Saturday, December 31, 2022

A Year in Food - 2022

Beginning of this last week of 2022, I was in a slump. Everything was fine but I was feeling a lack of motivation to do anything at all. I had this feeling that I was always running around and rushing without achieving anything substantial or even enjoying the process.

This is when I saw a blog friend Balaka's post after  along time. I went to her blog to read her Gratitude post but ended up reading again and again this one.  if you are young with a dream to change the world you might find it ridiculous but at this point of my life it touched a chord. I texted her about the post and she told me "Je bhaabe ja hochche...seibhabei ta howar...tai beshi bhebo na". 

Whatever is happening is how it was supposed to happen all along...don't think too much.



I am going into the New Year with a hope of being more accepting. I have absolutely no reign on anything in this universe except may be on my own mind. Rest whatever is happening follows the law of nature and all I can do is trust the Universe to guide me along.

On my part, what I could do is look back and be thankful for the year that was. So for the last two days, I dug through the food photos, and went through them month by month recalling the stories and incidents around them. I skipped all the sad parts, the not-so-great parts and I still had a year worth of delicious food memories.

I hope the same for the next year and the next and I hope the same for you too.

January 2022

When I browsed through my Food Photos, it seems January was the month I cooked most or at least home food was most photographed in this month.

I made Bandhakopir Ghonto with fish head and Sarson da saag with broccoli raabe + spinach.


January Food Photos

February 2022

February saw me buying a lot of  this fish called Branzino from Costco. I made Branzino in the Airfryer with Chettinad spices and then I made Maacher Jhol with Branzino. Like every year, I made Dida'r Gota seddho around Saraswati Pujo. I also made Joynagar er Moa for Saraswati Pujo.

I think I tried the TikTok trend of grated egg sandwich, did not like it and so made a spicy egg salad version and piled it on avocado toast.

For my birthday, my family took me to see Lion King and we had dinner at this Indian restaurant called Saar. The two things I distinctly remember from that restaurant is the Kathal/Jackfruit Biryani and the Shakarkand ki Chaat, both very new and very delicious.

One of my friend cooked a huge meal for me as a birthday treat and another made paayesh, it was so very special.
Feb Food Photos

March 2022

In the later half of this month there was lot of partying, eating out and delicious food. Looks like I didn't cook much or maybe didn't take photos of food I cooked. Loved the birthday cake made by @mybakebar.

I see I made Paurutir Doi Bora, Sabudana Khichdi/Pulao and a donburi bowl meal

April 2022

This was the month, I finally went to India. My original trip was planned for February but that trip had to be canceled and so April was when I finally reached Kolkata.

When I go home, there are few food items I tend to stick to. With little variation, I eat and order the same things every year.  The first meal was no doubt  "Ma er haath er maacher jhol" - a light, soupy fish curry with potatoes and Potol.

I had my usual fare of food ordered from 6 Ballygunge Place, Biryani and Chicken Roll from Shiraz and Momos from Momo I am. This time I  also ordered and loved this Bhetki Fish Fry with bits of shrimp in it aka Bhetki Chingri melbondhon – a bread crumb coated bhetki and prawn filling cutlet, from Koshe Kosha. 

Among the new cafes and restaurants in Salt Lake and New Town area, I loved Verandah cafe where we had a good adda with friends over Aam Pana, Gandharaj Lebu Julep, Chingri r Chop and Mutton kababs...pure bliss­čą░. My cousin took me to a cool Vietnamese place with great pho and momos.

At my in-law's place had Bel er Paana after many many years and from my Father's favorite mudi'r dokan I got bakery biscuits flavored with Nigella seeds.

Of the things I cooked this month but posted later , Chicken Yaktori and Chingri Malaikari with the prawns straightened with toothpick, are the two special ones

May 2022

I remember May starting off with Neem Begun for the husband-man, the neem leaves brought all way from India. We went to a Moroccan restaurant where I loved the Lamb Tagine and made a Chicken Tagine at home following a BBC + NY Times recipe.

By end of May, Big Sis was home for summer and we had a full house. Both she and her Dad got Covid this month and there was lot of quarantining and masking and recovering.

I  made Bhapa Doi for a potluck and then we went to Montreal and Quebec for a short vacation. I loved both the places and their food. I ate a lot of Escargot, a staple of French cuisine, where the snails are cooked in butter flavored with garlic and parsley. It was so delicious. We went to couple more French restaurants and ate duck confit and lamb chops. Went to Montreal's Jean Talon market, a local produce market and ogled at the fresh produce and flowers which I could not carry back.

Montreal of course meant there was chiffon like delicate crepes with crepe suzette topping the list .

June 2022

This month, looks like I cooked for our very dear friends. Summer was around the corner and you will notice that in the menu.

I ended up cooking more vegetarian items than non-veg and they were much loved.
⭐️Lebu paata diye Musur Dal
⭐️Motor Dal er bora 
⭐️Pui Shaak-aloo-Kumro -begun diye ghonto or something. Chopped some Motor Dal er bora and added to the Pui ghonto too. 
⭐️ Zucchini Posto
⭐️ Doi Dharosh 
⭐️ Aam er Ombol
The NonVeg had no meat but Dim kosha and Maacher Jhuro.
The mishti was a faux sondesh made with Ricotta nd Khejur Gur.

For Father's day, Big Sis made her Dad a Japanese omeltte Tamagoyaki. I don't remember what they made for Mother's Day. Actually Big Sis was not home around that time so I think we went out to eat! They also got me a herb planter, I mean I kind of forced them to give me that as a late Mother's Day gift:-)

June was very busy with LS's graduation from middle school. She goes to a different high school and so the middle school graduation is a big deal. They also had a middle school dance for which dresses had to be bought and hair had to be done and all that. All in all super exciting.

July 2022

Finally summer vacation started but the husband-man had to rush to India for an emergency. Big Sis started job at her college lab for the summer and had to drive every day to and from work, a new routine that she soon got used to. LS was mostly home, her last summer before high school.

July was therefore hot, slow and languid. I planted some pumpkin for mainly the blossoms and kumro-shaak. The Red Amaranth from last year came back giving us a bunch of Laal-Shaak.
So there was Kumro Phool Bhaja, Kumro Shaak er Jhaal er Jhol, Laal-shaak bhaja on the menu.

We went to our friend's home in Maryland for a couple of days and just relaxed in their beautiful backyard and had mangoes.

Sometime in that month of full sun, I made Tetul er Achaar (Tamarind Achaar) inspired by the tetul er achaar at my MIL's house made by the househlep. I made it following a recipe from Leela Majumdar's book and was shocked by the amount of jaggery and sugar that thing needed!!

The husband-man came back from India, with huge boxes of sondesh and kheerkodom from Balaram. I don't like korapak at all but ate most of the kheer kodombos which he apparently brought for LS!

Later in the month, I cooked for a bunch of friends. 
1. Rice
2. Zucchini Posto or Jhinge Posto
3. Lebupaata Dal with Begun Bhaja
4. Maacher Jhuri
5. Kerala style Egg
6. Kaancha Lonka Dhonepata Murgi
7. Aam er Chaatni
Among the dishes I made, I see I have a photo of the  Kaancha Lonka Murgi and Kerala Egg Curry

Towards the very end of July, I made Shrimp Saganaki and loved the recipe

August 2022

August, my mother arrived from India. She traveled with her friends but the first time without my Dad.

LS stepped into fourteen with a cake baked by her sister and luchi paayesh fed by Didun. She also had multiple birthday parties with lots of Harry Styles merch as gifts. To top it all, end of the month she went to her first Harry Styles concert with her sister.

I made a KaanchaLonka-Dhonepata Fish and also a recipe reel for the same. Little Joys of Life made a pretty sketch of my Begun Chingri and I made a recipe reel for my favorite oatmeal pulao.

Me and mom traveled to Texas to meet my uncle-aunt-cousin and my mother had her first experience of our chaotic domestic air travel situation.

September 2022 - Spain

This turned out to be the most interesting of all the months food and travel wise for me. End of August, early September, we went on short trip to Barcelona & Madrid. It was kind of last minute plan but finally things fell into place and after 20 odd years, me and the husband-man went on a trip without the kids.

I had two agendas for this trip - Gaudi & Tapas. The husband-man had his own two -FC Barcelona & Tapas. It was Tapas that kept us united through the trip and what delicious tapas it was.

Our first eating stop in Barcelona was at the market - Mercado de La Boqueria also known as simply La Boqueira. It is a public market - hot, loud and bustling with food and people. We didn't know that most of these places serve food, standing up at the counter and so we were looking for a sit down place. We found one at the fringe but the variety there was not as interesting as at the market shops and price was definitely higher. The tapas sold at the market was very interesting, from small paper cups of fried fish, slices of Iberian ham and cheese, empanadas to fruit juices, there was a huge variety.

In Barcelona, my favorite restaurant was Cervesaria Catalana. The first night we arrived there late around 10:30 at night and even then had to wait for 45 minutes to get a table. The food was mind blowing. I love eating a variety of food in small portions and this was just perfect. From the patatas bravas to the jamon(ham), gambas al ajilo to the spanish flan every item was a delight.

On Day 2, after our pilgrimage to La Sagrada Familia, we went looking for Paella. The streets around are teeming with restaurants and I chose one based off reviews from Google. The seafood paella was great as were the prawns in garlic and olive oil. The husband-man had made it a point to have his patatas bravas at every place and this one was ok.

For dinner we went back to Cervesaria Catalana, the food was too good and we needed seconds. This time around we tried the mini burgers (perfect size), crispy camembert, grilled mushroom and asparagus, churros, a very different bread pudding and some cheese-ham croquettes. I feel every dish tastes best when cooked and had in small portions and Tapas is just that.
In Madrid, I had decided on a restaurant to visit on our first night but  had not done any reservations. It was to be Juana La Loca based on Rick Steve's recommendation. When we reached the restaurant in old part of the town, we found the restaurant was tiny and spilling with people -- good sign indeed. However it seemed we had a long wait ahead. Miraculously and  I don't know how we got a table for two relatively quickly, but we did!!

Every dish in this place was delicious but I would like to remember two. The Tortilla De Patatas was delicious, a bit different from the ones we had in Barcelona. The potatoes reminded me of a spicy aloo-peyaaj charchari that my mother made with parota. The Rabo De Toro, a braised oxtail stew dish was an an experience in itself
Second day in Madrid, we finally did a Tapas cooking class at A Punto Cooking School . The chef was very friendly and we were a nice group of students - all in all a very fun and hands-on class. Over 3 hrs, we learned to make about 10 different Tapas recipes and also a bit about the culinary history and culture. Like I had no idea that Madrid had the second largest fish market or spanish cuisine never ever uses cilantro. 

We learned to make Salmorejo - a tomato and bread soup,  Bacalao al pil pil - Salted cod, garlic, dried guindilla chilli and olive oil, Grilled oyster dish and Patatas Bravas of course

They all seemed pretty doable and a lot of the magic was in the ingredients. 

In Madrid, I fell in love with Mercado de San Miguel with its multitude of Tapas eateries. The variety of fish on little toasted bread was to die for as were the variety of stuffed olives. I ate Olives like I have never have before.

The last day in Madrid I went back in search of Paella again. This time it was at Taberna Mas Al Sur after a visit to the art museum Prado. It was a lazy afternoon and as we walked the by lanes in search of the restaurant, the neighborhoods reminded me so much of Kolkata. It was siesta time and many of the shops were shuttered and the streets were almost deserted. The restaurant itself was in its slow break after the rush lunch hour and the waiters had all the time to chat while we sat at an outside table on the sidewalk. The food was delicious but out that was an adjective that came naturally to me when it was Spanish food.

Empanadas, Seafood Paella, Gambas al Ajillo, Ropa Vieja are some of the food items that I remember and the garlic oil that came with the crusty bread was something so delicious and very different from the olive oil and bread served here.

September 2022- Home

Later this month, the husband-man made his famous Moghlai Parota and I created a recipe reel as well as posted on my blog. I also made Fish Croquettes, Doi Salmon, Butter Chicken and Baked Roshogolla. All recipes are in my blog

October 2022

This month was filled with all pujos.  My mother did Lokkhi Pujo at home and made Bhog, Shinni and Narkel Naru. I also made a recipe reel for Narkel Naru. This was also my mother's Birthday month and I took her to Sarvana Bhawan for a South-Indian mini meal and then to our favorite Thai restaurant. She loves dosa, idly, filter kaapi more than anything!!
We got a lot of Bengali fish including Hilsa, Mrigel and Kachki. For Bhai Phota, Ilish Bhaape and Kachki Charchari were in the menu.

November 2022

November came with more eating out for birthdays. We went to Hwa Yuan Szechuan in Chinatown, New York  and had an amazing Sichuan meal. Also went to a restaurant called The Rats at the Ground of Sculptures where the food was good but the ambience best. At home Koraishutir Kochuri, AloorDum and KomlaLebu'r paayesh was on the menu for the birthday boy.

For Thanksgiving, I made my usual stuffing with sausages and after much deliberation mac n cheese

December 2022

This month Big Sis turned 19 and the day of her birthday was also the World Cup Finals. While she stayed at her dorm studying for finals, we hosted a World Cup watch party at home and cooked to celebrate. Turned out we were celebrating both her and Messi.

The husband-man made Railway Mutton Curry.  It was accompanied by Dal, Palong shaak ghonto, Butter paneer, Chingri malaikari, and Komlalebu r Paayesh.
Half time was a Ghugni and Kabab.

In the evening we took paayesh, butter paneer and chingri malaikari for Big Sis and her friends, who loved the food.

This month my Mother for the first time made pasta for LS and realized it is the easiest thing to make!!

While 75% of my family were away on winter vacation, me and Ma stayed back. Another friend came over to give us company during Christmas and we had lunch with Pulao, Chaalkopi, Paneer Makhani, some Eggplant dish and Mutton curry. Next day we went out to eat a shuddh vegetarian meal and our friend had the Kathiyawadi Thali. 
The friend taught me how to make Rostii, a dish I had never heard of before, but plan to make again.

We got drumstick leaves and Banana blossoms from the Indian store.

End of the month, an old blog friend Mandira came visiting and she brought precious gems of Khejur Gur and liquid Nolen Gur (straight from the source in rural Bengal), which I am tasting after many many years.

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