Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 7, Issue 39, Tuesday, October 02, 2012  | 




By shawkat osman

Jhol (sauce) for 'macher bora'
This is a handy way to dress up simple fish balls or 'maach er bora'. The peanuts give body to the sauce; the slurry will stabilise the yoghurt as it boils. An ideal party dish; make the 'bora' beforehand, and make the sauce just before serving.
½ kg yoghurt
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
10 green chillies, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp corn flour
1 cup water
3 tbsp soy oil
1 tbsp ghee
10 onions, chopped
10 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tbsp mustard seeds, ground to a paste
1 tbsp raw peanuts, ground to a paste
1 kg fish 'bora' (boiled/fried fish balls)
½ cup cilantro, chopped

Mill the following in a food processor/blender: yoghurt, turmeric, red chilli powder, green chilli, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Blend to a smooth paste and set aside.

Make slurry with ½ cup cold water and 2 teaspoons corn flour, set aside. Heat oil and ghee in a korai/wok, lob in the onions, sauté them until they turn translucent. Toss in the garlic, sauté for another minute.

Stir in: peanut paste and mustard paste. Cook, stirring all the time, for 2 minutes.

Pour in the yoghurt mixture and cook stirring frequently until it starts simmering at the edges. Drop in the cooked (prepared) fish 'boras'/balls, stir to coat them with the gravy and then add ½ cup water, stir again, and bring to a boil. Mix in the slurry, stir hard to merge and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro, cover with a lid and immediately take off the flame.

Maach er sami kebab
2 kg bhetki/koral fish
200g binni (aatop) rice
1 tsp fennel seeds (mouri)
100g poppy seeds (posto)
200g moong daal
1 tbsp ghee
2 dry red chillies
2 cardamom pods, gently cracked
2 (2.5cm long) cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
2 red onion, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp sesame seed oil
6 egg whites or more
4 tbsp soy oil

Heat a griddle, pour in the rice and roast them until they turn lightly golden. Pour out and allow cooling to room temperature. Roast the fennel seeds until they release their roasted flavour. Pour out and cool to room temperature. Roast the poppy seeds until they turn a few shades darker. Pour out and cool to room temperature.

Roast the moong daal until they give off their fragrance. Pour out and cool to room temperature. Grind all the above roasted grain and seeds into a fine powder. Combine all the ground items together and set aside.

Heat the ghee in a 'korai'/wok, toss in the following: dry red chilli, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Cook undisturbed for a few seconds.

Next stir in the following: onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté stirring vigorously until onions turn golden. Take 'korai'/wok off the flame and transfer the contents to a mortar/spice grinder. Grind them with two tablespoons of water. Work to get a smooth paste-like consistency.

Boil fish, until they flake easily. Cool and pick out all the skin and bones. Place the fish flakes in a large mixing bowl. In the mixing bowl with the fish, combine the following: dry powder, ground spices, sesame seed oil and egg white. Merge the mixture, add more egg whites if necessary to make a pliable mixture (as egg size varies you may require more or less egg white than recommended). Take 2 tablespoons of this mixture and shape them into patties 1 cm thick and 5 cm in diameter. Shallow fry the patties in soy oil, until light brown. Serve with mint chutney.

Til mach
Til (sesame) is the dried, oval-shaped seed of the herb, Sesamum indicum; they contain 25 percent protein. Til has a mild, nut-like flavour which intensified when toasted. Til was the first crop grown in Bangladesh for its edible oil (tel) and is known to be used by the Egyptian as a medicine as early as 1500 BC.

The little-known spice radhuni aka randhuni is used only in Bengali cooking and practically unavailable outside of Bengal and Myanmar. Its botanical identity is Trachyspermum roxburghianum, but it gets often confused with ajwain (Trachyspermum amni). True radhuni has an aroma comparable to celery and fenugreek. It is one of the five spices in the authentic Bengali spice-blend 'panch phoron'.

1 kg bhetki fish fillet
½ cup rice flour
4 egg whites, slightly whisked
2 tsp Madras Curry Powder
1 tsp + 1 tsp salt
½ kg yoghurt
1 tsp Radhuni, ground
1 tsp green chill paste
¼ tsp garlic paste
2 tsp mint (pudina) paste
½ cup sesame seeds (shada til)

In a mixing bowl, make a batter with the following: rice flour, egg whites, curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and randhuni. Transfer batter to a bowl.

In another mixing bowl, make a sauce with the following: yoghurt, green chilli paste, garlic, mint paste and 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk smooth and transfer sauce to a serving bowl. Spread out the sesame seeds on a flat tray and level them up. Slice fish fillet into long finger-shaped slivers.

Dunk slivers first in batter and then dip them in sesame seeds. Make sure they are coated all over with the seeds. Press the fish-fingers between your palms to firmly attach the seeds to fish-fingers. Chill the prepared fish in a refrigerator for 2 hours to firm up the coating. Deep-fry the fish fingers in hot soy oil, until the sesame seeds turn pale golden. Serve with the yoghurt sauce.

Photo: Rukhsara Osman


Log in Café

It feels a bit like being in Harry Potter. You stare at the gate, you look to your right and left and all you see is a typical Dhaka lane; next you put one leg inside the gate and then another and Voila! You have somehow been transported into a serene space. There are trees here and also a feeling of being in an old Pakistan-era house. You have left the fast-paced modern Dhaka city behind.

Welcome to Log in Café, a little hideaway which is, appropriately, difficult to find. It is situated in Lalmatia next to the Lalmatia Girls' College and it is a short-term respite from the everyday hustle and bustle, created especially for the students and young adults of Dhaka city.

Upon entering the café, it feels like you have somehow entered a little clearing in a wood or forest. The tables and chairs are made of tree barks and so is the kitchen corner and the drinks corner. A big tree provides you shade under which you can sit, sip on a drink and relax with friends.

Owner Nipu says that the 'Log In' in the name of the café is his own way of saying welcome to the internet generation. “Log In is the 21st century's way of saying welcome. We log in to do our daily conducts of which this café wants to be a part of. So please visit us, more so since we serve without a username and password,” he added.

As at the end of the day it is a place to eat, here are some facts about the Log In menu. The café focuses on hygiene and value for money when it serves you its cuisine. The menu combines popular Italian and American dishes, which are cooked fresh upon order by a cook trained by foreign experts. Nipu himself recommends every guest of the café to at least try out the Chicken Breast in Orange Sauce and Tomato Chicken Penne.

Log In Café has set up shop to serve the young generation not only with good food but also with a good environment. The organic look of the place is meant to refresh and soothe your mind while the fresh drinks and the food is served to rejuvenate your body.

Bring along your best friends and the good time you will be spending at Log In Café will be just the food you need for your soul. All in all, you will walk out of the café, re-energised and ready to battle the Dhaka life once more.

By Raisaa Tashnova



The floor plans of our homes are the blueprints of our lives. It may sound odd to say so, but one of the cheapest decorating tricks is to do nothing- or, at least, to do the absolute minimum. Many of us feel under pressure to make our homes a reflection of our personal style, so it's worth remembering that we are not obliged to redecorate a room unless it's ugly or really shabby. Rooms and furnishings are arranged to avoid conflict and collisions.

Clutter happens to all of us. Whether they are materials waiting to be recycled - piled up on the porch, photos that never made it into albums, old furniture waiting to be furnished, toys in corners shoes under the bed, unfolded laundry on the sofa, junk drawers galore, or knickknacks you inherited from your parents but never figured out how to display, clutter is part and parcel of every home.

This week's column deals with a studio apartment that belongs to a well-known ad maker. The interiors were decorated in a simple but functional manner with minimum furniture, abundant open space and a clutter-free ambience.

The colour scheme of the apartment is white on white, lending it an added element of spaciousness. It also provides something of a blank canvas for the lighting as night falls. We opted for formal living, dining, and entertainment corners in the same space. Since it is a studio apartment, we did not plan for a closed foyer.

In the living space we placed two simple low seater cushions, one chair, a comfortable contemporary red armchair and no sofas. We attached a removable remote control projector on the wall. We also installed a sleek white ceiling to hide the screen and made provisions for a slim shelf to hold DVDs and CDs. The floor has simple off white tiles and brown wooden tiles for visual interest. A different type of curtain -- the grey roller blind was used for living room windows to create a contemporary appeal.

The dining table is square with contemporary stools for chairs and it is the focal point of this open space. This customised table is at once appropriate for family gatherings as well as for creative meetings. We also designed a custom made built-in cabinet for tableware and china as well as another open shelf for crests and certificates.

Although all furniture in this apartment is simple in design, we were also mindful of the need for storage space. Since adequate storage is the key to a clutter-free ambience we designated the lower parts of all cabinets as storage space.

We also allocated space for the refrigerator, washing machine and water cooler by installing a sliding door with a wooden frame. One portion is glass and movable and the other is fixed with a straight wooden louver.

Our homes are our sanctuaries, but we do not live in isolation. Art and paintings always enrich our minds and homes and we livened up the space with meaningful photographs taken by Amitabh Reza himself.

The whole house looks neutral and natural because of the use of earthy colours. Colours drawn from the earth are comforting because they affirm our connection with nature. Brown, beige, olive and grey blend together in our homes as beautifully as they do in nature.

Interior Consultant
E-mail: journeyman.interiors@gmail.com
Photo Credit & Special thanks: Amitabh Reza


Bangkok buzz

The city that began as a small trading centre and port community on the banks of Chao Phraya River some 200 years ago, now experiences about 10 million international tourists every year. Dazzling temples, sumptuous food, kind people, inexpensive lifestyle, beautiful coastlines, cheap LED TV, variety of bags and shoes all add to the traffic!

Bangkok is a big city. It's important where you want to stay. Sukumvit is probably the most popular destination and the area is awake with Red Bull all night. Hotels like Le Fenix and President Palace are there, which are in the 2000-4000 Baht per day range.

Another area of preference is Rakhamhaeng where you can rent studio apartments or Bangkok Interplace hotel whichever one suits your requirements. They are quite economical as costs are slightly under 1000 Baht per day.

Food talk
Ramkhanhaeng is a great place to taste authentic Thai food. Most of the waiters don't even speak Thai so you will have to order from the picture menu. There are about fifty odd small shops, which sell healthy, delicious fare but somewhat limited in portion size.

Things to try here are sea food fried rice (pronounced sea foo fry ry), dishes with squid, chicken in green curry and sea food in red curry. They are quite wallet-friendly as all meals are under 70 Baht.

Fuji is a must-dine-in restaurant at Bangkok. You will find Fuji at MBK and many other places as it's a chain. Salmon steak and Unagi are among the things to try. The second dish is pretty much an unforgettable experience; very much like a sushi with eel and some cheese.

Sukhumvit Soi 3, close to Nana, has some of the best Lebanese, Arab, Indian and Bangla cuisine in all of Bangkok. Nefertiti is one of the oldest hot spots there. As the name suggests already, Nefertiti serves delicious Egyptian and Lebanese food. A must try are their kebabs and lamb khepsa.

Foodland is a 24-hour shop and will make any food you want in front of you as long as you can explain what you want. The American fried rice set is very good. They have a great collection of cake mixes, chocolates and cooking items which you can also buy from there.

Things to do Blow your Baht - Shopping
Shopping in Bangkok is an experience to thrill and delight the most discerning of shoppers - whatever it is you're looking for. From the glinting chrome and soaring size of modern, air-conditioned malls, to the hustle and bustle of its famously buzzing street markets, Bangkok has all kinds of places to blow your baht. With everything from antiquities and the latest pair of trainers to designer jewellery available, Bangkok has an exhaustive, and potentially exhausting, variety of things to buy.

This can be a tough task after so much shopping. Mahboonkrong alone can take a couple of days. Some of the more interesting places, especially if you have children with you, are the Ocean World at Siam Paragon and Dusit Zoo. Besides, there are fantastic temples where you can take your Facebook profile pictures and hang some on you wall as a token of tradition from Thailand.

River Cruise Visitors often regard boating as their most rewarding city experience, even though the 'Venice of the East' label barely applies any longer, since most Bangkok canals have been lost to road-building. Yet khlongs still thread through the Thonburi west bank and branch into the plantations of Nonthaburi, stretching on throughout Thailand's Central Plains, connecting rivers, rice farms, towns, temples and floating markets.

Route 66 is jumping up and down every night with a packed crowd. Very snazzy interiors, mega-decibel sound systems, dazzling lights and screens and popular DJs like Budda & Run BKK on usual weekends. Songs last for 40 seconds maximum.

808 the club can proudly boast to having the biggest sound system in Bangkok. Split into two floors, the upstairs has a smoking balcony, which tends to be enjoyed by the crowd, while the first floor is literally shaking as a dance scene.

Khao San Road has the character of old Bangkok but is populated with mostly Americans and Europeans -- clubbing scene is pulsating, diverse and exhilarating. The entire strip boasts some of Bangkok's most electrified clubs, with a hip and truly international crowd to match. Discover a whole range of setups, from Lava's dungeon-like underground music lounge to Gazebo's rooftop shisha bar with live concerts.

Way back
You will inevitably fall short of time in Thailand. One quick suggestion would be to just go through with it if you have any doubts as far as buying tangible goods is concerned. Before packing your bag, it's a good idea to take a relaxing massage and recharge yourself for a tough life back in Dhaka.

By Taskin Rahman
Photo: Taskin Rahman


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2012 The Daily Star