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.

She had a big house but a rather a bigger heart. No matter how many of us ever gathered just to unwind or chat at her place she always welcomed us with a genuine happy smile. Kakima as we fondly called her is known as Mum to many is an expert hairstylist too. She learnt this on her own. For every festive season in Santiniketan we eventually went to her for our hairdos. My friend M, who is a well-known illustrator now and had done illustrations for so many books had silky straight hair. I always was in awe of her hair texture, I still am. It frustrated me to no end with my ever so curly hair. But every time Kakima touched them she did magic. 

After 12th they shifted to Delhi but we always were in touch. When I went to Delhi, we got reunited again and had a much fun time watching movies, roaming in Dilli Haat and Lajpat Nagar and eating Kakima's Paporer torkari and Dudh lau.

I have many memories and many reasons to think that I have always been her favourite. I adore them and consider them as my own family. The kind of bonding we still have makes life really special but right now It breaks my heart to think of them, of her, when she is struggling with the biggest loss a mother can face. After I got the news of M's elder brother passing away, all I could think was how she would endure such a loss at this age. I still could not gather the courage to talk to her. I just pray to God to give her strength.

This recipe belongs to her which she makes every Sankranti. A savoury pithe recipe made with fresh peas and new potatoes.

Matarshuntir Nonta Pithe
Makes 6

Fresh peas: 2 cup
Boiled mashed potatoes: 2 cups
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Cumin powder: 11/2 tsp
Coriander powder: 11/2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder: 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Green chilies: 2-3
Bhaja Masala: 1 tsp (Recipe here)
Rice flour: 1/2 cup
Oil: 1 tbsp+for deep frying

Make a coarse paste of the Peas.
Peel and mash the potatoes as smooth as possible.
Finely chop the green chilies.
Mix the ginger paste, cumin-coriander powder, turmeric and pepper powder to 2 tbsp water.

Heat a tablespoon of oil and temper with cumin seeds and chopped green chilies. Once they release the aroma add the spice mix paste. Cook on low with some salt. Once they start to release oil Take out 1/2 of the masala paste. To the spice in the pan add the peas. Mix and cook on low for 6-8 minutes or till the peas are cooked (no raw smell) and the mash starts to leave the sides. Take out and mix in the bhaja masala. Check the salt and adjust. Keep aside.

The half masala that you have taken out, mix this to the potato. Mix and adjust salt as per taste. Add a tbsp or two of rice flour to bind it. Please adjust the quantity. If you potato mash is too runny then add more.

Divide the potato and peas into 6-7 equal parts. Spread the potato between your palms. The oiled hand works better. Place one portion of peas in the middle and cover with potato. It would look like an oval croquette.

Roll the croquettes on a bed of rice flour and deep fry on medium heat till golden on each sides. 

Serve with Kasundi or tomato sauce.

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