Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 15, Tuesday, April 13, 2010


a regal feast

The approaching of Pohela Boishakh marks the preparation for fun and festivity for all. No such holiday gives us Bangalis so much reason to lose ourselves in the colours and rhythm that is the magic of this day.

Speaking of fun holidays, what better way is there, than to spend it with family and close friends and what better way is there, than to entertain those very loved ones with good food prepared straight from the heart.

Good food is not only the way to a man's heart, but in fact, to everyone's hearts. Keeping that in mind, this Pohela Boishakh, we decided to stray a little away from the usual staples of the occasion, such as the 'panta ilish', and have delved a little into another, slightly richer side of tradition.

This holiday, take a peak at the spread of recipes we have for you; items that will no doubt, influence you to truly indulge! And while you are at it, why not go all the way?

This Boishakh go all out on literally spreading a feast fit for a king; go for a change of scene from the usual clay or pottery crockeries and opt for a look from the grand days of the jamindars, with cutlery made out of 'kaasha'.

The grandeur and elegance of gleaming brass cutlery will no doubt give your guests a regal feeling. Like the days of old, spread out your feast over 'nakshi' or 'benaroshi' bordered floor mats and floor cushions, traditional 'pankha' with frills on the border, 'benaroshi' bed spread out on the floor, wall hangings in traditional motifs (all these home furnishings are available at Chondon's) and replicate a scene from the grander days of Bengal. What better way to truly treat your guest like a king?


Ilish polao
1 hilsa fish of about 1½ kg
½ kg uncooked polao rice
1 cup yoghurt
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tbsp ginger paste
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
5-6 cardamoms
8-10 cinnamon pieces
4 bay leaves
1 cup oil
¼ cup finely sliced onions
10-12 green chillies

Cut fish into moderately large pieces, rub salt and the turmeric then gently shallow fry each piece in about ½ cup oil and keep aside.

In that same oil, one by one add all the spices, pastes and the yoghurt. Cook till all spices are well blended, then add the fish pieces and ½ cup water and cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes. Add a few of the green chillies and sugar, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, then gently remove each of the fish pieces from the curry and keep aside.

In another deep pan, heat ½ cup oil, add the sliced onions and fry till brown and crispy to make bereshta then remove from oil. Add the rice to this oil; add some salt and sauté. Add the previously cooked spice curry and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water, give it one last stir, then cover with lid and allow to cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

When rice is cooked through, uncover and remove part of the rice, then gently lay the fish pieces and spread in layers, finally covering with the rest of the rice. Spread the remaining green chillies and re-lid. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, then serve immediately.

Fish kofta in poppy seed curry
½ kg Ayer fish or any other freshwater fish
½ cup onion paste
4 tbsp poppy seed (poshto) paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2½ tsp garlic paste
2½ ginger paste
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ cup oil
2 tbsp flour
4 green chillies
½ tsp radhuni
1 cup water
Salt to taste

Wash fish pieces well, remove the bones and skin, then grind the flesh to make a paste.

Take the grinded fish in a bowl, add flour and 1½ tsp each of the garlic and ginger pastes, 'garam masala' and salt and mix well. Divide mixture into 12 portions and gently shape each portion into balls and keep aside.

In a wok, heat oil, add the fish balls, gently fry until light golden, then remove from oil and keep aside. In that same oil, first add 'radhuni', then after 20 seconds, add the onion paste and the rest of the spices and cook well to blend together. When the spices release an aromatic flavour, add 1 cup of water, the let simmer for 15 minutes. When the water has reduced a bit and the gravy reaches a semi-thick consistency, add the green chillies, stir a while longer then remove from heat and serve.

Beef curry with tamarind sauce
2 kg beef, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 cups sliced onions
2 tbsp ginger paste
1½ tbsp garlic paste
6-7 cardamoms
7-8 pieces cinnamon pieces, 2 cm each
1 cup oil
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/3 tsp mace
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ cup tamarind paste
1½ tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
6 dry whole red chillies

Wash the meat well and keep aside.
In a deep pan, heat oil, add sliced onions and sauté. When onions are light golden, one by one, add all the spices except the tamarind paste. Cook spices well for 5 to 7 minutes or until spices release aroma. Add the beef chunks, stir well into the spice mix, then add ½ cup water, stir again, cover and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes over moderate heat. When the meat is almost cooked, add the tamarind paste and 1 cup water, stir well and then cover again, allowing to cook some more.

When the meat is cooked through, add the sugar and stir some more. When the water has removed and the gravy has thickened somewhat, add the fried chillies, give one last stir and remove from heat.

Mixed vegetables with bori
1 cup bori
1 cup pumpkin
1 large potato
½ cup green papaya
½ cup gourd (chalkumra)
1 green banana
1 medium sized aubergine or eggplant
½ cup string beans (borboti)
1 cup potol
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1½ tsp five spice (pachphorong) powder
3 tbsp oil
2 tbsp ghee
1½ tsp sugar
5-6 dry whole red chillies
2 tbsp sliced onions

Cut all vegetables into cubes and wash well.
Wash 'bori', drain well, then shallow fry in a wok until light golden, then remove from heat. In the remaining oil, add 'pachphorong'. When the spice releases an aroma, one by one, add all vegetables, gently stir, then cover with lid for about 3 t o 4 minutes. Reduce heat slightly, uncover, stir, then cover again and leave for a few minutes longer. Uncover and one by one, add all the spices and a little bit of water.

Stir well, cover again and allow to simmer over low heat. Add ½ cup water, if required. When the vegetables are cooked through, add the 'bori', and let cook a while longer. Once the water has reduced somewhat, add the sugar and mix well. Meanwhile, in separate, small pan, heat the ghee, then add the dried red chillies. Fry the chillies for a few seconds then pour the contents of the pan over the vegetables. Mix well then remove from heat and serve immediately.

Arhor daal with tomatoes
250 gm arhor daal
2/3 cup + 1 tbsp grinded coconut
500 gm tomatoes
2 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
5-6 bay leaves
1 tsp ginger paste
½ tsp garlic paste
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1½ tsp mustard seeds
4-5 dried red chillies, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

Soak the 'daal' in water for about 4 to 5 hours until swollen and slightly tender. Drain well, then in a deep pan, add 2 cups water to the 'daal', then one by one, add the 2/3 cup coconut, turmeric, chilli and coriander powders, bay leaves, garlic and ginger pastes and salt and allow to cook slowly until mixture comes to a boil. When the 'daal' is 2/3 cooked, add the chopped tomatoes. While this is cooking, in a separate, small pan, heat oil and fry the red chillies for a few seconds, then carefully remove from oil and add to the 'daal' mixture. In the remaining oil, add the mustard and cumin seeds, allow to pop for awhile, then add the remaining 1 tbsp of coconut and pour the contents of the pan over the 'daal' mixture. Give it one last stir before removing form heat.

Grinded peanut curry
½ cup unroasted peanuts
1 cup sliced onions
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp cumin paste
3 bay leaves
3-4 green chillies
½ cup oil
Salt to taste

Wash peanuts and grind to make paste.
In a wok, heat oils and one by one, add all the onions and sauté until softened. Then add the bay leaves and the rest of the spices and cook for a few seconds until spices release aroma. Add the peanut paste and cook for a few more minutes, until the curry turns brown and releases oil at the sides. Finally, add the green chillies, stir well and remove from heat.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Sufi Faruq Ibne Abubakar, Sufi Arshan Aziz Faruq
Traditional 'kaasha' utensils are from the personal collection of Aziza Ahmed.
Home furnishing accessories used on the floor spread are courtesy of Chondon, Road #103, Plot #9, Gulshan #2.


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