Bengali

Taler Pithe (Bengali Steamed Palmyra palm cake)

11:31 PM


In Bengal the month Bhadro is infamous for two reasons. Bhadrer pawcha garom (The sticky highly humid weather) and Bhadrer Paka Taal (ripe palmyra or toddy palm) and for obvious reasons these two are interconnected.

Taal is a unique fruit and while maturing from raw to ripe passes through a very interesting cycle.

When raw it is famous as Taalgoda/ talsansh or ice apple all over India. There hardly would be anyone who hasn't quenched their thirst in peak summer with it's cooling transparent seeds that holds some refreshing liquid inside. Throughout the country, the vendors will set their carts on the roadsides and will skillfully cut open the fruit to reveal the three perfectly shaped pods of Talshans or ice apple. The shape sure is special and the water inside it makes it a fun thing to eat. So much so that in Bengal, on an order to create something special to befool the new son in law a special sweet was crafted following this. Jolbhora or Korapaker Taalsansh the famous Bengali milk fudge was created to celebrate this unique fruit. 

Then it takes a couple of months to mature and ripen perfectly at the beginning of Sharad Ritu. The deep orange pulp gets sweeter and develops a heady aroma to announce the arrival of many mouth-watering sweet treats for the festive days like Janmashtami and Nanda Utsab.  and when they start to fall off from the tree,  It is then that the Bengalis plan their festive treats around it and a special day called Tal Nabami is dedicated to such treats.
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Bengali

Kathal Bichir Daal (A Faux Dal recipe with jack fruit seeds)

5:40 PM


Bengal has always been described as the land of abundance. Each and every traveler whoever crossed this lush green land has always described it as the land of bounty and abundance. But the history and destiny of this land changed forever under the British rule especially in the 18th and 19th century when many famines devastated this land. Chiattorer monontor or the famine of 1770 wiped out almost one-third of the population so as the famine of 1943 which estimated to have killed around 3 million Bengalis.

Bengali

Poda Pitha

10:47 PM


"It is your first visit after your marriage. What can I make for you?" Her voice chimed on the phone.

When Mami asked me this just before our first visit to Mamarbari after our marriage I felt elated. Mine was the first wedding on my mother's side. Everyone was excited to see and greet the new son in law but at the same time, everyone was worried about me. They found it too much for me to handle home and work all alone at a faraway from them in Bangalore. So on that trip home, I found myself being pampered by everyone.

But as I was going there in a big group, I did not want to burden her anymore with my requests.
Yet secretly there was something I was craving for. 
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Curry

Paneer Masala

9:22 PM


It's funny how with just a change of time makes things feel precious to us. The other day the husband came home feeling triumphant with a block of our favourite paneer. I am not much of a paneer lover yet the sight of new ingredients made us happy. Though not on her usual track, life sure has found a new normal to carry on.

Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Eggless Wholewheat Vanilla cake

9:07 PM


The daughter is becoming naughtier day by day and she has a quirky sense of humour too. The other day I was talking to my brother on phone about how this time is so confusing. How we never had imagined that something like this could happen to the human race and so on. After I finished talking, the little 6 years old came to me and asked for something to eat. It was just 7 in the evening and they had their snacks and a drink around 5.30. On questioning, she replied, like you and Mamu (uncle), my tummy is super confused too. It can't keep track of the time and feel hungry all the time.

Bengali

Lau shak die Macher Morich Pora Jhol (Fish curry with bottle gourd stems)

4:34 AM


"Maa, what are you cooking today?"
I asked her while sitting on the dining table chair with a heavy thump.
She was cooking in my open kitchen with the sunlight reflecting on her sweaty face. It was 9 in the morning and I could see most of her cooking was done.
Which clearly disappointed me.
Pregnancy made me crave crazy things and on the last leg of that journey, Maa was there to indulge me and I was greedy enough to set the menu every morning. That day was different though. I could hardly sleep the night before and thought have missed my opportunity.

Bengali

Biyebarir Jhuri Alu Bhaja (Bengali Crisp fried Julienne potatoes)

11:50 AM


When my kids were small every time someone came with an wedding invitation I invariably ended up enquiring whether the menu is Bengali. You might find it queer, but not for a mother of toddlers. Attending invitations with small kids is extremely difficult. First, you need to remember and pack their things for the entire evening and then you have to be on your toes to run after them around the venue. Come dinner time, it would become more difficult. They won't be able to handle the spicy food so you need to feed them home-cooked food at some quiet corner, which, in a crowded wedding is next to impossible. 

Aam KAsundi Murgi Chicken in Mango and mustard sauce

12:43 PM


If like trousseau, a Bengali would-be bride is ever asked to gather her spice-box, mustard would be the first one she would put safely in her secret stash. 
Yes, Mustard is that indispensable ingredient of our pantry, the disappearance of which could cause a serious heart attack in many like me. Especially in a Ghoti household where Macher Jhal stands for Sorshe and aam kasundi (raw mango mustard sauce)is sprinkled on anything to make it edible.

Bread Paratha etc

Namak Mirch ka Paratha

6:30 AM


Today is the 19th day of India under lockdown. Something that started with a lot of apprehensions and fears slowly is becoming a new normal. People working from home as much as possible. Kids learning through online classes and each of us is trying our best to make sense of this changing time in our own unique way.

Bengali

Neem Jhol

11:22 PM


We belonged to a time when the rule in every middle-class family was to finish whatever was served on the plate. Ingredients were local and seasonal. Food was wholesome and simple, but the rules were strict.

Bengali

Macher Tel die Jhinge khosar bhorta

9:16 PM


The time sure is tough and at times heartbreaking. While we all stay home to fight this deadly virus, thousands of migrant workers started their journey to reach home. Just think of their plight. No work, no money and no assurance whether there would be any food the day after. The kids as young as 3-4 years old are there too and together they are walking, carrying their belongings to reach home which is 700-800 Kms away. 

Bengali

Mourola Macher Bati Charchari

9:18 PM


It's been almost 10 days that I haven't stepped out of the house. 9th day without any househelp and 4th day of the nationwide lockdown. But I am not complaining. Rather I find ourselves fortunate to have a roof over our head, food on our table and the opportunity to work from home when we need it the most.

Bengali

Alur khosa bhaja /crisp fried potato peel

9:31 PM


One of my favorite books of all time is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Anny Barrows. The book is set in 1946, a time when the whole world was starting to recover from the devastating World war 2.

I should not be a spoilsport and reveal the storyline here but let me just tell you that the book gets its name from an innovative dish the islanders created during the time of War.

World War 2 brought in the rationing of staples around the whole world. Food was scarce everywhere, but it was more so on the island of Guernsey as the German outpost there took away everything the people produced. All they were left with were potatoes and seawater to season it. They could not afford to waste anything and came out with an innovative way to use up potato peels to replace flour and make a pie crust. This story always reminded me of my ma's alur khosa bhaja or crisp fried potato peels. 

Meat n Poultry

Egg Biriyani

8:36 AM


“The Indian subcontinent owes a deep debt to the Muslim community, for it is they who introduced the gamut of biryanis and pulaos to us.”- Pratibha Karan

My first taste of Biriyani was when I was 7.
and for that first time, I was lucky enough to taste the real deal- cooked by khansamah from Lucknow and served as a community meal.

Bengali

Shutki mach or Bengali style dried fish curry

6:23 PM


'Aj Shutki Mach banachhi. (today am making dried fish curry)' she called out as we opened the gate to leave. Maa looked back and Dida waved smiling from ear to ear.

I had no clue what it was but could understand it must have been something very good as maa scrambled to gather her things after finishing classes in the college.

I was around 4 then. Often accompanied maa to her Mastergrad classes. While she studied, I was left in charge of her other batch mates or often in the common room where the professors indulged me in stories and toffees. I was a  talkative kid and Maa was adored for who she was and also for how she strived to get her degree even after three kids.

Hasi Kakimar Nonta Pithe

9:36 PM



When I think of my childhood my senses act in a weird manner. The mind is followed by all my senses in such a way that I almost could feel, smell and experience those moments. Trust me I had a dream childhood, where our guardians conspired with the nature to make us ready for the future.

And that brings me to Hasi Kakima. My friend M's mother. A frail yet strong, very soft spoken person who I strongly believe could have written a best selling Bengali cookbook had she chosen that path. But not her cooking skills, what set Hasi kakima apart from everyone else is her relationship with every kid who befriended her kids. She never scolded us but we knew when she did not approve of things. She was friendly and gentle with our emotions and we could share our thoughts and problems with her without any hesitation. I remember even how we shared our biggest mischiefs with her and could giggle together. Now as a mother I often try to decode her style of parenting and loving every kid as her own.

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