Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 26, Tuesday, June 29, 2010




Relishing grandma's secrets

The monsoons had descended into the late days of August. The musky essence had diffused into the humid and heavy air. A sudden release from the heat and the sweat of the summer days with the drizzling rains was a relief to us all.

A warm mug of tea in the mornings next to the fogged windowpanes became an every day ritual. The raindrops pattered on the terrace, as my eyes swiftly travelled over the city skyscrapers.

As I placed my face briskly against the windows, the cold of the rain penetrated through my skin and a dilemma of epiphany and reminiscence soon followed.

I would often then be teleported onto our family courtyard, where the scent of freshly cut grass and the trickling of raindrops on the tin shed, even after ten long and tiring years intoxicated my senses.

I would stretch my memories back to the days when a plate of my grandmother's molten khichuri with jars of her delectable olive pickles or her infamous kashmiri chilli achaar were eternal bliss.

The steamy wood and clay stoves whistling against the serenity of nature, sitting next to a mahogany cupboard loaded with dadi's yearlong supply of seasonal vegetables and fruits pickled into jars.

There is something, something that I cannot define about an escapade into the trails left behind by our forefathers. Ancestral recipes or the art of cooking, all appear so vague and as far-off tales lived, yet not comprehended.

I often just want to drive out of the city to relive those tales but then again, reality strikes and I am shaken back to the present. My grandparents' house, devoid of their presence yet standing still and steady, is now where a family of strangers reside.

The tastes unforgettably forgotten yearn for resuscitation. The hands which once held me close are only nothing but mere whims or shadows following my presence.

One of the family heritages I have gotten hold of is my grandmother's secret recipe book. It consists of fresh ingredients, interlocked with her touches of sheer magic. There was something about those particular jars that I still long for, though I try remaking her recipes each and every time, there seems to be a lacking, a lacking that protracts beyond the exact measurements, the same sequences and the alignments of the ingredients.

Her recipes were synonymous with what I can compare to little drops of heaven.

Now the gloomy nights ascend dawning with a new day. The late afternoon sudden rushes of wind across the horizons are what I see in the month of March. Yet again, with a mug of warm tea I sit on the balcony with a plate of aloo parathas next to the kashmiri achaar, known yet unknown.

My grandmother's secrets:
Mango Kashmiri Achaar

2 tbsp garlic paste
4 red chillies
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp red chilli powder
½ tbsp turmeric
1 kg mango
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pachporong powder
1 tbsp whole pachporong
½ cup sugar
½ litre mustard oil

Cut seedless mangoes into cubes and marinate with salt for an hour. In a bowl add 4 tsp oil and fry pachporong. Then add ginger and garlic paste, fry till golden brown. Then put the salt, chilli powder and turmeric. Add the mangoes. Mix it well and fry for a while. Add sugar to the mixture and pour in the rest of the oil. Allow the mangoes to boil in the oil. Add another spoonful of pachporong for aroma. Once the mangoes are fully cooked, let the mixture cool. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Fish pickle
¼ kg fish, cut into cubes
1 onion, sliced
1 inch piece ginger
1 tsp garlic
½ cup chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp fenugreek (methi)
Few curry leaves
½ cup oil
½ cup vinegar
10 cloves
Salt as required

Apply a little chilli powder and salt on the fish and dry in the sun for a day. Heat oil and fry fish, keep it aside. Roast mustard and methi and grind it fine with the rest of the ingredients. Heat oil in a pan. Fry the onions until brown, and then add the ground masala.

Mango pickle
3 raw mangoes (medium sized)
4 tbsp red chilli powder
4 tbsp mustard seeds
3 tbsp salt
200 ml sesame oil
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds, roasted
1 tbsp curry leaves

Clean and wipe dry the mangoes. Cut them into halves along with the seed. Remove the pulp from the seed. Dice the mangoes ensuring that the hard shell is there in each piece inside. Heat oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add red chilli powder, salt, and fenugreek powder. Remove from fire. Add the mango pieces and mix well. Take dry earthen jar and put the mango cubes into it. Add sesame oil to the mango cubes and mix them well. Put the jar in sunlight for 3-5 days. Mango pickle is ready to eat.

Tomato Chutney
1 large onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp tamarind extract
3/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
8-10 curry leaves
Pinch of Asafoetida powder
Salt to taste

Take some oil in a pan and fry the chopped onions till they become translucent. If possible, use madras or pearl onions instead of large onions for good taste. Add the garlic cloves to the chopped onions and fry for 2-3 minutes. To the fried mixture, add some chopped tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes are cooked and mashed. Add salt and chilli powder and stir for 3 minutes. Remove the mixture from fire and allow it to cool. Take the cooked mixture and grind it to a fine paste in a food processor. To garnish, heat some oil in the same wok and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, add asafoetida and curry leaves. After 1/2 a minute, add ground paste and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Tomato chutney is ready to be served.

By Sanjana Rahman

The trickling tickle of achaar

The insipid dishes always welcome a warm and cold, bitter and sour, sweet and tantalising, tongue-tangy taste. The tongue twisting and tongue curling phenomena are not only advocated to your genes but to the intensity of the family of pickles.

The very thought of a jar of pickle or deshi achaar makes our mouths water and ignites the flame of a sudden crave. Pickles have been an integral Bangla delicacy and have managed to survive the various trends in diets or cuisines.

Originally, pickles were initiatives to preserve ingredients for a period of time, when refrigerators were yet to be invented. Preservatives such as salt and oil were laid on meat or vegetables and stored away in airtight containers.

Usually served as condiments next to luscious meals, achaars are now available in plastic bags to be nibbled on through the day. Achaars have crept their ways into salads and into the recipes of beef resalas.

The malleability of achaar allows them to be mixed into any dish, be it our regular mashed potato or roasted chicken. Just a spoonful adds a new flavour to any conventional recipe of meat. If you haven't tried this un-conventionalised conventional achaari trick, it is time you let it sink in. But then again, of course you have!

By Sanjana Rahman


Check It Out

Studio Salon

To cut or not to cut, that is the question! You know you're in dire need of a brand new hairdo. Last season's style has grown back to going all haywire; the ends of those once stylish strands all frayed and berserk, that no amount of brushing, blow-drying or ironing seems to get it to quit being rebellious. But here's the catch. You would so wish getting a haircut could be that easy! For the first part, you have to do a bit of background research on all the styles that are in trend this season. Next, you have to bite your nails down to the cuticles with worrying about what style will look good on you, because almost the worst disaster imaginable is getting a hairstyle that just isn't you! And if you're lucky enough to figure out one for yourself and you come back from the hair dresser looking great and feeling happy inside, then good luck with keeping it that way, because your hair almost never goes back to looking all glamorous the way it did right after the cut, once you've taken a shower! So, clearly, hair cutting and fretting pretty much go hand in hand!

Fortunately, for those who are just about ready to give up on the stubborn tangles that are somehow bent on being the enemy, Naureen Hassan of Studio Salon fame is here to turn those foe-worthy strands into friends that will love you and help you be loved right to the end!

Situated at Banani 11, over Coffee World, Studio Salon has been around for almost five years, providing top-notch service in the fields of hair care and makeup for its growing stream of loyal clientele. Owner Naureen Hassan originally studied fashion designing in Bangalore, until she realized her true passion and talent lay in the art of grooming and went to train under the UK based chain, Toni & Guy Academy in Singapore. After years of extensive training under one of the world's most renowned and prestigious schools for professional hairdressers, Naureen then went to India, where she took a course on hair colouring under L'Oreal, and a makeup course under Lancôme.

Thus armed with training and invaluable experience from some of the world's best grooming and styling schools, Naureen then set up her salon in 2006 and since then, has never looked back. And her steadily growing list of clientele has testifies to that.

At Studio Salon, you can feel completely safe and pampered in the hands of Naureen or any of her two diligently trained assistants, where you can get a completely personal and customized consulting session based on your type of hair, shape of face, etc. As with all her long list of clients, rest assured that you won't come away disappointed.

The list of services provided by Studio Salon includes everything from facials and massages to make up and styling and hair cutting. An appointment with Naureen will cost you Tk 1100, which includes a complete package of shampooing and styling, and will seem well worth it once you leave looking all glamorous and confident! But if you feel you're in a hurry and want something less elaborate, yet no less professional, you can always opt for a hair cut from one of Naureen's two assistants. Other services, such as facials also come in varying options with prices that range from Tk 500 to Tk 1300. All the products used in their services are imported from India, Thailand and Singapore. On all her hair services, Naureen relies strictly on the Tigi brand, which is hair products that is made from food products, which is 100% natural and healthy, with no side effects. Naureen, a strict believer in providing only the best, states that good services will require good styling products, which, as with all things good and healthy, will inevitably end up on the expensive side of things. And that is something all her clients appreciate.

The interior of the salon has been recently renovated and owner Naureen has taken extra care in portraying the theme of all that she offers in the décor of 'her' space that reflects everything that is chic, glamorous and well-balanced.

Visit Studio salon at house-98 (2nd floor), road-11, block-C, Banani. Phone# 883 6148, 01911 1199195. For more information, also visit http://dhakadweller.blogspot.com/ 2008/09/studio-salon-and-beautiful-me.html

By Farina Noireet

Many years back, one lifetime to be precise, both my dulabhais, Brig. Gen. Moazzem Haider Chowdhury and Juned Ahmed Chowdhury, came to visit my father. Well, both the dulabhais are my husband's brothers-in-law and I wasn't even married then. Papa had to go off somewhere so he left me to take care of them. That was the first time I met Brig. Gen. Moazzem Haider Chowdhury, my beloved dulabhai; and it was the beginning of a very sweet relationship.

Dulabhai was an army man so his lifestyle had a military gait. But I met him after his retirement from the armed forces. And he was one person who enjoyed his retirement. He would cook, go shopping and whenever anything was needed, dulabhai had a way of getting it done.

He took my family members and me to the doctor innumerable times. If anything needed to be fixed, he knew exactly where to get it done. If we needed to buy something he would always be there to help.

My nephew Sameer needed a belt when he was quite tiny. Instead of asking his parents, he asked dulabhai, who had come to visit us. Dulabhai instantly went out and got little Sameer a belt, which he really liked. He would be there for anybody who needed any help in any way. He just had to be informed and he would make it his business.

Whenever I went to visit bubu, dulabhai would get me to do any old household chore. Bubu used to get annoyed but he'd smile and say, “Leapie likes doing it”.

At times I wouldn't be able to sit before he found me something else to do. I was young, and I'd run up and do it. One of the things he got me to do often was make tea. He loved tea anytime, anywhere. Tea could be anything from the strong brew to plain brown water! He would have gallons of it. Often after his morning walks he would go visiting. He would never refuse tea and had cups of it. If he went anywhere in a rickshaw on hot summer days, he would get the host to give the rickshaw puller some Tang or any ice-cold drink. After so many years people remember him for these traits of his. When something funny came up, dulabhai would laugh almost soundlessly but his nostrils would open and close merrily.

“Are you bored?” he asked me one day while I was sitting listlessly staring into open space. I was actually bored and wanted to do something exciting. He didn't give me a chance to reply and blurted out, “If you're bored, you're a bore yourself!” I have never been bored since then; I always find something to do! Dulabhai taught me that there is no alternative to prayers. There are many things that I learnt from him.

Dulabhai had a booming voice. He used to enthral people with his voice as he talked about anything and everything. But when he left for his eternal home, he left quietly...very unlike the person who had a comment for everything.




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