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From Guwahati to Bangalore – A Birthday Story

From Guwahati to Bangalore – A Birthday Story

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A birthday cake and a plate full of basanti pulao and mutton for the birthday girl

On the day of love, a granddaughter was born, and for years, her birthday was celebrated. But for the past two years, the tradition was interrupted while she was pursuing her studies in Pune. This year, the family’s relocation to Bangalore reunited the family to celebrate her birthday. The matriarch of the family, determined to make the day special, embarked on a search for the necessary ingredients to prepare a Bengali feast, will she get them? Read the story to find out

By Ruma Roy

Do you know when my Grand Daughter was born? It was on the day the world celebrates Valentine’s day, yes she was born on the 14th of February. So on this day when the world celebrates the day of love, our home is echoing with the Hill sister’s composition ‘Happy Birthday to you’. But this tradition was interrupted for the last two years while she was away in Pune perusing her studies at a university there.

This year, things changed. She shifted to Bangalore to work as an intern there. Subsequently, we too relocated to this city leaving Guwahati behind which was our abode for more than 50 years. With relocation, there was a sense of grief within, but that grief was subdued as we were happy to stay as one family again.

Titli cutting her birthday cake
Titli cutting her birthday cake

Now coming back to her birthday, I decided to cook her favorite Basanti pulao and Kosha Mangshoand to give that Bengali touch I wanted to cook Nolen gurer payesh despite a birthday cake being ordered by my daughter for the occasion. But believe me, it was challenging, in this city, we were unaware of where to get good mutton, plus Juha rice or Gobindobhog rice for the pulao was also not available, and neither did I get nolen gur. 

But fortune favors the brave, so with a strong determination I and my husband went in a search of good mutton, but alas we found none around, so I decided to cook some mackerel fish instead and got some from the fish vendor. But then almost like a miracle, our neighbor suggested a shop that serves very good quality mutton. What was more fortunate is I came to know of a supplier from Delhi who could supply me with not only Gobindobhog rice but also Nolen Gur.

With all the supplies I was set to cook.

The menu

Fried Mackerel

Basanti Pulao

Mutton curry

Nolen Gurer Payesh

The Birthday Cake.

First things first I washed the rice and kept it for drying. Then I marinated mutton with sliced onions, ginger and garlic ginger paste, 2 bay leaves, salt, and mustard oil. Then I made slits in the mackerel and marinated it with lime juice, salt, and black pepper.

Then I started to cook the nolen gurer payesh for which I put the milk to boil adding some cardamom powder, and while it was boiling I fried the rice in a tablespoon of ghee and added it to the milk and gradually added the nolen gur. As a thick consistency was attained the dish was ready.

Once this was done I started to cook the mutton in a pressure cooker adding two uncut tomatoes. In the meantime, my rice dried out so I added some powdered garam masala, salt, sugar turmeric, and some ginger paste. I added some ghee and mixed it well.

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By this time my mutton was cooked, so I took it out skinned the tomato and put it into a pan adding Kashmir red chili powder and coriander powder, and some slit green chili. I cooked it further on a slow fire and later added some boiling water to form a nice thick gravy. My mutton was ready.

Next, I added ghee to a pan, and added some whole garam masala, once it started to crackle added the rice and fired it for some time. I added some fried cashew and raisins. Then I added hot water doubled the quantity of rice and cooked it till it was done.

After that, I fried the marinated mackerel, and all my dishes were ready. Finally, I added my secret ingredient called LOVE to all the dishes and served it.

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