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Maa… I Burnt The Onions!!!

Maa… I Burnt The Onions!!!

Bengali Food

“The way to a man’s heart is through his tummy”, untrue for a Bengali, as in spite of physical and psychological differences, the allurement towards food remains constant in both the genders.

By Somashis Gupta

People who love to eat are always the best people, said American culinary celebrity Julia Child. One of the many reasons Bengalis consider themselves the best people. Globally, people eat to live. Bengalis live to eat.

During the lockdown, a friend from western India in love with eating out sighed loud. “Gone are those days. The trend of being a foodie is over!” he declared forlornly.  Concord prevailed over the cyber call – except the conspicuous me, a Bong. “Of course not!” I shot back. “A foodie will always be a foodie. No virus can change that.”

So what if the restaurants are closed? So what if we can’t go out? Just like life finds its way, foodies will find ways to satisfy their palate.

Sundays are always special for a Bong. On this yummylicious day, a full course menu is prepared in the house, ignoring the calories or the diet chart. Eureka! With the lockdown, every day is Sunday!

Talking of full course, only the Bengali cuisine boasts of it in the entire sub continent – to match the far off French counterpart.

Koha Mangsho and Pulao
Kosha Mangsho, not exactly what is the maid’s version

Now back home, with an elderly mother and a maid whose Kalia  becomes jhol and kosha mangsho becomes chochori, I decided to try my skills in the art and science of cooking. Voilà! My first egg curry! I was told to fry the onions till brown. I observed the miracle of Vibgyor in the pan, but the prolonged dilemma of  done or not done resulted in the onions turning black.

“Maa….I burnt the onions!!!”

So back to basics as of now “Dal, Bhath, Macher Jhol” …

An insipid layout in front of a squaddie is a deadly combination. It led to the inspiring call: “Try and try again boys you will succeed at last”. The call was reproved by an arduous me.

From an embryo chef, I gradually reached Chef De Cuisine, mastering the art…well almost. I went ahead rediscovering some lost recipes of the Bong connection. Like a true Bong who would enquire the horoscope of the fish he is about to buy, I went ahead finding out the history, geography and biology (which otherwise were pet peeves in school) of the dishes I made. I realized that Bengali cuisine is an enigma in itself, and probably an outcome of an interesting metamorphosed process of the land.

Goalondo Chicken Curry
Goalondo Chicken Curry prepared by the author himself

One such recipe which I tried worth mentioning is, Goalondo chicken curry.  A unique preparation which had reigned for close to 100 years but got lost because the commercial importance of Goalondo perished due to Partition.

The story goes this way: A train left Sealdah every evening around 5 pm and chugged its way amid a cloud of dust towards the frontier. The train would continue its journey to Darshana and then finally would terminate at Goalanda Ghat. The next phase of the journey would be a steamer ride to the capital Dacca. As the steamer sailed on the Padma River, the khalasis of the steamer cooked and served a sumptuous lunch of piping hot rice and the famous steamer chicken curry or Goalondo chicken curry. Long years have passed but the aroma of this dish is  distinctly etched in the memory of many.

I continue my eating spree this way finding and rediscovering lost recipes. That is the dedication of a foodie. And I share this with all foodies as an inspiration.

Say out loud ….We will not die down, We will not bow down, We will fight till our last breath to be a Foodie! May food survive! Amen.

See Also
sweet potato and oats tikki

Post Script: If we are not supposed to have midnight snacks, why did they put a tiny bulb in the refrigerator?

 

Ph0tograph of the features image and Kosha Mansho and Pulao by Tamal Paul

 

 

 

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