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food

the baghdadi jewish dish that was created in mumbai and kolkata

the taste was sour and sweet, a smooth, compelling aroma filled my mouth and nose, the texture was silky, a depth in it. i’d never tasted a chicken dish like this before. i’d never tasted anything like this before. the first time i had chicken chitannee, i certainly didn’t think of aurangzeb, or the british, or dawud pasha, the last mamluk ruler of baghdad. the dense gravy, mixed with fluffy white gobindobhog rice wouldn’t brook any thinking. the tender yet…

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food

if winter comes, can motorer kochuri be far behind

food is so much about memory, isn’t it? i can’t even hear the words “motorer kochuri” without thinking of my mother. my mother was not a great cook, in fact she was never too keen to visit the kitchen. she had, however, the most discerning sense of taste and understanding of the various stages of cooking. she was particular about the spices and condiments she believed a dish called for. the balance of ingredients was important, getting the right inflection…

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Mythology and More

why the hanukkah story reminds me of madhusudan’s magic pot

actually, there’s no magic involved. both are stories of faith. perhaps the sort of faith that brings miracle. i heard one when i was a child, the other after i got married. as my husband, who is jewish, finished telling me why eight oil lamps are lit on hanukkah, i thought of a tiny pot of yogurt and the tale of madhusudan’s bhar. “bhar” means earthenware pot in bengali, and the sound of “r” at the end is more like…

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sarees tell stories

iron nails and camel dung

the more i look at the saree, the more it wraps me in thoughts. random ones that i can’t arrange beautifully like the profusion of hand printed patterns on it. i want to write a simple piece, i mutter to myself… about those nails and camel dung, but i can’t stop the steady stream of images and words: shadowy memories of things heard far away in the past, and some just the other day. cotton trade, american civil war, indigo…

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Espresso Shots

triptych

the fan fell on pishima’s head on monday. everyone remembered it was a monday because shome was on a fast. pishima always made fresh shondesh for shome with cottage cheese and a little sugar when he fasted. she flavoured the shondesh with lemon juice sometimes, or plain new date jaggery if it was winter. sometimes she added a segment or two of orange, after carefully removing the skin, pith, and seeds, of course. when the weather got warm, she sprinkled…

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food

how did the salmon get into the shorshe diye machher jhaal

if you’re bengali, you’ve probably grown up eating shorshe diye machher jhaal, or mustard fish curry. it can be made with many kinds of fish, almost any kind: large bhetki (bekti), rui, katla, chitol; smaller tangra, koi, parshe, gurjaoli; of course, prawns, even pomfret. clearly, we love mustard. but it’s made with special enthusiasm in the rainy season, the monsoon months, when the ilish or hilsa fish comes to the mouth of the river, the estuary or mohona, and its…

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food

luchi, anyone?

durga pujo is almost here, soon it’ll be dussehra and diwali, thought i’d share a recipe for these eat joyously times. luchis are lovely things. they traumatise all resolve to not even look at fried stuff, lose weight, eat sensibly and other such notions. luchi is a bengali creation (i am almost sure), a beautiful take on the poori, which is made of atta or whole wheat mainly. here it’s all maida or refined flour. the taste is delicate, the…

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sarees tell stories

muga and memories

there were always butterflies to chase after and try and catch; powdery colour left behind on your fingers as the winged one found a way to escape your clutches. not just the usual yellow and white butterflies. they were blue and black, brown with large eye like patterns, some had purple streaks, some ornate wings with frilly edges. in the reserve forest there were many more. and there were moths too. big ones, tiny ones, in the house, in the…

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road to singapore

with basement, attic, and swimming pool on nassim

the house was beautiful. through the trees and the railings, beyond the shrubs and plants in the garden, i could see intricate white plaster work on grey. pillars, walls, portico… i couldn’t get a look at the entire house, but whatever was visible had such an air of a gracious time, also it was so very pretty. i’d never seen something like it, the white work was fine and intricate, elegant on the grey background. looked like someone took great…

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secrets of seattle

Cruising along the South Lake Union to Lake Washington : Not wishing to get anywhere, only wishing to remain where we were

argosy cruise south lake union lake Washington seattle

Haven’t written in a while. This feels like a homecoming, but am struggling where to start. Ironical since the post title is about not caring where things end. I have had a miserable few weeks, at one point I even burst into inconsolable tears. Then, fortuitously the grey clouds parted. I found myself on a boat, cruising down the South Lake Union. The sun was shining bright (a bit too bright for my eyes), but there was a gentle cool…

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