"Junie Beatrice Jones or "Junie B." as she is called for short, is an innocent, spirited five- to six-year-old American girl". So what ???
Because she is what I am reading these days, I mean "she" as in about her, books where she is the main character. You see Big Sis S's kindergarten teacher very happy with her reading skills offered to get her some books from her own childhood collection. Had it been my teacher from my childhood I would have carried home books about Mahatma Gandhi or Aesop's fables and made Mom happy. But of course S's teacher is not same and got her a "Junie B. Jones" instead.
All was well, nice school story, the kind I was fond of, I thought, until S asked "what is pasketti?" That word sounded so wrong that I read the entire book in one go. Truth be told, it was funny. But the English, it was absurd. The book was strewn with words like "flied", "bestest", "runned" and so on and so forth. Apparently the little girl(the character Junie) being a kindergartner has not got her grammar right yet and so the book uses her kind of language. That is very well for a Mom my age but what does a kindergartner reading such English do ? I had to constantly tell S all the verbs that were wrong in the book to not mess her up. This series is a very popular kid's series and I really have no clue why they would use wrong English if it is meant for an age group whose language needs to be enriched.
Trying to be "the cool" Mom, who doesn't care for such frivolities I haven't told S's teacher about my concerns and so she has given S 2 more from the series.
Couple of days back S shyly told D that Junie B. has a boyfriend. The Dad panicked, I could see it on his face. He was imagining boys, tattoo on their fore arm and misshapen shorts rising low on the hips, knocking his door. And then he told her what my Ma used to tell me at 15. He said "That must be just a boy who is a friend, like you have R & A and T in your class". Smirk, smirk.
I am desperately trying to be "the cool" Mom here but honestly why does a kindergartner need a boyfriend and a current as well as an ex and also why do phrases like this "new Thelma (a naïve girl whom Junie B.'s boyfriend Ricardo always chases)" have to be in a children's book.
Maybe I will just be un-cool and give S's teacher a "Suitable Boy" instead.
Books which S can read and I have liked so far are The Magic Tree House and The Rainbow Fairies(Thanks Chox). Any more suggestions for 5-7 year old readers ?
And now to the Ilish Bhaape or Bhapa Ilish aka Steamed Hilsa. The dish I had talked about in my earlier post, the signature Bengali Ilish dish which has to be on all important menus when Ilish is in season. Hilsa steeped in a pungent mustard sauce steamed to perfection with a liberal dousing of mustard oil is a sensuous experience. There are two ways of doing this, actually 3, in the pressure cooker like my Mom, in a steamer and in the oven.
I usually don't do this if I don't get Ilish which hasn't been frozen too long which is rare. It tastes best with fresh Hilsa. The oven version of this recipe goes very well with salmon too. Also I heard Herring tastes close to Hilsa so you can try this recipe with salmon or Herring if you don't get Ilish/Hilsa. Shad fish in North America has a taste close to Hilsa too.
The fish roe(macher dim) is a delicacy enjoyed by the Bongs and Hilsa roe is much coveted. This time around I mixed Hilsa roe with little chickpea flour and green chili and then fried them in mustard oil.
Get this recipe in my Book coming out soon. Check this blog for further updates.
Bhapa Ilish/Steamed Ilish
Step 1: The Paste and the sauce
Make Sorshe Bata or Mustard paste.
Soak 2 tbsp Mustard seeds(Shorshe) + 2 tsp Poppy seeds(Posto) + 3-4 hot Green Chilli in less than 1/2 cup of water for 10-15 minutes
Grind the above with little salt to make a thick mustard paste or shorshe bata Note: Some of my friends do not use Posto or Poppy seeds for the paste. Instead they add a little grated coconut.
In a bowl add the above mustard paste + 1 heaped tsp Yogurt + 2 tsp Mustard Oil + 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder + 1/4 tsp Red Chili Powder(optional) + salt to taste. Mix well. This is the mustard sauce you will use for the fish.Quick Tip: If you have a bottle of Kasundi, add 1-2 tsp of Kasundi to the mustard paste that you have made. This lends an awesome taste.
Step 2: The Fish
Wash and clean 5-6 pieces of Hilsa/Ilish cut in steak size pieces.
Step 3: Bringing it together 2 ways
Way 1 -- In the oven
Smear an oven safe bowl with little mustard oil. Place the fish pieces in the bowl in one single layer. Pour the prepared mustard sauce over it so that it covers all the fish pieces nicely. Add 3- 4 slit green chili on the top and drizzle 1 tsp or more of Mustard Oil on them
Cover the bowl with an aluminum foil and at 375F bake for 25-30 minutes
After 10-15 minutes from start remove the foil cover and bake for the rest 15 minutes open
Serve hot with rice. Does not taste that great if stored and served later.
Way 2 -- In the pressure cooker
Smear an pressure cooker safe bowl with little mustard oil. Place the fish pieces in the bowl in one single layer. Pour the prepared mustard paste or sauce over it so that it covers all the fish pieces nicely. Add 4 slit green chili on the top and 1 tsp or more of Mustard Oil on them
Cook in pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles. Here is a pressure cooker version.
Note on making Mustard Paste: When I didn’t have a small wet grinder to make my mustard paste I used to dry grind the seeds in my coffee grinder and then mix the dry powder with a little vinegar, salt, and green chillies and keep for an hour or so to prevent the bitterness. My current wet grinder(Magic Bullet) serves the purpose much better and makes a nice smooth paste with green chillies, and salt
Quick Tip: If you have a bottle of Kasundi, add 1-2 tsp of Kasundi to the mustard paste that you have made. This lends an awesome taste
Trivia: Hilsa is an oily fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids