There was a time when if you talked about food it would always be closely linked to family.
Ma's chhanar dalna with its soft pillowy cottage cheese squares plumped with the sweet jhol, Dida'r chingri cutlet where the red-orange tail of succulent prawn peeked just so from one end of the cutlet , Boro Mashi'r jhol with gondhoraj lebu. Food was closely associated with family and recipes were mostly handed down from one generation to other, the secrets guarded zealously within boundaries defined by blood.
There were winter afternoons when that guard was let down and recipes were exchanged over fences and terraces, but those moments were rare and in between. Crochet patterns and knits and purls were more frequently exchanged than recipes. I think it was something to do with those times when the kitchen was a woman's domain and a recipe her closely-guarded personal asset.
My Mother did learn to make a variety of papad from our neighbor Jain auntie and once in a while something different like a Bandhakopir kheer from another neighbor but mostly what she cooked was what she had learned from her family. She also would try out recipes from newspapers which were sketchy and relied a lot on the cook's knowledge. Those were made with her own adaptations and so we always tagged them as ma'r recipe.
But now boundaries have expanded and we venture out to cook from books, television, internet and above all friends. Barring a few people most folks are generous with their recipes. My repertoire of recipes teems with N's jhaaler jhol, R's chicken korma, J's eggless date cake, A's broccoli pasta, S's zucchini chingri and so on. My kids often request for this mashi's chicken or that mashi's shrimp scampi.
Sometimes these recipes are more helpful than the original as they have more precise measures and adapt with the ingredients easily available now. Though not linked by blood these recipes have a tie of their own.
Today's Enchor er Kofta recipe is my friend Baishali's.
I have known Baishali from a time when we were unencumbered with social media and thus related obligations. We happened to meet through a common friend and the lovely, warm person that B is, she immediately invited us to their home.
At that time when cooking was not something that came easy to me, Baishali and her husband were cooking up a gourmet storm. I still remember the whole red snapper that her husband cooked and the baked egg she made on our first visit to their home. The food was beyond delicious and those baked eggs have been since made several times by the husband-man to rave reviews.
We still call it "Baishali'r baked dim, as in "Achha party te ki Baishali'r dim ta hobe?"