Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What a Bittergourd Kismur -- on Independence Day

Tomorrow is India's Independence Day and all I can think of is I am in 3rd grade dressed in bottle green or khaki or some patriotic color safari suit kind of uniform, apparently like Subhas Bose, and standing on a stage with few more freedom fighters and not been given a single word to speak as per the script. I look almost like Jeetendra in a safari suit except that I also had to wear circular steel rimmed glasses like Bose and my hair was tucked under a cap.

And then came the calamity. Nope, nothing to do with Netjaji's politics. It was all to do with our Dhobiji actually.

That shirt had 5 medals pinned on it by my teacher, decorations like the INA military uniform. I thought they were gold. The Dhobiji cared neither for Netaji nor for his uniform.

Don't think his lot had improved in any significant way after independence. This was the early eighties.

Everyone in our neighborhood considered him as several caste lower and though they wore the clothes washed and pressed by him, they were acutely conscious of not indulging in any other touchy-feely relation with him. So much so, that my very staunch grandmother would instruct him to air drop the stack of freshly washed, ironed and folded clothes on the sofa, in fear that he did not touch any animate or in-animate object in our home.
Sigh!If I had someone delivering washed and folded clothes to my doorstep I would hug, kiss and even marry him right away.

So anyway, when that Jetetendra, oops sorry Subhas Bose uniform was sent to him to be washed and pressed so that I could return it in its pristine condition to the teacher, he did not pay as much attention to the medals and such. He was clever enough to know they weren't gold. The result of his nonchalance was that of those five medals one went missing. And my heart stopped in tracks right there. My heart was gripped with a cold, dismal fear just thinking what my very Catholic teacher in my very catholic convent school would have to say on this. The British were long gone but I was terribly afraid of my crisp English speaking teachers, with names like Mary and Bridgette, and who I was sure came from some foreign country.

I don't remember what exactly happened thereafter except that my father had to go and meet the teacher and blame the Dhobiji, who thankfully knew no English and so wasn't summoned to school. For the next few months my position as the teacher's favorite was upended by my other classmates and I moped and lived in fear and never looked forward to Independence day celebrations ever. I rather stayed in and watched the flag hoisting on TV.

And then many years later, I went and got married on Independence day as it was the last wedding day with the last wedding muhurta for the season as per the Hindu wedding calendar!!!

I am sure that no-caste Dhobiji had something to do with this. Or my Anglican teacher. 😜

The only word to describe this whole situation is KISMUR. Yep, "what a Kismur", sums it all up.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Nandini's Nolen Gur er Ice Cream -- No Ice Cream Maker needed

Nolen Gur Ice Cream

Over the weekend, we had some deep discussion with friends, who are trying to learn the intricacies of Vedanta.
They shared pearls of wisdom like

"we have to accept that we have no control over our or anyone else's destiny"

"that we need to identify with our atman as we ourselves are Brahman"

Needless to say, I did not understand any of it. I mean I do understand but I cannot really internalize yet. For that, I need to meditate, my friends told me.

And then we watched the Russia-Croatia match. Since the teams I was supporting with all my atman had already bid adieu from the World Cup, I had nothing at stake in this particular match. Even when the winner was to be decided by penalty shots, I kept calm, which is very unusual of me. I get riled by penalty shots and at the Russia-Spain penalty shoot out, I was literally hyperventilating. In contrast, during the Russia-Croatia penalty shoot outs, I was far more relaxed and gently rooting for Croatia. It helped me enjoy the game better as I had little expectation.

And that is when my friend said, that I should watch life like a "Russia-Croatia" match instead of "Belgium-Brazil" match. I should detach myself from the process, accept whatever is to happen and merely hover over life without having too much at stake.

This I kind of understood-- at least soon after the match. To detach myself from the process, not expect anything and go with the flow of life. I can strive to do the best but I have no control on the results

Nandini making Nolen Gurer Ice Cream

Like say, my friend Nandini. I have written about my friend Nandini, many times in this blog and also in my book. I guess I have never mentioned her by her name and always referred to her as N, but she has been omnipresent throughout the blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Salmon Posto -- Salmon in Poppy Seed paste

Salmon was not a fish I loved when I first set foot on the shores of this country. I liked neither the taste nor the smell. The very thought of ordering a salmon sent me into bottomless despair. "What is this country where the fish does not taste like Ilish or Rui", I would often cry, my patriotic heart wailing for fish from my motherland. It is always about the food and the fish, isn't it?

I was convinced that my husband's Bong colleague who had gone about the office inviting folks in what sounded like "Plish come to my house, I make pish for you" was actually referring to salmon.

But then the only salmon dishes that we had were in the restaurants, which then were very bland for my taste buds. I was also not fond of the skin-on-salmon and had no idea that I could request the fishmonger to take the skin off.

But we live and learn. We adapt. We love new things and then cannot live without them

Learning from friends, improvising and experimenting, searching the web. we have now found many delicious ways to eat Salmon. It is one of the few fish which adapts itself well to Bengali style dishes like "Shorshe diye Salmon", "Doi Salmon", "Salmon er paaturior even a Salmon kalia. Our Salmon experience improved for the better when a friend suggested to bake salmon at a lower heat than other fish. It keeps the fish juicy, he said. And by God, it did. It was so much better and moist when baked at 275F.

Salmon is one of our favorite fish these days and we have it often

A couple of days back I made a Salmon Posto. Rui Posto is something that my Mother makes. I love anything with Posto and so to give salmon a makeover, I made Salmon Posto or salmon in Poppy Seed Curry. You can use any other fish like Rui, Kaatla, Bhetki, Swai or Tilapia in this recipe too. The traditional way is to fry the fish before adding to the posto gravy but of course I baked my salmon.

Also do remember, anything with Posto tastes best with white rice, so though the photo has red rice on the plate, if you have white rice stick to it.