Ramadan Kareem! As I leave Dubai for the summers and settle down in Kolkata for almost two months (my summer hibernation as I like to call it, and probably for a lot of Dubai expats as well), I am overcome with tremendous guilt. Guilt for leaving my adopted home for far too long and also the guilt for feeling excited and longing to update my nerves and soul on what I might have missed out in Kolkata in the last two years… and in effect cheating my beloved Dubai! Although, I have left the shores of Bengal for long, Bengal hasn’t left me. The more I have tried to be neutral about my roots and heritage, I have ended up seeking more of my Bengali roots, Bengali food etc. So when my friend and food blogger Dima Sharif, wanted to capture some moments with me on video, I had been utterly confused as to where I should begin. There were so many stories to tell – stories about my journey as a food blogger and how I am trying to showcase my regional cuisine to the international audience, how we are raising our two girls – the Z-Sisters, in a cosmopolitan city like Dubai and infusing a bit of Bengaliana in their subconsciousness, of course in a subtle way without overwhelming them with the knowledge of a culture that they are not growing up in. And then there is Mela, my Lady Friday and how both of us are trying to adapt to a new home in a different city, different culture, different country - as expats living far away from our respective homes and how our lives become intertwined.
If I write one more word, it will not do justice to Dima’s tremendous efforts in creating a video (above) in which I have opened up my Bengali kitchen and lay my soul bare with the dilemmas of expat living. You want to be international, and at the same time aware of your roots. The menu for Dima had been simple (I wish I could feed her with more dishes) but a very traditional Bengali one – Luchi, Daal, Begun Bhaja/fried Eggplant, Roshogolla, Mishti Doi/Sweet Yogurt, Aamer Chutney/Mango Chutney, Shorshe bata Maach/Mustared Fish and Masala Thumbsup! I took out all the Bengali cookbooks and coffee table books on Kolkata I had, and all the inherited family tableware, put on a CD playing my Ma’s songs – just so that I could create a Bengali ambiance for Dima. Before signing off, let me mention the significance of this video. Dima’s blog has a tradition and in her own words… Every Ramadan I have a Ramadan Special, which is daily posting of recipes and stories throughout the Holy month (30 days). This Ramadan Special, I am posting daily recipes and cultural stories to explore with you the Culture of Ramadan, its various colours and the now and then of Ramadan Traditions. About how and why she started this Ramadan special blog postings, she tells me… In the beginning it started more like sharing recipes. I knew that most practicing women like to cook at Ramadan, specially when the whole family is fasting the whole day. They are looking for recipes or inspiration. Ramadan to me is a time for self introspection, contemplation and reflecting on how we are living and how we want to continue living. This is also the time when we have a bit more time in hand and I though why not give back something more to my readers and give some ‘food for thought’. I thought of taking the Ramadan practices and incorporate that in my blog. At the end of the day we all have different triggers that inspires us and there will be something or the other that will connect to people, make them nostalgic, remind them of their roots or make them feel inspired. This year, she has made videos on each person that she has met on the path of food. I do feel humbled and honoured for being part of her special webepisodes. Hope you join in her special journey and mine too and enjoy the trailer as well as the actual video. And for those of you who have stayed back in Dubai, here’s a roundup of a few Iftars and Suhoors that you shouldn’t be missing and may your lives be blessed by the holy month of Ramadan!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
PS: A few days back too, I had created a Bengali Gourmet menu and I feel very privileged to have been surrounded with the love and support of media and blogger friends, including Dima. The event had been aired on Zee TV ME.
A few Bengali posts in my blog:
♦ Traditional Bengali Cuisine | In ‘Slight’ Details – An etymological explanation of my food-fetish
♦ Shorshe Bata Maach – Mustard Salmon In This Case | Shubho Noboborsho!
♦ Luchi Featured In Ahlan! Gourmet | My Ode To Phulko Luchi!
♦ Dilipda’s Phuchkas in Vivekananda Park | World Famous In Kolkata!
♦ Pickles | Mother (-in-law) Of All Pickles!
♦ Momos in Tiretti Bazar | The Last Chinese Remnants!
♦ Khichuri As Harbinger of Hope & Kolkata Soaked In Rains
♦ Firni or Ferni, Ramadan or Ramzan, Mallick Bazar or Karama | It’s The Same Festive Sentiment!
♦ Terraces and Beyond – Kolkata
♦ Shiraz Golden Restaurant, Dubai | From Lucknow To Kolkata And To Dubai!
♦ Rôshogolla (রসগোল্লা) | Bengali’s Own Sweet
♦ Stories of Love, Nostalgia And Memories – The Ingredients To My Cooking
Disclaimer: While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from this post. Please note that this blog is not a sponsored blog and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. You can catch my daily travel and food journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.