Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 44, Tuesday, November 09, 2010














Special feature

Spiced, just right!

Bilkis Ara Begum (40), a resident of Circular Road bought different types of spices for her Eid preparations for Tk700 from New Market. For Eid, she is planning to make two types of shemai, jarda, polau, rezala and chicken fry. So, she purchased elachi (cardamom), pistachios, alu bokhara (prunes) and jayfal (nutmeg). “Usually my daughter goes to Shopno to buy these goods, but this time around I am doing the grocery shopping because she is busy with exams,” she said.

Like Bilkis Ara, many women are planning and preparing food for Eid, which is a major part of the celebration. Generally Eid begins with sweetmeats like shemai, jarda, payesh, firni etc. During lunch, people usually have rich food like fish, meat and eggs. Women, the homemakers, try to make polau, biriyani, korma, rezala, keema, kofta, borhani. After lunch, sweetmeats like yoghurt, sweets and custard are served as desserts. Chatpati is also prepared in many homes as young children enjoy this dish thoroughly.

“For a happy, smooth and comfortable Eid, it is usually best to make arrangements for the necessary spices on the night before Eid,” Bilkis Ara said. This does away with a lot of hassle on the day itself.

It is important to choose the best spices possible ahead of Eid, since food makes up such an important part of the festival.

Red chilli powder, turmeric, coriander, ginger and garlic are the basic spices for Eid preparations. In the kacha bazaars, these spices will range from Tk 28 to Tk 320 per kilogram. Other important ingredients are alu bokhara (prunes), raisins, elachi, pistachios, almonds, cashews, cloves, white pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, mustard and bay leaves, of which 100 gram packets are available from Tk 10 to Tk 130 at superstores.

Agora, Almas, Nandan, Hat Bazaar (Dhanmondi 5) are well-known superstores in Dhaka. The popularly known kacha bazaars are at Karwan Bazaar, New Market, Gulshan, Mohammadpur, Kaptan Bazaar and at Thatari Bazaar. In the superstores you will be able to park your car without any trouble and you can take time to shop and scrutinise your items. You will get things in their proper places, cleanly packed and with accurate weights and fixed prices. On the other hand, kacha bazaars will give you fresh produce and they accommodate bargaining.

On a visit to New Market, we found that the price of elachi is Tk2800 per kg, daruchini is Tk170, labanga Tk650, alu bokhara Tk640, raisins Tk260, jayfal Tk640, jayatri Tk2400, pistachios Tk1700, cashews Tk650, panchforon Tk180 and golmarich Tk450.

Desserts are also inevitably a part of Eid menus. Bhagyakul Mishtannya Bhandar, Bikrampur Mistannaya Bhandar, Alauddin Sweetmeat, Muslim Sweets, Banaful, Madhuban are shops which have branches all over the city. The price of one kilogram of yoghurt is from Tk120 to Tk150 and the price of one kilogram of mawa is from Tk320 to Tk350. For better quality and varieties of sweetmeat, shops like Sar, Ras, Premium sweets are also quite popular.

By Mahtabi Zaman
Photo: Star LS Archive
Prices are subject to change due to fluctuating market conditions.

Under a different sky

Reading faces

By Iffat Nawaz

Late at night sometimes, when all things have passed and the remains don't speak of the abandoned, I go through photographs. Photographs old and new, my own face stares back at me, the figured out distorted angles that give them a more advantaged look than reality makes it hard for me to recognise myself. I sit measuring the amount of insecurity between the photograph and me. The distance I hold the photos from me, 1 feet, half a feet, 2 inches, I measure that distance but the disconnect do not get factored in, the pictures do not help me understand, they do not give me any insight to myself, and I turn away wishing I could read faces.

My eyes use to widen when someone told me they knew how to read palms, or tarot cards, or something along that line, numerology, astrology, what have you. I would sit extending my arm out to be tested, opened up, to be understood because I didn't understood, to be told who I am and what will I be, because I refused to remember. I use to relay on the lines of my palm, the ones I created myself with bad habits and hard and not-so-hard work. The lines which got created when I held my mother's hand while crossing streets, and the ones which formed when I made fists to bit up the boy next door who challenged me to fights. The wise ones read these lines and I looked at them with curiosity and stared at my palm with blank ignorance, forgetting my experience forgetting I didn't need a miracle or to know the future.

I stayed up nights reading books about after life and reincarnation. I wanted to create goose bumps and scenarios for myself. Who was I before I was me, the 30th wife of Akbar or just a tree in the Sundarbans? Was this my better life, or was the last one, or will the next one be the best? I would stay awake wondering about all possibilities but the present.

It's not that I have changed that much from then. It's not that my curiosity has died. It's just that my palms have been over read, no new lines have grown, and they grew pale even after being exposed to the sun. They are tired, not in the mood anymore to be scrutinised, to be handed some wonder. “No thank you” they say,” stick to the Chinese horoscope tablemats at the Asian restaurants, they are good enough! Stop thinking, looking for that special something, and stop using us for the wrong reasons!” they clasp themselves leaving me bewildered.

I don't show my palms to anyone anymore, when someone asks my birthday and starts to tell me about my sign and what I am like, I listen, though my palms try to climb up to my ears to close them, my eyes want to shut.

Late at night sometimes, I read my own face, my palms watch as my fingers draw outlines, calculate in an invisible calculator all the pluses and minuses. Late at night photographs show me all the miracles that I have lived through and forgot to notice, my palms sweat, my eyes water and I turn away forgetting again to live in the present.




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