Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 34, Tuesday April 04, 2006



Diary of a food obsessed person

Dearest Diary
What can I say, I am a self-confessed "bheto-bangali" All these dinner time discussions on how I can live on bread, butter and jam, or how I absolutely L-O-V-E and A-d-o-re Thai food, and how authentic Chinese cuisine tickles my taste buds to distraction is all absolute hogwash. I, in reality love my bhat, dal, aloo-bhorta and deem bhaji. And with that dollop of khalis ghee ... ooh la la! I am willing to give up ... give up ... um ... give up, okay ... don't push me, I will think of something I want to give up. Yeah ! Dieting and exercise.

A couple of us were in Kolkata this last long week-end. Our hosts bent back so far to entertain us, I thought at one point I would hear the crack of their spines breaking, but thankfully, we managed to hold them up. Anyway, our first meal at the restaurant called, "Red Hot Chilli Pepper", was actually mind blowing. Their pan-fried prawn, fried rice, and hot and sour soup were culinary delights. Then at the, "Grain of Salt" was another dance with my over frisky taste buds. Well it didn't obviously stop there, because it was a l-o-n-g week-end, remember? Next stop, 'O Calcutta!' Their dab-chingri, Kosha gosht, fried bekti did a whole new dance called sambalsa in my mouth.

(Samba + salsa = Sambalsa) olé!
Then the snacks at CCFC, the cricket club, bought back my Dhaka Club memories. Those finely, sliced, yellow chips, fish-sticks, cheese balls were yummy and nostalgic.

Then the finalé was the roadside food. Chicken bhorta with roti, kesar kulfi, with masala chai. Uff! The less said, the better. My only question to God was, while I was tucking in ... if You have given food this tasty, then why have You given things called, calories, kilojoules, cholesterol, triglyceride etc. ?

Anyway, after all the hurried shopping and eating we reached home safely by the grace of Allah, at 5'o clock in the evening and guess what my hubby does? Like a warrior returning home after a long battle, exhausted & weary, he says in his most stentorian voice “Khana dao table e”. I was like, Okay, you said it. I wanted to, but you said it. Yippee! The vegetarian lunch on the plane had sucked.

So, after a hot shower in my own bathroom, wearing my loosest kaftan, we sit down to eat our own Bangla food. And believe me, Diary, nothing ... nothing in the world compares with food which you have grown up with, food which is home cooked with lots of love and ... hygiene.

So, as Bangla New Year is just around the corner, a few of my favourite deshi recipes. And I am glad I did not promise to give up shopping, because I have to run now to get my red and white saree from ... somewhere.

Lemon Daal
Masoor daal - 1 cup
Pepper - 1 teaspoon
Lemon juice - 1 table spoon
Ghee - 3 table spoon
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste

Method: Boil the daal with just enough water so the water is absorbed in the daal and also gets boiled to your desired texture. The daal should look not mashed after boiling.

Now, in a “karhai”, put in the ghee in a slow flame. Add the daal and fry for 4-5 mins. Add a little water. Then add pepper powder and salt to taste. Pour in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar and give it a quick stir. Decorate with thin lemon slices on top of the served daal.

Fried Pumpkin Royalty style
Pumpkin -- 2 big slivers
Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
Chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Oil - half cup
Homemade pickle -- 2 tsp
Minced onion -- 2 table spoon
Green chillies -- 2-3
Tamarind sauce -- 2 tablespoons
Salt - to taste

Method: Cut the pumpkin slivers into desired cubes. Mix turmeric, chilli powder and salt and fry till half done. Set aside. Now in the same oil, put in minced onion, minced green chilli, ½ tsp chilli powder and stir for 2-3 mins. Add tamarind sauce. I sometimes add some homemade pickle to the masala to give some added zing. Mix well then add the fried pumpkin. Cover and let it simmer for 5 mins. As soon as the water dries up, serve it hot.

Ruhi Kashundi
6 pieces of Ruhi fish
Turmeric powder ¼ tsp
Chilli powder ½ tsp
Cumin powder ¼ tsp
Kashundi or mustard sauce 2 table spoon
Green chilli 5-6
Minced garlic and ginger 1 tablespoon
Minced onion half a cup
Oil 2 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Method: Marinate the fish with a pinch of turmeric and salt and fry till golden brown. Set aside. Now in a clean pan, put in some oil again in low flame. After 2 mins add the minced onion. As soon as they turn golden, add the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric and chilli powder, cumin powder and mustard sauced. Mix well over low flame for at least 4-5 mins. You can add a little water if needed. Now add the fried fish. Mix well with the masala and serve hot.

Always remember to jazz up any dish either with coriander, lettuce, lemon pieces, sliced capsicum before serving.

Sam Q's Jhat-pat prawn curry
Big size prawn 1 kg
Dried red chilli 8 pieces
Oil 4 table spoon
Onion (medium size) 5 (chopped finely)
Garlic crushed 1 table spoon
Water 1 cup
Sugar - 1 teaspoon
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves 2 tbs chopped
Salt to taste

Method: De-vein the prawns, wash well and let the prawn be absolutely free of water.

In a pan, heat oil in low flame. After 2 mins, add onion and garlic. After 2 mins add dried chillies, sugar, lemon juice and water. Simmer for 10 mins. Then take the masala off the flame, let it cool and then put it in a blender with little water and blend to a paste. Then again heat oil, put in prawn with little salt and fry for 4-5 mins. Add blended masala and let it simmer for mins. When the gravy is all stuck on the prawn, pour on to dish. Just before serving a dash of lemon juice all over the prawns and serve hot.

On the cover

Boishakh's back, and we're kicking off the Bengali New Year with a scrumptious array of delectable local delights. Take a peek at page 2 where Sam Q's got a mouth-watering menu for an unforgettable Pohela Boishakh at home, or hit the streets with our centre-page guide to some fantastic all-Bengali treats.
Photo Direction: Khaled Muahmud
Photo: Munem Wasif


With the advent of summer, the heat is already scorching at mid-day and it doesn't get any comfortable during nighttime. So it's time to get prepared to beat the heat and to annihilate the evils that make their way to your doorsteps during this season.

Drink up
Some people get so used to not drinking water during winter that they find it difficult to get into this useful habit even when the sun is blazing outside. In summer, it's vitally important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, even when you don't feel thirsty. Making a habit of it will keep you healthy and safe from dehydration and disease. If plain water isn't a treat for your taste buds, try freshly squeezed juice or homemade lassi.

Fragrance is key
Sadly, summer is the season for body odour. While most people persist in pretending that no such thing exists, advertisements on television and those who are victims, beg to differ. Stock up on body sprays, perfumes, colognes, etc unless you want to be a pariah in the heat.

Conserving energy
Summer is also the time of the year when the country suffers from the worst power shortages, apparent from the frequent load sheddings. Try your best to conserve energy turn off appliances you don't use during the night, turn off the lights and fans when exiting a room and don't keep the air-conditioner running non-stop for too long. While you're at it, make an effort to conserve water, too. Turn of taps, fix leakages and try not to water your lawn unless necessary.

Getting Vaccinated
While one cannot always take precautions against chemically enhanced fruits and vegetables, at least one can take precautions against other diseases. The time has come to take those dreadful shots once more, so make sure your family is first in line. Much trouble as it may seem, it's very important and unavoidable, so make your appointments with the doctor as soon as possible.

By Shoaib Alam


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