Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 6, Issue 45, Tuesday, November 22, 2011



Chronicles of Sam Q

By Sam Q

Dearest Diary,
I love watching TV and watching mindless TV is my ultimate guilty pleasure. But, the other day it got me thinking... how much did this television watching influence me and my generation, or rather how much it did 'NOT' influence us while growing up?

Let me explain.

I am sure most of us are familiar with certain scenes in most of the chick flicks or the romantic comedies, which we women mostly see. I am talking about how women react to being proposed to and how outlandish venues are picked for such an intimate moment, such lengths men go to make the proposals unique, then how the bride or the groom develop cold feet at the last moment and how commitment-phobic some guys are.

Remember Chandler in 'FRIENDS'? And my personal favourite is how the male counterpart goes into a liminal state with the stupidest rictus on his face, when they are told that their partner is pregnant. And oh! oh! Before I forget, once the pregnancy kicks in, the mood swings, name-calling during labour, the nail digging into the flesh just to draw blood, just makes me think...really?

This repetitive fodder, which we are fed for the umpteenth time has become so rebarbative that digestion of such material has become so hard. So you know me Diary, I am at my Virgo best, being critical. Not only am I kissing fifty, I am French kissing my fifties with so much gusto that I simply can't seem to tolerate any such nonsense any more.

Yes Diary, I am trying to make a point here. The point I am trying to make here is -- I remember me and my generation dating, I remember us being proposed to, I remember us getting married, I remember us having children, but for the love of God, I do not remember nor I cannot relate to all the things which I see on prime time television.

I mean it is not like we are from the archaic ages with no education and no exposure to the other more developed side of the world. We were all educated, exposed to the world, living in a modern but traditional society. So, how come we were so different in our actions and thinking?

When my husband and I decided to graduate from our boyfriend-girlfriend level to a more committed relationship, it was a smooth transition. There was no heavy duty thinking, no over-analysing, and no over-the-top proposals. It was like it was what was meant to be.

From then on, life took the normal route. He got a job. We got married. Had a child. Dealt with life.

Can't remember any of us making Valentine's Day a priority, or running away from the 'nikkah' ceremony because "I am still not ready for commitment", or refusing to give birth because husband is not there to be abused and (once in a lifetime opportunity) physically harmed.

I did not even know what post-partum blues meant. I could actually have had legal tantrums and nobody would have said anything. Uff!! What a miss.

Diary, I really do not have an explanation for why we are or rather why we were different, but all I can say is, take it from this old fuddy-duddy who has done that and been there, sometimes, less is more. Maybe now people know more, feel more, do more, hurt more, but truly less is more.

I hope I could make you understand Diary what I wanted to say today. Sometimes my garbled way is a way too off, but you are intelligent, I know you will figure out what I am trying to say.

Be happy, be safe, be healthy and mostly, be good.

Have a good day the Sam Q way!


Indonesian mutton curry
500g boneless mutton
2 large onions, chopped finely
2.5cm ginger, grated
1tbsp coriander seeds, powdered
1tbsp cumin seeds, powdered
Salt to taste
½ tsp pepper
1 cup oil
6 dried red chillies
Few curry leaves
225ml coconut milk

Mix mutton with onions, ginger and the four other dry ingredients. Marinate for an hour. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the red chillies and the curry leaves and sauté for a minute. Put in the marinated mutton and fry for about 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and cook on low heat till the mutton is tender. Serve with rice or chapati.

Honey burgers
500g premium beef mince
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
200g finely chopped mushroom
4tbsp BBQ sauce
2tbsp honey
2 red or yellow bell peppers, deseeded and cut into thick wedges
4 buns, halved and lightly toasted
Lettuce leaves
Cucumber sliced

Put mince in a bowl. Add onion and mushroom. Mix well. Add sauce and honey and mix well again. Shape the mixture into burgers, pressing the meat together to create a firm patty. Leave burgers in fridge overnight. Grill or BBQ burgers over medium heat for 15 minutes or until cooked, turning half-way through and brushing the tops with any sauce left in the dish. You can also pan fry the burgers if you want.

To assemble, layer the bun bases with lettuce, pepper, and cucumber. Serve hot.

Beef Bulgogi
600g beef sirloin
1 small onion
1 stalk green onion
4 mushrooms
6tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp crushed garlic
5tbsp sugar
1tbsp crushed sesame seeds
2tbsp sesame oil
1tbsp ground pepper
1tbsp white vinegar

Slice the meat against the grain and marinate in vinegar and sugar for about 30 minutes. Now mix the soy sauce with crushed garlic, green onion, crushed sesame seeds, sesame oil. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the meat and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. Place the meat on a frying pan and cook over high heat. You may add crushed garlic if you wish. When the meat turns to brown, add sliced onions and cook until meat is well done.


Barbeque grills

The crisp wind snaps at you as it swirls past in a hurry. Every step you take is accompanied by the crackling noise coming from beneath your feet made by the shrivelled leaves lying there stripped of life through the months past. The stars blaze with all their might in the velvety night sky with the moon glowing just overhead. As you pull your shawl tightly around, rubbing your arms, make your way towards the railing and perch yourself precariously on the edge swinging your legs along the outer side of the wall, the aroma of grilled meat mingled with the essence of charcoal makes you turn your head towards the sputtering fire making your delicious meal for the night.

Winter has arrived and the invitations for the barbeque evenings at your khala's, mama's, chacha's and friends' are arriving along with it. Although the past few years you have been enjoying the ambience and the food at others' houses you feel it is about time you were the one hosting the affair. But, hold on, you do not have a barbeque grill and you need it right away. By now it is very obvious that you will not have to bother calling somebody up and wasting your precious time in discussing what is out there in the market because all you need to do is read on!

Barbeque grills are very conveniently available in the city in every imaginable size and at the cheapest prices which means that anyone and everyone can have a barbeque party even if they are restricted in terms of space. You could even do your grilling in a tiny balcony!

If that is the case you would be limited to serving only kebabs, since the tiniest grilling instrument available out there costs Tk.500 and is a little bigger than the rice-serving bowls at home. Four or five skewers come along with the square bowl. These grilling pots exclusively for kebabs come in various sizes with the medium ones priced around Tk.800 and the larger ones Tk.1000; the skewers are locally made. If you want to make steaks or grill whole meat chunks using these grilling pots, the best option is to buy a grilling tray along with the set.

If you want your grilling pot to look fancier than the aforementioned plain ones and with grilling trays then the imported ones are for you. These are mostly imported from China and are available in different designs, colours and shapes. There are small ones, not as small as the Tk.500 ones though; these are bigger and on the costlier side ranging from Tk.3800-Tk.4000. Then there are even bigger ones which are quite tall so you do not have to keep bending over; these start at Tk.6000 and range to the huge ones at Tk.16500 complete with wooden platforms to keep your cooked food on. All these are available at the Gulshan-1 market and New Market.

The freezers are packed with 'korbabnir manghso' and apart from the barbeque grill itself, all you need is coal to start the fire which is readily available at Kawran Bazaar. And also do not forget the kerosene; that's not too difficult to find!

By Karishma Ameen


Diamonds are found in coal

The concept of junk shopping is prevalent in the west but in our country, with our growing consumer class, most of us just like to spend a lot of money and decorate the house with whatever the latest fashion in the interior decorating industry is. But the beauty of picking up a rusted big pot and turning it into a cookie jar or a side table (if it's big enough) is priceless; it must feel like experiencing the magic of Cinderella's fairy Godmother!

Once you jump onto this 'looking beyond looks' wagon, interestingly you will start to notice innovations in interior decorating with old stuff all around you. A brilliantly simple example of such a transformation is perhaps the use of coloured bangles to form light shades. All you do is hang about two dozen bangles around a light bulb and use a thick string to hang your creation. Light shades can also be easily created using the thin tissue-like papers widely available in any stationery shop and incorporating it with thin straws (to create shapes).

Then there are the many options for table substitutes. The pot table is one. What you need to do is take an old, big brass pot, give it a good scrub and a lick of paint and top it off with a glass from maybe your previous centre table. Voila! Your drawing room will have a unique Egyptian feel to it. Ruhina also cleaned old oil tankards and used them as cookie jars, her wall decorations involve a framed old baby dress standing proudly beside a classic painting and looking just as in-place as the latter.

While I am praising the creativity of homemakers, I believe my mother deserves a few words here too. She took a cardboard, dumped a bagful of broken bead necklaces, bits of unused laces and such on the floor and by the end of the day created three very different looking photo frames, each with a picture of herself with one of her children in them. These frames still outshine all the others standing on top of our reception table and have outlived many of the store-bought frames, because creativity is never out of fashion.

Everything said so far has been implemented by some person or another. This next paragraph, however, is pure brainstorming intended to help you unlock your own creative potential. Whenever you throw away old kameez sets hold on to the dupattas -- you can use a collection of these together as drapes for doors in the interior of the house or cushion covers, etc.

If you can lay your hand on an old analogue telephone or table top clock, GRAB IT, these are now antiques and will make good showpieces. Remember those old, long, iron tool boxes? You can use those as dry food storage (such as moori and chanachur) or as indoor plant holders. If you find those old cupboards with netted fronts, you can use it as a pantry after giving it a good touch-up.

A tiny roadblock to your creative journey maybe the fact that Dhaka does not have dedicated junk shops. However, there are second hand furniture stores and dump stores in New Market, Panthapath and the Gulshan 1 market area. These stores may look like a disappointment at first sight but as the title reads, diamonds are found in coal. Remember that the trick is to never use an old item for its originally intended purpose. Always use it as something it wasn't meant to be used as. That is the challenge.

A word of caution for anyone inspired by this article; to be successful in this journey you need to spend less in terms of money but a lot in terms of time and creativity. Finally to wrap it up, you have it in you, unleash your creativity and…..help recycle.

By Raisaa Tashnova


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