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By Tommy miah

Hot coffee masala
2 cups water
2 cumin seeds, or to taste
1 whole star anise pod
½ cinnamon sticks
1½ tsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp non-fat dry milk powder
2 tsp white sugar

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, and stir in the cumin seeds, star anise pod, and cinnamon stick; reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the instant coffee, and allow the drink to simmer gently for 2 more minutes. Pour the drink into mugs, straining out the spices, and stir 1 teaspoon of non-fat dry milk powder and 1 teaspoon of white sugar into each mug.

Pan seared fish with Asian dressing
1 lb white firm fish
¼ cup flour (white, wheat, almond or coconut work well)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil (olive or cooking are fine)
2-3 tbsp Asian Sesame Dressing

Combine flour and spices in a flat dish. Dredge fish in flour mixture, on both sides. ("Dredge" means just coat it in the flour mixture.) Heat oil and butter in large skillet. Put fish into pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until cooked. Remove once golden brown. Serve with a side salad and spoon dressing over fish and serve.

Spicy Indian chicken with green masala
7 fresh green chillies, diced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp ground dried turmeric
1 tsp lime juice
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp plain yoghurt
8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced

Place chilli peppers, cumin seed, ginger-garlic paste, salt, turmeric, lime juice, and cilantro into a blender. Purée until the cilantro is very finely chopped, then add yoghurt, and purée until smooth. Pour over the chicken drumsticks in a re-sealable plastic bag, and mix to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.

To cook, heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent. Add the chicken and marinade, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the drumsticks are tender.

Laal Maas
500g baby lamb
100g onions, sliced
100g oil/ghee
100g curd (beaten)
3 tbsp onion paste
10 red chillies whole
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp garlic paste
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp garam masala
10g coriander leaves, chopped.
Salt to taste

Make paste of red chilli whole and coriander seeds and strain. Mix lamb, curd, onion paste, red chilli, coriander paste, turmeric and salt. Keep aside for 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat ghee/oil in a pan, add sliced onions and fry until it turns brown. Remove from fire. Add lamb mixed with spices and cook till oil gets separated. Add water in a pan and when it boils, put the garlic paste. Simmer until lamb is cooked properly. Add water if required. Finish with garam masala and coriander leaves.

Oriental crispy orange beef Ingredients:
1½ pounds beef top sirloin, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1½ tbsp minced garlic
8 broccoli florets, lightly steamed or blanched
2 cups oil for frying

Lay beef strips out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Allow to dry in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, rice vinegar, orange juice concentrate, salt and soy sauce. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Add more water at the end if necessary.

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Toss dried beef in cornstarch to coat. Fry in the hot oil in small batches until crispy and golden brown; set aside. Drain all of the oil from the wok except about 1 tablespoon.

Add orange zest, ginger and garlic to the remaining oil, and cook briefly until fragrant. Add the soy sauce mixture to the wok, bring to a boil, and cook until thick and syrupy for about 5 minutes. Add beef, and heat through, stirring to coat. Serve immediately over steamed rice, and garnish with broccoli.

Pista kulfi
4 cups milk
8 tsp sugar or to taste
½ tsp ground green cardamom seeds
1 tbsp skinned pista (pistachios), thinly sliced
1 tbsp skinned badam (almonds), finely ground (optional)

Put the milk into a wide, heavy pan and bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Now lower the heat and cook the milk, stirring constantly, until it has thickened and reduced to about ¼ cup. (This will take about 40-45 minutes). Stir the sides of the pan constantly to avoid scalding.

Now add the sugar, nuts and cardamom seeds, stir well, allow to cool.

Pour the mixture into kulfi moulds or small ramekins, distributing evenly. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and freeze until set.

To serve, remove the ice-cream from the moulds by running a sharp knife around the edges of the pista kulfi. Slip each kulfi on to a dessert plate, cut across into 3-4 slices, and serve.

Fish in mustard sauce
2 white fish fillets
3 tbsp oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 spring onions, chopped finely

For mustard sauce
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup milk
Salt as per taste

Clean the fillets and make into serving pieces. Marinate with salt and turmeric powder. Keep aside for half an hour.

Heat oil in a pan and put the fish pieces and allow it to cook by stirring occasionally. Cook till fish flakes easily. Remove and drain the fish fillets. Arrange in the casserole. Heat butter in a pan and add corn flour and stir continuously till it becomes smooth. Add milk and stir. Cook till it becomes thick. Add salt and mustard and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from fire. Pour the mustard sauce over the fillets. Garnish with chopped spring onions.


Reflections on Ramu: searching for secularism

What turns a man against another, who he has known for many years? Can the ignorant acts of a third party really turn one neighbour against another, despite his or her lack of action or say in the acts deemed so highly sacrilegious? The recent events at Ramu, Cox's Bazaar, urges us to address this question and answer it as quickly as possible. The myth of secularism has now been exposed and the previously-declared state of extremism has apparently reared its ugly head once again.

The fact that Bangladesh is a secular country is a much championed mantra by the politicians and people of the country. For an interview for The Hindu, well-known Indian nuclear physicist Homi Baba, back in 1995, said the concept of secularism will change. That seems to be taking place. The burning of temples and razing the house of the Buddhists, implies, more so than anything, that the separation of state and religion has failed. This may not be an open and shut case of extremism, but rather an exploitation of a people who fail to identify each other beyond certain features. It isn't just a question of a Buddhist or a Muslim, but also one of a Bangali and a Bangladeshi.

If such events took place in a country like Afghanistan, people would blame the Taliban and move on. But what about in a country like Bangladesh? Since our independence, we have been plagued by communal violence, be it in the Chittagong Hill Tracts or due to Bangladesh's contiguous links to other troubled areas such as that of the Rakhine state of Myanmar or with Assam of India. We have never really been free of such violence. However, the mass destruction of such age old relics has hit much too close to home. The fact that we, the champions for the cause of liberty and the right to be ourselves, have turned back on the very sentiments that freed us, is shameful indeed.

Now, we can spend the next few days analysing who was behind the faceless, cowardly attacks, or we can stop and question ourselves, as Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians or more importantly as Bangladeshis and as human beings. There will be fingers pointed, but regardless, the state elected to protect was the one who failed and they should look at themselves first. And when next our sentiments are hurt, before declaring our Jihad, consider the Arabic meaning of the word; Jihad is not holy war but rather a struggle. Let us not trust others to secure secularism in our country; let's do so ourselves. The communities affected deserve our heartfelt apologies. And so, we apologise because though we can't undo what has been done, we can make the future a better place.

By Osama Rahman
Photo: Anurup Kanti Das


Making a feline friend

Sagir U Ahmed

Cats are beautiful, affectionate, playful and intelligent animals; they make loving and amusing companions. Having a cat can even improve your lifestyle, bringing in playful moments, but you need to be prepared for the adoption process. Proper adoption of a cat or kitten is a primary and important consideration for any new owner.

In the next four instalments I will be discussing the adoption procedure of cats from the initial stages and delve into matters pertaining to healthcare and their overall well-being.

First things first…taking a mental note
A cat can live 15 years or more. Are you willing to take on the responsibility for caring for an animal for the next 15 to 20 years?

Be prepared to spend time playing with your cat, cleaning the litter box regularly, and grooming the animal. As they age, your cat may encounter health problems. Are you willing to administer medication to your pet on a daily basis if needed or put in time required for special care?

Although there are options of handing over your pet cat afterwards to any other friend/relative the answers to the above questions must all be in the positive for you to venture into adopting a cat/kitten.

Selecting the animal
Adopting a kitten or cat from your friend or from Katabon Pet Market requires special attention. Due to lack of experience, a novice cat lover may adopt a sick, under-aged kitten from a friend or from Katabon Pet market. No one wants to buy sick or disabled kittens but if no one buys a sick or disabled animal what happens to them? Please think before you make your decision.

You may know a neighbour or friend whose cat has had a litter of kittens; these days you can even see advertisements on Facebook for cat adoptions. Katabon Pet Market often sells both mixed-breed and purebred cats (with or without papers).

Pet shops sometime offer the basic requirements for a kitten, such as vaccination and de-worming but it will be up to you to confirm it by asking for valid documents.

A routine check by a vet is required before adopting a kitten from a pet shop or from friends/relatives. If there is any visible abnormality in your kitten or cat your vet will take care of that and make proper suggestions.

What to do when you find kittens on the streets?
Try to find out if there is a mother cat when you find kittens. Mother cats may be out for several hours at a time looking for food, so try to wait to see if she comes back. It is ideal that kittens be kept with their mothers until they are weaned (around 5 weeks old). Once the kittens have been fully weaned, the mother and kittens can then be spayed/neutered and adopted into a home.

If the mother cat is feral (wild), leave her with the kittens. It will be less stressful for the mum to care for her kittens until they are weaned. She may however move them at any time if you interfere with her too much.

Provide the cats with food and water every day. After the kittens are weaned, if you choose to place them in homes I encourage you to work with an adoption group.

Orphan kittens
If you have determined that the kittens are orphans, establish their age, medical and feeding needs. At this point, you must act quickly because neonatal kittens are fragile. Delay can be fatal.

Determining the age of a kitten
Under one week: Eyes closed, ears flat to head, skin pinkish. Part of umbilical cord may still be attached.

7-10 days: Eyes beginning to open, ears still flat. A kitten this age is smaller than the palms of your hand.

3 weeks: Eyes are fully open, ears are erect, and teeth are visible. Kittens this age are just starting to walk and will be very wobbly.

4-5 weeks: Eyes changed from blue to another colour and/or kittens have begun to pounce and leap. Kittens this age will begin to eat regular cat food.

8 weeks: Kittens this age weigh approximately two pounds. If they have not been exposed to humans, they will likely be feral and unapproachable.



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