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



Tip me over, pour me out

POHELA Boishakh is no reason for the ritualistic power failures to cease or the sweltering summer heat to calm down. Come to think of it, it's no reason for one to sit idle and do nothing either.

Attending the musical soiree at the Botomul or fervently treading the streets as part of the Mongol Shobhajatra is indeed the deed of the day. Yet that spares a long, summer evening when the hustle and the bustle of the day has ceased, leaving ample time to get busy with a session of chitchat and gossip with those near and dear.

But with only a day left for 'D-Day' time is not on your side. All however is not lost! Plan for a tea party with deshi theme, one that will feature finger foods deeply rooted in our culture and not taxing on the stomach in the horrid summer heat.

Starry, starry night
Indoors or out in the open, the heat will certainly put your energy to rest. Arranged out in the lawn, if you are blessed with one, or on the rooftop, under the canopy of the summer sky you have plenty of opportunity to play with the ambiance. Keep it simple: Gather 10-12 hurricane lamps, nothing expensive - cheap options available at all bazaars around town, and place them on plastic stools and spread around the space. Dimly lit, these will ensure uninterrupted illumination throughout the evening.

Summer coolers
Greet your guests with chilled coolers: sherbets or seasonal fruit juices. Watermelons are now available in the market. Although not as sweet as one would expect, they serve well as juice. Or, make best use of green mangoes as they make their seasonal debut. Pulp of the green fruit, mixed with a hint of chilli paste, and rock salt and some sugar would make the ideal 'sweet and sour' drink. And remember ice…lots of ice!

However these are quite common, so to surprise your guests try Dilawez and Mehruna's Melon Shake: 3 cups melon, cut into cubes. To it add 3 tbsp powder milk and 4 tbsp sugar, water, as required. Blend all ingredients together in a processor. Use water according to desired consistency. Serve chilled.

Cholesterol scare
One day of letting loose of the cholesterol count will not give your guests a heart attack. This after all is a tea party and not followed by dinner. So, your assortment of finger foods may contain some fat-rich delicacy, along with other healthy alternatives.

Fry some Dhaka cheese on a wok and put on Bakarkhani. Add a pinch of black pepper; garnish with coriander leaves, tomatoes. And presto!

One for the sweet tooth
Murali, kodma and other sugar coated deshi snacks, which the peddler would bring in the evening of the days gone by are still available if you know where to find them. Relive those days, serving murali coated in molasses or sugar - whatever you fancy! This will cut down your time in the kitchen and leave you with more time to plan the evening.

You can also opt for delicious moa (sweet balls made from puffed rice) if your palette does not suit murali.


Main course
Chitoi is ideal for tea parties, if not for anything else, the relatively easy preparation and the countless variants one can make out of it. For Pohela Boishakh you can serve chitoi with scrambled eggs, shorshey bhorta (mustard paste) or simply topped with strawberry syrup. Another dish that can accompany the delicious pitha is bhuna beef or pigeon roast. The age-old favourite of plain luchi and 'aloo dum' is always the other easy option.

Chotpoti and fuchka are a must have at an evening party. Ask a vendor to bring his street cart on your lawn and make delicious savouries for guests.

If planning to arrange the party indoors, make your own chotpoti. Prepare a sweetened dip with yoghurt and put them on the fuchka before serving. This will mimic the dishes served at restaurants.

Time with poetry
If you have a friend who recites well, ask him/her to give the audience a treat of timeless poetry. Be it Jibanananda Das, Tagore, Nazrul, Nirmolendu Goon or Shahidullah, an evening with Bengali poems, on Pohela Boishakh would be the perfect recipe for some quality time. Or an acoustic session of one of Tagore's timeless songs.

And the tea…
What is a tea party without the quintessential drink? Remember some might prefer to drink their tea black while others would opt for tea with milk and sugar. While others may chose to sip masala or green variants. It is said, that often a hot drink in the humid weather makes the body feel cooler. A cup of malai chai tea is probably the right beverage to take some heat of your body.

Try our own recipe of malai chai, bring a cup of full cream milk to boil until it comes down to three-fourths of a cup, add a teaspoon of orange pekoe and two teaspoon of sugar, sieve and serve in small Moroccan style teacups (available at Décor Idée) with a pinch of cinnamon powder on top. You'll find heaven right there.

For a lighter option, that will aid in the digestion process, particularly in the sweltering heat of this summer, boil a few mint leaves in a cup of water, add a tea bag to it, and voila! you have in your hands a soothing cup of mint tea to rejuvenate the senses.

Another deliciously refreshing drink that not only tastes amazing but is also an excellent detoxifying agent, is the iced tea. To bring a variation, add flavours such as peach, apple or peppermint according to preference. There's no better companion than a tall glass of this amazing stuff to while away a lazy summer evening!

Just make sure the party does not dry up and keep the tea flowing!
Have fun.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Table decoration courtesy: Food Art
Contact #01733717917, 01714019833
Special thanks to Murshid Jahan Chowdhury, Mehruna Chowdhury and Dilawez Durdana for organising the photoshoot.



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