always synonymous to family time, following tradition, enjoying good food and having overall good time with lots of adda.

As kids we loved Nababarsho for the new clothes that parents will buy for us. Bachhorkar prothom dine sob bhalo korte hoy (You need to be and do good on the first day of the year) was what Maa tought us. So on every new year without fail we took ritualistic bath in neem and turmeric water, wore new clothes, visited shops for their new ledger opening puja, exchanged handmade cards with New year wishes and in the afternoon feasted on a huge spread of Bengali traditional recipes by Maa.

Bengali

Jukti phool er shukto

10:05 PM


Jukti phool or Sneeze wort flower is a comparatively new ingredient in my kitchen. I first discovered it in my local vegetable market 3 years back. To be honest I was fascinated with how pretty these green flowers were but the vegetable vendor warned me about it's bitterness. Following his suggestion I cooked a simple stir fry of it with Potatoes and simple seasoning at that time and loved every morsel of it mixed with steamed rice. The flower though look delicate has quite a bite to it and holds their shpe well even after cooking.

Cut to today's time, just last week I found them again and the seller told me to make Shukto with it. Which is a classic example of using any bitter vegetable in a Bengali household. Shukto, the iconic bitter gourd curry is a perfect example of balance. It's salty, sweet, bitter, pungent and slightly spicy yet mellow at the same time. It is eaten as the first course in a proper Bengali sit down lunch.

Bengali

Sorshe fuler bawra (Mustard flower fritters)

7:40 PM


I had no idea that mustard flowers were edible. Saw this first while strolling at the newly opened Patuli floating market in Kolkata. This was just when it all started in end of January. The seller told me you can make fritters out of them or just make a stir fry with potatoes and mustard greens. I could not buy it at that time mainly because fritters and deep fries never allure me but then even my organic vegetable home delivery person told me about it and I decided to give it a go.

Bengali

Tel Koi (Climbing Perch in a spicy mustard oil gravy)

9:30 AM


"Mamon taratari kor, khub khide peyeche''(Finish it fast, am very hungry)...were her words when I last cooked this dish. I was trying to focus on the oil floating on the fish while she not so patiently waited on the dining table with her steaming plate of rice.

This was a regular scene during winter, when she would be in Kolkata for her work and around late morning she will want me to cook and learn something new. While the husband would bring home all the ingredients he fancied we would choose and fuss over which recipe to cook that day. Then she will clean the veggies and fish and will sit on the adjoining dining table and watch over like a hawk while I cooked.

These last two winters  I avoided all the dishes that we cooked together. I haven't made boris, cooked shutki (dried fish) or made her famous dhonepatar pickle. But then the sonny boy just the other day reminded me how much he misses Didu's black sauce, his name for Maa's dhonepata pickle. And then again while doing our Sunday fish shopping he exclaimed with joy 'mumma oi dyakho Didur sei gache otha machgulo"...he is not yet 9 and lost her 2 years back still he remembers so much of her. This made me realise that I should keep doing the things she used to do with them or for them. That way she would live forever in their mind. so I have started doing gardening and painting projects with them like she did and also prepped for the black sauce and gache otha mach...while the pickle will be simmered tonight you note down maa's Tel Koi recipe. The way she cooked and loved it.

Review

Sizzler Festival Gateway, Kolkata; 2018

9:40 PM


Buzz @ Gateway Kolkata is Back with their Sizzler festival and I got an invitation as usual. This place is not only close to home but also close to my heart and we as a family love to go there again and again to dine.

Upon arrival I got to know that Chef Ashis has been transferred to other location but the menu and taste of food under the expert guidance of Chef Deep Mitra Thakur holds to it's true essence.

Bengali

Chiruni Pithe or Jhinuk Pithe

8:29 PM


This year I had big plans for Poush Sankrani. So I made sure that I have my supply of freshly milled rice flour from Dhenki (a traditional wooden rice mill), Asked the house help to scrape all the coconuts the previous evening and got a huge batch of fresh, pure Notun gur (date palm jaggery). 
I even washed and sun dried my precious earthen pithe moulds, combs and picks for creating textures on the pithe. 

But things dint turn out the way I envisioned. Some emergency took place and we were busy in taking care of the situation and a houseful of guests.

Bengali

Chushir Payes

5:44 AM


January is the most busy month for us. with way too many birthdays and anniversaries in the family I completely feel lost and depleted of energy. Add to that Poush Sankranti, Saraswati puja, New Year's eve celebration and now Sonny Boy's final exam pre runs...Guess you get the hang.

January also makes me think why all good things happen in such short span of time. Starting from Durga puja in October it's festivities and celebration time one after another. and in an Indian household no festive gathering is complete without good food. So by Sankranti am all bogged down and laden with guilt for indulging in sinful delicacies non stop. But then Sankranti is my favorite time and making pithe is something I cherish so much.

Ever since I started blogging my sole aim had been to document Bengali traditional recipes and then I discovered the beautiful world of Pithe making. Maa was an expert in it and together we experiemnted a lot in this.

Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Maa's Homestyle fruit and nut cake

10:56 AM


All of us who grew up in the 70's and 80's grew up eating two types of cakes, one, the small square shaped dense cake wrapped in butter paper, stored in big glass jars called Boyam in street side tea shops or grocery stores. Two, cakes baked at home in the pressure cooker or round aluminium table top oven, that our mothers learnt from someone in the neighborhood or from distant relatives. Which they baked again and again to achieve a recipe that worked like charm everytime. I have not much memory of the first one as I was never fond of that dry and cloyingly sweet cake but the second one is something I am very nostalgic about.

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