|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 6, Issue 35, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
There is an old Chinese proverb that says, "When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other." It stands as a poetic reminder that the presence of beauty is essential for our lives and our souls. And what other object screams 'beauty' louder than the fragile flower, in its full bloom?
They say, a flower is a gift for all occasions, something that can lift the heart even in the gloomiest of days. And it makes for excellent home decor! Right now though, in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, people are tending to spend a bit more on the “bread” rather than the “lily”. Plus, due to the ongoing late monsoon, the flower industry of Bangladesh is facing a seasonal recession.
“We are currently facing the worst season for flower sales, but it is expected to increase after 27 Ramadan,” said a flower retailer at Shahbagh. Although many other places around town have also become flower hubs nowadays -- Gulshan for example -- Shahbagh still remains the flower centre of not only Dhaka but all of Bangladesh. That means people buying flowers in Khulna are actually buying flowers supplied from Shahbagh.
Every morning, starting from as early as 3 am, truckloads of flowers are transported from all the nurseries and farms around Bangladesh to Shahbagh, perhaps the one and only market for flowers in the country. A wholesale market is set up where flower sellers come to restock. These flowers' prices are obviously lower than the retail prices.
Supplies of flowers come from Jessore, Gazipur, Savar, etc. One would be surprised at the variety that is being produced locally these days. Aside from the common flowers like roses, tube roses and marigolds, we have also started farming flowers like orchids and gladiolas locally. There are also imported counterparts of these flowers in the market (which last longer), but due to their high prices, they do not see as much sales as local flowers. A single imported lily can cost between Tk300-320 alone. And even that is subjected to a two to three-fold price hike during special occasions like Valentine's Day or the Bangla and English new year festivals!
There is no doubt that flower prices will increase during Eid. Although flowers and Eid do not seem to go hand in hand, it is not wise to question the utility of flowers in this religious month, because beauty is a necessity; a necessity that can now be filled with the utmost ease. All you need to do is go into a flower shop, pick the flowers you like and make your own bouquet to liven up the living room.
Or, you could buy one of those fancy ready-made bouquets to give to someone you love. Although the application of a flower is potentially endless, its lifetime is very short. But, perhaps a solution is achievable.
To 1 litre of water add:
By Apon Zahir
LS EDITOR'S NOTE
I do not like being an adult especially during festive times. I have given it much thought but it all boils down to one thing; stress and not being able to comprehend it or manage it intelligently.
For us adults, Eid now holds a different meaning; for once it's definitely an added pressure to the already miserable life you are leading.
Starting from wading -- for this year Eid coincides with late Monsoon -- to walking, because every vehicle on the road is always at a standstill, and cursing your way through the utterly collapsed traffic system, to accommodating the whims of a bored teen at home, to Eid budgeting and earmarking all your money for others -- and not to forget the almost abnormal workload to bring out the best magazine in town; unfortunately between all these pressure situations I have frazzled out this year.
I feel at a loss, I did nothing right. The permanent frown on my face tells you only half the story. The rest I will simply mention here because I feel I need to let go of all the pent up issues that I have inside of me; just so that I could enjoy my Eid breakfast of mejbani beef, crisp parathas and semolina with khirsha on top. But imagine how pathetic life has now become that Eid simply means what I place on my table.
Well I try to look at it this way, if I am to twiddle about my looks for the morning, afternoon and night, or count my eidi and hang out with friends at ice cream joints then my home will crumple down.
The hubby, who doesn't care two cents about how the fort is being held all through the year and festivals to him are nothing but a weekend, or the daughter who preaches green living and shuns the bourgeois way of life will, for one thing, feel let down.
Strangely Eid breakfast is the only time when they feel a tad hypocritical and a small tingling guilt nudges them to sit together and appreciate the flowers, the shinning cutlery, and the lace table cloth and all.
And I, the all-time loser, thrive on such moments when they relish the carefully planned menu and compliment the house help decked in all her finery. Yes I take pride in that too because amid all these I could bring her joy by presenting her that silver bangle she demanded even when prices are skyrocketing. Her happiness makes me feel upbeat even for a split second.
On top of that the mum and the mum-in-law both adding the mandatory pressure of must-visit-and-have-a-meal-together, and the disgruntled uncles of both the husband's and mine must be pacified by us having tea with them. Then you have to visit the sick grandmamma or an aunt.
Well these are Eid responsibilities that must be done.
And by the time I finally find time to catch a breath and feel like having a cup of coffee at some fancy place with the only grand that I could actually spend on me and which was in reality a left over in the Eid budget bag, I am faced with torpedoes from all sides. As if it was my cruel, vicious plan to make my family go through all the salaams and bowls of firnis. Just to let you in on a little secret -- when I cannot make it to the coffee place, I feel happy that those two spoilsports didn't have it their way either of spending the day shooting villains and playing Mass Effect part II.
Anyway, all in all Eid is no fun now, and I wish time machines were a reality; then, even if I had to sell my soul I would go back to the days when Eid was spent happily with Baba hugging me and taking away my sorrows and I was carefree and where adult Eid chores were never a probability.
-- Raffat Binte Rashid
By Shawkat Osman
The food that Muslims all over the world eat today is hugely influenced by the food of the Middle East, which evolved under the influence of all the Mediterranean (middle of the earth!) countries under Arab political influence. It is more so during Ramadan that Muslims all over the world break their fasts with traditional Middle-Eastern food.
The “spice trade” of the Arabs not only revolutionised the food habits of the world but also set a trend that changed the political map of the world. Bengal's aubergine, banana, lemon and sugarcane, Kashmir's saffron, Malabar's pepper and other spices, Sri Lanka's cinnamon, Sumatra's nutmeg, Africa's tamarind and China's noodles to name a few, are today's world cuisine's ingredients all due to Arab meddling
Before you start to cook prepare the two “masala” spice mixes:
According to this theory a Sicilian preparation such as “fish in orange”, would be seen as Spanish-influenced. But both Spain and Sicily were under Arab rule during the centuries before the rise of Aragon and at approximately the same time, Arab rule in Sicily ending several hundred years sooner than in Spain.
The Islamic civilisation of Spain and Sicily had many things in common, including a relatively closely related cuisine. Cooking fish with orange juice was typical of court cooking in 15th century Italy. The original inspiration for using oranges as food flavouring was Arab as we see in the naranjiyya of the thirteenth-century “Baghdad Cookery Book”.
Push the potatoes through a food mill or strainer into a pot with 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter. With a wooden spoon, beat the potatoes with the butter while slowly adding the hot milk. Season with salt and pepper. The potato puree should be quite thick.
Preheat the oven to 190 C. Butter a 9 x 12-inch baking dish and spread the potato puree over the bottom, right up to the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Layer the fish slices to cover the potato puree. Salt and pepper the fish and place 2 or 3 thin slivers of butter on each slice, using 2 tbsp of the butter in all. Cover with the orange slices. Cover with a sheet of aluminium foil and place in the oven for 40 minutes.
When the baking is nearly completed (when the fish feels springy-firm when poked), melt the remaining butter in a small skillet. Season with salt and pepper, and then add the orange juice. Cook over medium heat until it is syrupy, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven, pour the sauce on top, and serve directly from the pan.
Makes 6 servings
Upside-down rice and eggplant casserole
In a large skillet, heat 5 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat, then cook the onion until yellow, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the lamb, baharat, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp of the pepper, the kebab chini, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and brown for 10 minutes, turning the lamb. Add the water to barely cover the lamb and cook until the lamb is very tender, about 2½ to 3 hours, adding a little water to keep the skillet from drying out. Remove the lamb from the skillet with a slotted ladle or skimmer, getting as much of the onion as you can and leaving behind the fat.
Meanwhile, preheat the frying oil to 190 C in a saucepan. Deep-fry the eggplant slices in batches until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes, turning once. Drain and reserve on paper towels.
Lightly oil the bottom of a round, heavy-bottomed casserole 10 inches in diameter with a tight fitting lid with the remaining extra virgin olive oil and arrange the tomatoes slices on the bottom, overlapping or double layering if necessary. Sprinkle a handful of the rice on top of the tomatoes. Layer the lamb on top, and then layer the sliced eggplants on top of the meat. Press down with the back of your hand. Pour the rice on top and spread it evenly, pressing down again with the back of your hand, add 1 tsp salt, the remaining ½ tsp pepper, and the boiling water. Cover tightly and cook over low heat until the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed, about 1 hour. Don't check too often, maybe twice during the whole cooking time. The liquid in the casserole should not be boiling vigorously, so reduce the heat to very low.
When the rice is done, take off the lid, place a large round serving platter over the top of the casserole, and carefully invert in one very quick motion, holding both sides very tightly. Slowly and carefully lift the casserole. Serve.
Makes 6 servings
Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill on medium-low for 15 minutes. Form the meat into patties about six inches long and two inches wide. Grill until the kofte are springy to the touch, about 20 minutes, turning often.
Meanwhile, brush the nan with oil and grill or griddle for a few minutes until hot but not brittle.
Arrange the kofte on a serving platter or individual plates and serve with nan and sliced onions as a garnish.
Makes 4 servings
Add the garlic and harisa, season with salt and pepper, and stir to mix well. Add the beef and brown on all sides for 2 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and water. Stir, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 45 minutes. Add the coriander and cook until the meat is tender, another 45 minutes.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
In a large, deep casserole, heat ¼ cup of the olive oil, then lightly brown the chicken on all sides over a medium heat, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil to the casserole and cook the onions until translucent, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sumac (or aam chur) and cook for 2 minutes to mix.
Preheat the oven to 190 C. Cover a 9 x 12-inch baking dish with two rotis. Spoon half the onions over them, then arrange the chicken on top of the onions and cover with the remaining onions and the juices from the casserole. Cover with the remaining two rotis, tucking in the sides and spray with water. Bake until the chicken is very tender and almost falling off the bone, about 90 minutes. Before the top cover of bread begins to burn, spray with water again or cover with aluminium foil.
Makes 6 servings
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