Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 7, Issue 12, Tuesday, March 20, 2012




The perfect heels

Platform and wedge heels are very trendy right now; you not only get the height and style, but also get comfort. However keep in mind that killing your knees and feet wearing uncomfortable shoes is a definite no-no. Come to think of it there's a reason why Victoria Beckham never smiles just take a look at the torturous devices she's wearing on her feet.



By shawkat osman

Eggs are amazing in that they have been pre-packaged to keep. For our ancient ancestors they were a valuable source of protein and fats whenever they could 'find' them. The domestication of chickens, however, made eggs available all year round.

Eggs are remarkable as binding, thickening and clarifying agents. As a result eggs find themselves into a whole host of sweet and savoury dishes. The recipes presented here either have eggs as a central ingredient or show eggs centre-stage in the recipe. By the way, eggs are no longer thought to have a significant impact on blood cholesterol.


Mosla poach
(Spiced poach)

Poaching is probably one of the more difficult ways to prepare eggs, but also one of the more delicate and elegant. Unlike hard boiled eggs, fresh eggs make the best poached eggs because the eggs whites hold their shape better (so does adding vinegar to the water, which is a standard technique in poaching eggs).

In 1963 my maternal grandfather gave me my first river 'Paddle Boat' cruise, an over night trip starting from Narayanganj to Goalando. When we reached that small river port, a family friend treated us to a similar but simpler dish (following recipe). Both the dishes are also popular as 'crisis' food, i.e. when the refrigerator is exhausted and only eggs are at hand.

1 litre water
6 centilitre distilled white vinegar
6 eggs
2 tbsp ghee
3 cardamom pods, gently cracked
1 cup red onions, sliced
1 tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp salt

Keep the eggs very cold, until you are ready to drop them into the water. Cold raw albumen contract when it hits the hot water, thus allowing it to hold its shape better. In a large saucepan bring water and vinegar to a boil. Poach one egg at a time; first crack an egg into a small bowl. Using a spatula or wooden khunti, briskly swirl the water to make a vortex in the centre of the hot water.

As the swirling motion of the water is at full speed, drop the cracked egg into the centre of the swirling water, positioning the bowl as close to the water as possible.

Continue stirring to keep the vortex going until the egg's shape has formed. The vortex will force the egg white to encase the yolk, forming a spherical shape.

Cook the egg for about 3 minutes. Monitor the water temperature to ensure that the egg poaches at a bare simmer and adjust the flame accordingly. (Boiling water will make tough and rubbery whites).

Remove the egg with a slotted/perforated spoon and gently press the egg with your little finger to test its doneness. Poached eggs should have set whites and runny yolks.

When the egg is cooked to your liking, gently plunge it into a bowl of ice water. This will rinse off the vinegar and stop the eggs from cooking further.

Once the egg is cold, trim off any excess with a kitchen knife and lay it on a serving bowl. Repeat the process for each egg until you have all the eggs for the dish.

Heat the ghee in a korai/wok, toss in the cardamoms, and sauté for a moment, then lob in the onions, sauté until pale golden.

With a slotted spoon strain out half of the fried onions (baresta), and set them aside.

Dissolve the following in ½-cup water: red chilli, turmeric, cumin, coriander and salt. Add this mixture to the cooking onion left behind in the korai/wok. Sauté stirring all the time, until the spices release its flavour.

Pour this cooked spice over the eggs and sprinkle with baresta.

Note: Eggs with a visible blood spot on the yolk are safe for consumption. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife.

Kolapata dim
(Egg on banana leaf)

Kolapata Dim is an omelette steamed within a banana leaf parcel, and is a customary accompaniment to the rainy day khichuri. The cooking process aids the homemaker to cut the drill of making the omelettes separately, thus saving her the trouble to cook another dish on a wearisome day constrained by wet and soggy monsoons rains, it can rain relentlessly for days on end.

After removing the eggs from the refrigerator, leave them out, to get to room temperature. If a recipe calls for eggs at room temperature and you do not have the time to wait for them to warm in nature, immerse them in warm water for few minutes. The room temperature eggs fluff better when you whisk them with a fork.

6 eggs
2 red onion, chopped
2 green chillies, chopped
½ tsp salt
1 banana leaf

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, until slightly frothy. Blend in green chilli and onion, whisk again to mix. First, soften the banana leaf by passing it over an open flame.

Cut off the mid rib and slice the two halves along the leaf veins into 5 cm x 15 cm rectangles.

Fold each rectangle into funnel shaped cones (like a 'paan'); twist the pointed tip of the cone to seal it.

Fill the cones with egg mixture, nearly to the top.

Push the pointed ends of the cone into cooking hot 'khuchuri'; at the final stage of cooking, i.e. then the top surface of the khichuri gets pitted.

Cover the khichuri deghchi/pot with a tight lid, and cook the khichuri until done. Leave them wrapped, for the guest to open.

(Aubergine-egg scramble)

This recipe is from the village Makrail, (Jessore). The name Khagina (Persian for egg omelette) is unknown to the rest of Bangladesh; its presence in that quaint village is a mystery. We find the name: Khagina, first mentioned in Bisheswar Torkalonkar's collection- 'Pak-Rajeshwar' (1 Oct 1831). He claims that his collection comes from Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's Persian recipe collection -- 'Neyamatkhan' and Nawab Mahtab Jung's recipe collection.

This is an uncommon vegetable preparation consisting of aubergine, coconut milk, and eggs. The use of eggs here are similar to the Chinese method of preparing Lobster sauce. Though this recipe is included in the egg recipe, where the eggs act as a congealing agent, the bona fide protagonist is the aubergine.

1 kg long aubergine
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp ghee
5 cm cinnamon sticks, halved
8 cloves
6 cardamom pods, gently cracked
4 onions, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 cup coconut milk
4 eggs, whisked with a pinch of salt

Place aubergine in boiling water and cook until tender. Peel off the skin and chop them into large pieces.

Mash the aubergine pieces into a pulp with the salt. Set aubergine purée aside.

Heat ghee and oil; toss in cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms, sauté undisturbed for a minute.

Stir in onions, ginger, garlic, red chilli, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Sauté stirring all the time until spice releases its flavour. Add the aubergine purée, stir vigorously and gradually dispense coconut milk in a trickle, stirring all the time.

Stir in the salt and bring to a boil, check for seasonings add more salt if required.

Take korai/wok off the flame. Immediately dribble in the eggs stirring continuously.

When all the eggs are poured in and mixed up with the aubergine, cover with a lid. The temperature of the hot aubergine will cook the eggs to its right consistency.


Yummy Rolls

Situated in a sprawling duplex in Banani, Rollxpress has been a long time favourite for young professionals, expatriates, and corporate folks alike. Throw in the regular university students and you have a pretty chit-chatty crowd.

The café's spacious design looks much fancier than the actual menu, which is primarily composed of Indian snacks and meaty entrees with some vegetarian options. The hot spot of the restaurant lays clearly in its enclosed outdoor seating -- a rare space in Dhaka, meant just for dining. Included in the “backyard” of the duplex is a covered patio with modern cane-furnished seating that attracts some of the more hip, young customers of the neighbourhood. Their young waiters are usually running run in and out of the dining sections and are quick to offer recommendations.

Two items that seemed to emerge from the kitchen with great frequency were their rolls (predictably, given the name of the place), and the dahi phuchka. The chaat section of the menu is basically a fancier version of popular street snacks in the region with fancier prices than those found in our street corners.

To start, we went for the Raj Kachori, which our smiling waiter described as “one inflated dahi phuchka”. He was right. The plate in front of me was a giant crispy chaat bowl filled with everything in a phuchka, along with nimki pieces and sprinkled with cilantro and thick tamarind sauce.

The dahi used at Rollxpress is unlike anywhere else -- it is a rich white, sweet yoghurt that loyal street-food lovers may either love or hate. The mix of flavours and texture will definitely charge your taste buds.

The first page of their menu lists 34 different types of rolls, prices ranging from Tk. 100 -- 250 each. Regulars will use the dahi leftover from their chaats to flavour their rolls -- a good idea given the café's spicy leanings.

For the main course, we tried the Chicken Masala Dosa, which perhaps will offend South India, where it all started, for its non-vegetarian take. The best part of the large, crispy dosa was the green coconut paste on the side which was thankfully not spicy but rather calming after all of the flavours. The other worthwhile entree was the succulent, heat-infused Tandoori Mughlai Chicken with its strong pepper undertones, which paired well with the plate of jeera rice.

A drink is definitely in order to cleanse the palate after so much spice-intake, and thankfully, choices range from fun titles like the Lemon Rain or Peppermint Limeade. This brings us to dessert, the kulfi -- a favourite sweet item of the region -- was sadly, a bit disappointing. It was a watery pistachio flavoured ice cream cut into pieces and hard to eat with any of the provided utensils.

Though the outdoor ambiance sets the café apart, it was also perhaps the most challenging part of the dining experience. First, you have the mosquitoes which are in abundance. Then, near the evening and without warning, the waiters released dhoop smoke in the patio to combat the mosquitoes, which resulted in a coughing experience for some time. Though this is done for the benefit of the customers, the strong smell of the smoke temporarily paused our dining. I mean, who likes to look at their chicken through a cloud of smoke?

Our rating: 3.5/5

By Olinda Hassan


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