|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 34, Tuesday April 04, 2006|
Diary of a food obsessed person
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 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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