Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 7, Issue 31, Tuesday, July 31, 2012




of the sea

Sea food, although unpopular in Bangladesh, is a healthy alternative source for protein. Low on cholesterol (the bad kind) this can be your staple on the iftar table. Read on for some scrumptious sea food recipes.

Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back to at least the beginning of the Paleolithic period about 40,000 years ago. Archaeological findings such as shells, discarded fish bones and cave paintings show that sea foods were important for survival and consumed in significant quantities even in that time.

The ancient river Nile was full of fish; fresh and dried fish were a staple for much of the population. The Egyptians had implements and methods for fishing and these are illustrated in tomb scenes, drawings, and papyrus documents.

Seafood is healthier than eating red or white meats that contain lots of fats. Every day Mermaid Café receives their daily fresh seafood from Cox's Bazar by air. Then they are processed at their café to get their perfect shape and weight and thus categorised.

"We only use olive oil to prepare the world class delicious and healthy food," said Chef Shahin Thakur of Mermaid Café. He was trained in Germany and the USA and lived there for about 20 years. Here at Mermaid Café, they believe in simple food preparation without too many spices so that the real essence of the fresh seafood and drinks are experienced by the customers.

Fried calamari rings
200g calamari rings
½ tbsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 egg
200g semolina (shuji)
½ tsp red paprika
1 tsp lemon
300g olive oil

Firstly, mix semolina, salt, black pepper and red paprika thoroughly. Next, mix the calamari rings with lemon or orange shells and egg. Put the mixture in a beater, beat it well, and finally fry it in hot olive oil.

Add your preferred sauce to the dish and serve.

Lobster thermidor
500g lobster
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp red paprika
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp mustard paste
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 egg yolk
50g Parmesan cheese
10g carrot chops
10g celery
50ml fresh cream

Heat the fry pan mildly and pour olive oil and butter. Take the lobster meat and mix with salt, black pepper, red paprika and mustard paste. Lightly cook it in the fry pan. Set the pan aside once it is cooked. In the same fry pan create a sauce with whipped cream, carrot, celery and egg yolk.

Mix the sauce with the lobster and serve it with sprinkled parmesan cheese on top.

Cox's bhetki steak
200g fresh bhetki, filleted
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
50g red capsicum
10g capers
1 tbsp orange juice

Take salt, pepper, lemon juice and bhetki fish and mix well. Put olive oil and butter in the fry pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, both sides then bake the fish in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Take it out and serve with capsicum and capers.

Whole baked red snapper
500g red snapper
20g red capsicum
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Cajun sauce
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil

Marinate the red snapper with salt, black pepper, lemon juice, Cajun sauce. Next, fry the red snapper with butter and olive oil. After frying the fish, bake it in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Place red capsicum on the fish and bake it for another 2 to 3 minutes. Take the fish out of the oven and serve.

Sea food platter
50g prawn
50g calamari
100g crab
100g bhetki
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp mustard Cajun sauce
1 tsp lemon juice

Add olive oil to the fry pan. Next fry prawn, calamari, crab and bhetki fish in the pan. Add mustard Cajun sauce to the dish and fry it a little longer. Add Thai chilli hot sauce to it to serve it all on a plate and serve.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Food prepared by Chef Shahin Thakur of Mermaid Café.


Food focus:
Munching in Mirpur

No one has ever gone on a successful diet during the month of Ramadan. On the surface, it does seem like an easy deal; fast all day and eat little when the time comes and that's your sure-fire diet, isn't it? Except, all is fine and well until the whole 'eating little' part comes into play.

Ramadan has much too much food and to prove it, we take a trip down to Mirpur, Land of the Banarasi. Owing to the large settlement of Urdu speaking people, Mirpur offers a fine blend of authentic deshi cuisine along with the influx of kebabs, chaaps, neharis and so on.

Therefore, if you want to break your fast in a memorable and more than filling way, its time to give Mirpur's culinary selection a try for iftar.

Sift through the numerous regular items in the numerous makeshift stalls and only then can you find the answer you were always looking for. Unless you are quite obese, because then, it's not the right answer you're looking for but rather the wrong question you are asking. Otherwise, once you look past the everyday items, you will be surprised at the hidden taste bud pleasers.

Your foray into Food Hunter begins in Mirpur-11 bus stand. Enter the market street and keep moving forward. As you move onwards, you will soon find yourself surrounded by shoe shops and this will be a clue that you are moving in the right direction. And before you know it, a rush of jostling crowds will signal your arrival at your destination.

On the right side of the road will be the famous Rabbani. That's your first stop. Go in and order a beef or mutton chaap priced at Tk.35, some plain pilaf, kebab for Tk.45 and ask for any “bot” (guts) that they may possibly have. Also, insist that they hand you their kitchen-made salad. Take some chapatis just to be safe.

Cross the road in the exact opposite direction. You will find a crowd surrounding a man who is busy poaching eggs. You will also see a sign that says “4 eggs with Masala Mashed Potato”-- Tk.25. Confused? Well, these are quail's eggs, much smaller than your average chicken egg.

And they are delicious, especially when you take them with the order of the spiciest mashed potato you have ever had. The dish is very popular and hence you need to wait before your order is completed. Also, you have to yell to make yourself heard. How popular is the dish? Well, one customer claims to have eaten over 200 in a single sitting, lived to tell the tale and come back for more the next day.

After you are done, go straight until you run into a very well-lit, covered van. It can be spotted from miles. This is a makeshift 'paan' or 'betel leaf' shop that sells many variations of your grandmother's favourite narcotic. Using honey, jelly, essence, gur, etc. these paans start from Tk.5 and go up to Tk.150. Or, stroll a length over to the camp's second entrance and find the paan-wala sitting in his stall, selling huge paans full of goodies for only Tk.5 per piece.

Look also for the road side lassi shops. The lassis made here are ridiculously good and from as little as Tk.20 . And now head on for the Grand Finale -- Shawkat Kebab Ghar.

Shawkat Kebab Ghar has to be one of Mirpur's biggest attractions. Their menu is insane and we mean that in the literal sense of the word. Shawkat serves Mishti Shinghara. What's sweet Shinghara, you ask? Well, must be something to do with sweet potatoes, right or maybe it's the coconut that fills? We don't know for sure but we love the look of surprise that masks the face of anyone who tries it unknowingly.

It tastes quite pleasant and is Tk.10 per piece. There's also the item known as Mogoj Kebab. What else can be that delicious sounding and tasting? Nothing, exactly. All under Tk.70, these are just two of many items that Shawkat serves, among numerous other kebabs, to please, awe and confuse, in equal measures. Hit up Banarasi street and Mirpur and try them all for yourself.

And that's not the only things that Mirpur has to offer. Take a trip and find your own gems for yourself. When fasting, the easiest way to kill time is to hunt for food which is to be consumed in just a bit.

By Osama Rahman
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Location: Mirpur 11


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