Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 15, Tuesday April 17 , 2007



Chronicles Of Sam Q

Dearest Diary,

It is one of those inevitable things that come with growing older.... you make good friends for life. How does one define a friend? Well, my dictionary says a friend is a person you know and like. But what if the dictionary in my head says, a friend is a person who you not only like, but also love, care and adore?

Now that I am in the middle age phase of my life, I think I'm done with making friends. So, all you lost souls out there, if you by any chance have harboured any thoughts of wanting to become my friend... well.... you have missed the boat. I am just too old and too set in my ways to do all that I did while making friends. Uff!! The effort of finding out whether you want that person in your life or not…

I shudder to think how I did it.

But I guess that is the beauty of the situation now. If I hadn't done that, now I wouldn't have this beautiful, loving, affectionate set of friends who I guard zealously and am fiercely possessive of. And by the way, when I say beautiful, I do mean their physical beauty. All this 'beauty is skin-deep c***’ doesn't work for me.

I have to have good-looking people around me. Oh! And one more criteria, they have to be thin too. Anyway Diary, today is the day I am going to thank my friends for their contribution in shaping a major part of my persona.

My first real friend came into my life nearly 25 years ago in shape of a very petite person with a child on her hip (picture Lady Diana's famous pose).

I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. Could this soft-spoken, articulate, intelligent, porcelain girl-child, be a mom? And to top all that, she had a husband whose wit and charm completely bowled us over. Thus, our journey of life started as being friends. Then along came another couple who were my husband's colleagues. When his wife was informed of our impending visit as overnight guests, she had grimaced and commented how tedious it would be to entertain "official guests". But ironically, she, also being this complete stranger to me, was the first person to know that I was pregnant with my one and only child. And to cut a long story short, after that night, things were never the same anymore. Not only did we get to be known as "Sad" & "Bad", the whole myth of a man and a woman can never be friends, was totally trashed, because her husband and I became true whacko buddies.

Diary, you know how there is a saying that says you cannot choose your relatives but you can choose your friends? But even given that choice, I would still choose my two little sisters and their respective husbands as my pillars of strength. Through every crisis, Jams and MKM were there for me. Guiding me, helping me, literally holding my hand with every difficult step I have had to take.

And then there is my adopted brother who I shall call my eco-friendly green friend. His partner in life is his asset, who in turn is my spiritual guide. I salute you.

Then suddenly in the last ten years there came a sudden influx of young people who came into our lives and turned it upside down.

These young, hip yuppies actually wanted to be friends with us two fogies. I could bully them, terrorise them, dish out unwanted advice, swing my moods on them and still they continued to love me.

So diary today my writing is an ode to two of my young friends, who befriended a lot of us, loved us, enriched our lives, taught us how to live life to the fullest, taught us how to be true, true friends without any trace of selfishness, to the point where even the harshest of critics and cynics now believe that, yes, there are still people with 100% goodness in them.

So just when we all thought that it couldn't get any better, fate has dealt us a very sad game. I hate goodbyes. So, as I can't fight fate, I will grudgingly comply and justify by saying that, though they won't be in our everyday lives anymore, we all are so fortunate to have them as friends for ever and ever and ever.

So, I say to my Lord and Master, thank you so much for giving us these two lovely, unique human beings as our friends. Not many people can boast of having such great luck. Whoever has come in contact with them will only remember them for being.... just what they are.... our very own RD and Sam.

And mind you, I have some more personal bonus points. Not only do I have such fantastic friends, I can actually count my two moms, my husband, my brother and my fabulous son as friends too. How lucky am I? Mashallah!

So, Diary, cheers to friendship. May it never go out of style.

Have a great Baishak the Sam Q way.

Pineapple-hilsha curry

1 large hilsha fish
½ cup soya bean oil
1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt as needed
Sugar as needed
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander
1 pineapple
1 green chilli

Cut the fish into large pieces. Make sure to cut the head into pieces as well. Peel the pineapple and cut into two lengthwise halves. Scoop out the hard centre. Then scrape both pieces with a fork or spoon to get small grated chunks. In a large flat pot, heat the oil and fry the onions. Add water and the remaining spices and cook till the oil comes out of the mixture. Once this is done, add the grated pineapple and stir to a boil for two minutes. Add salt. If the pineapple is too sour, add two teaspoons of sugar. Place the fish in this pot side by side without overlapping. Pour a cup of water over it till the fish is completely submerged. (Add more water if the fish isn't completely submerged by a cup of water). Cover and cook till the water content boils down to half the original amount. Then add four or five green chillies. Once the water dries out completely leaving the oil in the curry afloat, remove from heat. If the pineapple tastes too sweet, sprinkle the curry with some lemon juice.

Mustard-hilsha paaturi

1 hilsha fish
3 tbsp mustard paste
6 green chillies
1 tsp red pepper powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 onions, finely chopped
Salt as needed
¼ cup oil
6-8 gourd/pumpkin leaves
1 banana leaf

Grind the mustard and green chillies together into a fine paste. Wash the fish and cut into pieces. Setting aside the head and tail, mix the remaining fish pieces with all the spices and the oil. Cover and wrap the fish with the gourd/pumpkin leaves. Then wrap this again in the banana leaf and tie with a string. Put this “paaturi” on a wok and cover. Turn the heat down. When one side is slightly charred, flip over. It will take about one hour for the two sides to be properly done. Remove the banana leaves and serve the paaturi wrapped in the gourd/pumpkin leaves.

Fish korma

1 kg fish (carp, kaatla, ire, baieen)
½ cup yoghurt
1 cup onions, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
6 cardamoms
3 2cm cinnamon sticks
Salt as needed
¾ ghee or soya bean oil
6 green chillies
2 tbsp rose water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp saffron


Cut the fish into large pieces. Beat the yoghurt. Fry the cardamom, cinnamon and onions in the oil till they turn golden brown in a pan. Add the garlic and ginger paste, turmeric and coriander powder and salt and stir till oil comes out of the mixture. Then add the yoghurt and fish. Cover the pan and cook under low heat. Flip the fish over once. Once the water dries out, add the rose water, sugar, lemon juice, saffron and green chillies. Cover and cook on a low heat for another half-an-hour. If needed, add a cup of water as well. Once the oil rises from the curry, remove from the heat. Garnish with raisins, pistachio, almonds and serve.


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