Traditional Bengali Meal thali to celebrate Bengali New Year

Shubho Noboborsho | A traditional Bengali menu for Frying Pan Diaries podcast

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark ∼ Tagore

Shubho Noboborsho! As we celebrate our Bengali new year 1425, here’s wishing others who are celebrating their new year too… Vaishakhi in Punjab and North India, Vishu in Kerala, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam and more. Whether you are a Bengali or not, Indian or not, celebrating a new year or not… I pray that each day we wake up to, is a day worth celebrating. For, every new ‘day’ is ushered by a new dawn filled with hope and new possibilities.

Arva and Farida Ahmed of Frying Pan Adventures come home to do their podcast on Bengali food

Yes, every now and then we wake up to some shocking news and shaken up by images of unfortunate events happening in different parts of the world. Sadly, they always seem to belong to someone else’s world and not ours, until the dreadful happens to our near and dear ones. I feel so helpless as my belief in humanity is shaken. And then the above words of Tagore, ‘Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark’, drills faith back into me. I suddenly remember the Georgian grandmas from our recent trip to Georgia – complete strangers to me, holding and hugging me, and feeding us morsels cooked in love. My faith in humanity is immediately restored. My belief is reinforced that as long as there is food cooked by human hands combining the ingredients of love, and connects people… there is hope. I see that hope everyday in my kitchen when Lady M and I discuss the menu of the day. I see the same love while planning the weekly grocery with the Bearded Biker. I remember how my childhood is now secured in the treasure trove of fuzzy warm memories and delicious aromas of my ma and grandmothers’ cooking. Special dishes for celebrating festivities and special occasions remain etched in my mind still. After marriage, the same continued as my shashuri/ma-in-law strived to make every mealtime for us a special one. And if a guest happened to visit us, heaven save them. Atithi Devo Bhava treating the guest as Godis something that we have imbibed from the time we were in the womb!

The Frying Pan Diaries Podcast on Bengali Food with Ishita B Saha

Coming back to the good things happening in this world, when the brilliant sister duo Arva and Farida Ahmed from Frying Pan Adventures, Dubai’s first food tour company (I have walked a lot with them in the alleys of Dubai and Sharjah… with the primary objective of eating of course!) wanted to make a podcast in their Frying Pan Diaries on Bengali food, I thought the best venue would be my home – we could sit around our infamously small but famously food-overloaded instagram worthy dining table… and taste the food too. What will be my menu? The last time I opened my Bengali kitchen for a media preview to Dima Sharif, it was a traditional Bengali menu. But the dilemma I always feel here is this… how many dishes should be included or rather safely excluded so that a person who’s non-initiated to Bengali food gets an elaborately fair idea about the richness of Bengali cuisine? Eventually, I managed to pin down a menu of a sort. The podcast is genuinely beautiful as it delicately weaves through the episode through what we tasted … from Shukto to Dhokar Dalna, Jhurjhure Aloo Bhaja, Cholar Daal, LuchiMurighonto…. Shorshebata, chingrimaacher Malaikari… Kasha Mangsho … Mishti doi and Notun Gurer Rasgolla. My ma’s Rabindra Sangeet in the background track… Rupé today bhulabo na… adds ups the emotional quotient. Although I have spoken about Bengali food many times over on radio, curated Bengali menus for a few special pop ups (at Bookmuch and once at Rang Mahal with Atul Kochhar), I have never felt so complete, sounded so confident or been so happy listening to myself. That may have to do with the fact that the Bengali tigress in me was caught in her own territory – in my own kitchen, talking about my Bengali food to the two sisters who I am very fond of, and who constantly remind me of my own daughters – the Z-Sisters. The passion with which they are pursuing a food business resonates my own passion, specially the urge to speak in an honest voice – notoriously delicious – as I read them mentioning me somewhere!

My menu planning when we have guests at home depends upon two factors – the occasion and the nationalities of the guests. For example, if the occasion is our annual Bijoya celebration, without any doubt I will be making a very traditional Bengali fare. The occasional culinary experiments inspired by our travels are mostly offloaded onto my family and close Bengali friends. But if a guest is a non-Bengali or a non-Indian, the menu tends to be pretty much a summarised CV from my encyclopaedia of Bengali food. There is also always an expectation of a few popular Bengali dishes like Shorshebata maach or the Mishti Doi. Moreover, my frequent behind-the-scene instastories result in friends and guests requesting for some dishes that they may have seen in my instastories… for example, the Kolkata street-style Aloor Dom that I like to serve as a Starter or the Middle Eastern inspired Begun Bhaja, the fried eggplant with yoghurt and fried garlic (picture below). When we lived in Germany, the menu for my German friends would be quite different – I always added a twist to the Bengali recipes that I was learning to cook, as those were my initial days of my foray into cooking Bengali food. The German Kartoffel Purée, thus, would acquired the Bengali status of Aloo Bhaaté, the mashed potato with a twist of fresh grated coconut, a tempering of mustard seeds and a dash of Kashundi. Or say, my phenomenally successful dessert Shondesh Pudding – a fusion recipe of traditional Shondesh and the cream caramel. No such menu trials for my guests nowadays as I have realised that I want to introduce or present them with authentic Bengali food, specially when they are tasting it for the very first time.

আমি রূপে তোমায় ভোলাব না, ভালোবাসায় ভোলাব।

I shall not entice you with my beauty, but with my love ∼ Tagore

Ma’s rendition of the above Tagore song weaves through the podcast and brings back so much of nostalgia. Do listen to the full track here and let me know how you liked it. And this was the menu for the day… if you are a Bengali reading this, I hope that I did justice to the representation of the vast repertoire of our Bengali cuisine.

Shukto, the Bengali ratatouille as I like to call it, served with shada bhaat, or plain white rice
• Dhokar Dalna, Lentil cakes cooked in gravy
Begun Bhaja with Middle Eastern Twist, fried eggplant with yoghurt dip and fried garlic (sometimes I also garnish the dish with pomegranates and sprinkle of sumac)
Jhurjhure Aloo Bhaja, fried julienne potatoes
Cholar Dal, chana or Bengal Gram dal with coconut
Moong Daal with fish head
Moori Ghonto – rice cooked with fish head
Chingri Maacher Malaikari, the sweet water Tiger Prawn cooked in a coconut gravy
Shorshebata Salmon, mustard salmon. Usually, this preparation is done with the extremely boney Hilsa fish, but I use salmon as there are less bones
• Kosha Mangsho, slow cooked lamb, although back home, this preparation will use goat
Tomato Chutney with dates and raisin.

Desserts:
Bhapa Mishti Doi or steamed sweet yoghurt
Notun Gurer Roshogolla – rasgulla filled with season fresh jaggery


Shukto


Begun Bhaja


Chingri Maacher Malaikari


Shorshebata Salmon

Bengali Tomato Chutney
Bengali Tomato Chutney

Arva and Farida Ahmed from Frying Pan Adventures at home

Do listen to the Frying Pan Diaries podcast on iTunes and iPhone or on their blog, subscribe to them and share the love. Frying Pan Diaries is the first food podcast from Dubai with a focus on food stories from the city and the surrounding region… and to reciprocate the love to the sister duo, they too are a notoriously delicious bunch! In addition to the dishes that I had cooked that day, I had also ordered a few dishes from the Bengali restaurant Zaika Hub in Al Nahda so that I could present a more elaborate menu to the Ahmed sisters. I have also mentioned the restaurant in the podcast. Sad to inform you folks that the restaurant has recently closed down… well, c’est la vie! As we sign off, let us pray for a safer world where faith in humanity may prevail. Let food unite us all despite our varied heritages that make us more distinctive and unique… may we all speak in the common language of food, compassion and love. Shubho Noborsho to all of you… may our celebrations lent themselves to your celebrations as we harvest love and hope for tomorrow and the days to come, for people all around the world. Coming back to my safe haven, we mostly cook up the whole Bengali universe in our kitchen – starting from shukto to murighonto. But apparently, that’s only when we have guests! To be fair, that’s not completely untrue… so the million dollar (or chingri malaikari worth of) question that needs to be addressed first and foremost tomorrow morning – what will the menu be at home for the night!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

PS: Also sharing my thoughts that came out in Gulf News a few days back on the essence of being a Bengali in the wake of the recent disturbances in Bengal – it seems quite relevant with our Noboborsho wishes hoping for a bright future. The Bengali Mishti and Maach never fought over religion or borders, so why should the people? Do read the full story here.

Disclaimer: All images are shot by me, excepting the ones with Frying Pan logos, which have been shared with me by the Frying Pan Adventures. This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all my bills have been self paid. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. Do join me on my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitterand Pinterest.


Do try out these Bengali recipes from my blog:
Shorshe Bata Maach – Mustard Salmon In This Case
Spicy Baby Potatoes or Aloor Dum – Kolkata Street Style!
Mashed Potato Bengali Style/ Aloo Bhaaté
Luchi Featured In Ahlan! Gourmet | My Ode To Phulko Luchi!
Bhapa Mishti Doi and A Food Safari of Bengal | BBC GoodFood ME
Notun Gurer Payesh/Traditional Bengali Rice Pudding | Remembering My Dida
Payesh or Rice Pudding For My Birthday | Power of Gratitude Messages
Shondesh/Sandesh Pudding | Guest Post For Cook Like A Bong!

And if you are interested in reading more on Bengali food in my blog:
A-Z of Bengali Fish
Traditional Bengali Cuisine | In ‘Slight’ Details

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Chittoda's Dokan in Dacres Lane with BBC Travel Show UK

Dacres Lane | Introducing Kolkata street food in BBC Travel Show UK

Good food is very often, even most often, simple food. ~ Anthony Bourdain

I believe that the heroes of each para or locality in Kolkata are… the phuchkawalas, jhalmuriwalas ~ the saviours of the city’s delicious street food culture. Just like Dilipda in Vivekananada Park, whose phuchkas have marked almost my every adolescent escapade, be it a breakup or a disastrous school report. Hail, rain or storm, you can find these unsung heroes everyday at their designated places feeding hundreds of dissatisfied street food addicts. Dissatisfied, because you will never find a satisfied customer when gorging on street food. There is always a feeling of something missing – either the salt or some spice, or the tanginess in the tamarind chutney or the crispiness of the phuchkas. And this eternal dissatisfaction leads to regular visits to one’s favourite roadside food stall. There is also this eternal trying to get hold of the ‘secret formula’ that goes into the customised ‘bite’ dictated by an individual’s taste buds. While I like to believe that the secret of not falling sick when you eat on the streets is to ‘believe’ that there’s nothing wrong with the food, there’s a bit more of logistics that one needs to adhere to – avoiding old dips and chutneys or making sure that the water used is safe. Also, sticking to popular places or those which are crowded makes sense, where the food turn around is prompt. Last year around this time, I had the honour of presenting Kolkata’s street food to Benjamin Zand for the BBC Travel Show (the link above opens up to the Kolkata episode). August in Kolkata is dedicated to the rain gods and is definitely not the best time to showcase dips and chutneys, specially from roadside food stalls and that too to westerners. However, fate had other things in store for me. Keith Wallace, director with the BBC Travel Show shared his brief with me… “we’ve had loads of suggestions for the street food in Decker’s/Dacre’s Lane, and we’re looking for someone who can tell us what all the food are, but also give us tips on food safety/hygiene, as I guess many westerners would be anxious about trying street good in India. It would be great to allay fears AND show off the street food”. And I did the honours!

Presenting Kolkata's street food by presenting Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane with BBC Travel Show UKBenjamin 'Ben' Zand is a British-Iranian journalist and filmmaker for the BBC Travel ShowBenjamin ‘Ben’ Zand is a British-Iranian journalist and filmmaker for The BBC Travel Show

Keith Wallace, Director BBC Travel ShowKeith Wallace, Director BBC Travel Show

Presenting Kolkata's street food by presenting Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane with BBC Travel Show UKPresenting Kolkata's street food by presenting Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane with BBC Travel Show UKI was initially asked to wear a sari which I felt would be a bit too much considering that we were going to showcase street food. I did however resort to a kurta embroidered in traditional kantha-stitch, just to keep the Kolkata and the Bengal story going.

To be honest, Dacres Lane wasn’t my first choice for showcasing Kolkata’s street food considering it now faced a bit of dilapidation, although one can’t deny the fact that this stretch was still a heritage in the city’s street food landscape – a decaying heritage much like the city’s personal story. The show was based on social media suggestions and Dacres Lane outweighed all the other options. On the destined day, the rain gods thankfully didn’t play foul and we managed to taste all the signature dishes in the legendary Chittobabur Dokan. This entire lane off Esplanade is still strewn with restaurants and food stalls dating back to more than five decades with Chittobabur Dokan holding centre stage. We had their signature fish roll, ghugni, chicken stew with toasted pauruti and also the monsoon special khichuri combo. The latter priced at a mere Rs 25/plate and comprising with a runny khichuri, beguni, a cabbage torkari, papad, chutney and payesh is testimony to the fact that the Bengali sentiments for khichuri is more than just a tummy satisfying meal. It is commendable that all these sentiments were being upheld in the Khichuri served here, even though it had a humble pricing. Chittobabur Dokan is an eating hole in the office district and still boasts of a few regular diners who have been visiting the place for the last 40 years! Ditch the air-conditioned seating in Suruchee, a modern day expansion of the original food stall further down and opt for the outdoor benches in front of the original one instead. You may have to balance your lunch on the steel tray, but do concentrate on the simple flavours of the food. The stew screams comfort and deliciousness. The light gravy may look bland, but it’s strong in flavours, specially the piece of papaya and carrot that comes in a plate with the generous piece of chicken or the mutton. It’s humble and comforting and even the not-s0-overcooked-but-just-rightly-done papaya explains why regulars have been flocking here during the lunchtime for decades. This is as good as a tiffin brought in from home. Coming back to the legendary fish rolls – once you bite through the bread crumbs and a subtle layer of kashundi, the fish filling breaks easily into flakes, as is desired from a fresh catch of bhetki (and not its substitute basa). Ignoring an occasional car hooting through the narrow lane through the crowd or the rain water held by the tented ceiling above (in case it rains) may be difficult for some, but these things find their own steam and balance in cities like Kolkata!

Fish roll and pauruti toast in the legendary Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres LaneFish roll and pauruti toast in the legendary Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane

Chicken stew and pauruti toast in the legendary Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres LaneChicken stew and pauruti toast in the legendary Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane

The khichuri lunch at Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres LaneThe special monsoon combo – khichuri lunch at Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane

Chai-making in Chittobabur Dokan is a constant storytelling. More than 400 cups of chai are made in a day and once washed, each cup and saucer goes under boiling water.

Chai in Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane with BBC Travel Show UKPresenting Kolkata's street food by presenting Sharma's in Dacres Lane with BBC Travel Show UKThe famous lassi at Sharma’s in Dacres Lane (just beside Chittobabur Dokan)

The Recce… a day earlier

When I am in Kolkata, I am spoilt rotten by my dear friend Milon who makes sure that all my desires on my Kolkata food bucket list are ticked off. Be it the Icecream Sodas, one of my childhood favourites that used to be available at different clubs in Kolkata and manufactured by Bijoli Grill and now almost extinct (he gets me cartons of bottles straight from the Cotton’s factory) to Mitra Cafe’s fish fry, his contribution to my food story writing is immense. Coming from a bonedi family in North Kolkata, he’s got his pulses in the city’s food scene like no other friend of mine. Whether it is to suggest the fusion Bengali restaurant Bohemian or bringing signature items from popular centenarian restaurants over to his place for dinner so that I don’t have to run across the different restaurants, Milon is on real adrenaline when it comes to food. On my recce to Dacres Lane before the actual shoot, he even lent me his father who has been diligently having his lunch in Dacres Lane for the last few decades. Although a real foodie, my friend refused to join us in our lunch explorations lunch in these roadside food stalls (his aristocratic demeanour prevents him from doing so, I think). Meshomoshai very generously guided us through his favourites from this place sharing his few decades long stories. Although there are many new restaurants which have mushroomed along this stretch, his loyalty over Chittobabu’s Dokan hasn’t swerved a bit. His favourite from the menu is the Diamond Fish Cutlet, which required pre-ordering – and for which we will have to revisit Dacres Lane again.

The legendary Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres LaneThe nephew of the legendary ChittobabuThe nephew of the legendary Chittobabu. He runs the business now and is pretty adept at handling media and camera.

Presenting Kolkata's street food by presenting Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane with BBC Travel Show UKSumitava Saha aka Neil, our nephew and photographer assistant (left) and Mesho (middle)

Sumitava Saha aka Neil, my nephew and photographer assistant

Meshomoshai having his regular lunch of chciken stew and paurutiMeshomoshai having his regular lunch of chicken stew and pauruti

Presenting Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane to BBC Travel Show UK
Do watch the full episode to see Benjamin in my city wresting in a traditional aakhra, visit the kaleidoscopic Kolutola bazaar, play football on the streets in a North Kolkata ‘para’ and more.
Milon, Sumitava thanks for helping me with the recce (Milon, for lending your gracious dad for our lunch exploration), Amit and Rupanjali for sharing some amazing clicks; and finally Keith and Benjamin for embracing my city!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Presenting Kolkata's street food by presenting Chittobabur Dokan in Dacres Lane with BBC Travel Show UKThe fully loaded groupfie with Keith Wallace and Benjamin Zand of BBC Travel Show team and Amit Dhar and Rupanjali Chatterjee who had been the most helpful fixers for our Kolkata story

Pssst: I have been shortlisted for the BBC GoodFood Awards ME 2017 under the ‘Food Influencer’ category. Do cast your votes for me!

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. Do join me on my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Read my friends’ write ups on Dacres Lane:

Bhapa Mishti Doi and A Food Safari of Bengal | BBC GoodFood ME

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Eid Mubarak and Shubho Bijoya to all of you! Born a Hindu and brought up embracing all faiths, I am always amazed to find how different festivals from different faiths almost always coincide with each other – as if underlining my belief that we are ultimately bound by only one faith – that of humanity. It is all destined. Much like how my feature on a Food Safari of Bengal in BBC GoodFood Middle East’s 7th Anniversary Bumper issue coincided with the timing of writing a blog post on Bhapa Mishti Doi or the traditional steamed sweet yoghurt. I have been penning this down several times but it never got finished. I was determined to publish it during Eid and Bijoya. The latter is the culmination of the 5 day long autumn festival that surrounds around Durga Pujo – the most important festival for the Bengalis world wide. Every year, around this time, I anxiously wait for the Facebook uploads from our Bengali friends and family living around the world for an annual update on food and fashion ideas that are born during the Durga Pujo! This time, my brother led me through a journey of ‘Pandal hopping’ in Kolkata. He also shared his experiences of witnessing the Bishorjon or the immersion of idols in the River Ichamati – along the borders of India and Bangladesh, under the strict vigilance of the Border Security Forces. All via Whatsapp (I have shared the gallery below)!

Food Safari of Bengal in BBC GoodFood ME

Food Safari of Bengal in BBC Good Food Middle East, October issue: The article chalks out my childhood, my food and travel memories and Bengali cuisine, followed by the recipes of Bhapa Mishti Doi and Shorshe Bata Salmon or the Mustard Salmon (another version of the Mustard Salmon – with French mustard paste – in my blog). Both dishes are legendary *items* in Bengali Cuisine (obviously not the Mustard Salmon, but Mustard fish), although it doesn’t encompass all that Bengali Cuisine has to offer. If you are so interested, take a look at my post on what I often call, an encyclopaedic post on Bengali Cuisine. Following are some of the behind the scene shots of the photo shoot on the day the BBC GoodFood team came home. The photographs in the actual feature looks even more gorgeous (taken from the other side of the table!), so do grab yourself a copy and let me know what you think… Untitled-5Untitled-6Untitled-8

The Travel Show of Dubai Eye 103.8FM: The protagonist in the last few months in my life has definitely been the Mishti Doi. Just a few days back, I had been chatting with Mark Lloyd and Lucy Taylor on the Travel Show of Dubai Eye 103.8FM about Kolkata, Bengali food, my blogging journey, Mishti Doi and more. Listen to the podcast – please relish the mmms as both Lucy and Mark taste the Mishti Doi on air!

The clay pots to hold Rôshogollas @traditional sweet shop in Kolkata

Mishti Doi story and my thoughts on it: Mishti or sweets ‘belong’ to Bengalis. You will find many famous Indian sweet shops outside Bengal with a ‘Bengali Sweet’ Counter. Yes, even in Dubai – in Bikanerwala, Chappan Bhog and others. Sweets are a necessary sign-off for a traditional Bengali meal. A meal ends with a Chutney (a sweet, tangy paste that can be made with every conceivable fruit and even vegetables). After the Chutney comes the formal dessert tasting and the choices in Mishti/Sweets are absolutely endless. While Roshôgolla or the Rasgulla rules the popularity chart (yes, I have written an essay on them as well), the one dessert that comes a close second is definitely the Mishti Doi. While the making of the traditional Mishti Doi can be pretty time consuming and there is always the apprehension of whether the setting of the Doi is perfect, the Bhapa Doi or the steamed yoghurt can be pretty easy – you just have to steam it a bit longer if you find that it’s not set yet! In Kolkata, if you enter any sweet shop, you will get to see a stack of earthen pots in different sizes (above) – Mishti Doi is set in earthen pots like these. The traditional preparation of Mishti Doi calls for an elaborate process – caramelising the milk with sugar or Notun Gur / season fresh jaggery. The thickened milk is then let to ferment overnight in a container which has been coated with fresh yoghurt, which helps in the culture. An earthen pot allows gradual evaporation of water through its pores and provides the right temperature for the yoghurt to set in. Trust me, make Bhapa Mishti Doi instead! IMG-20140608-WA0009

I feel that Mishti Doi can cater to a non-Indian palette more than any other Indian desserts. As I spend more time with food and meet different people through my blogging, I have come to the conclusion that although people may enjoy and experiment with different types of cuisine, it’s not the same with desserts. My non-Indian friends may love Indian food, but when it comes to Indian desserts – they feel that they are too sweet. I absolutely love Thai food (having had a brilliant experience in the country along with some authentic Thai cooking lessons), I don’t get excited by Thai desserts. The liking for desserts, by and large, is probably an acquired taste. This is where Mishti Doi wins hands down over other Indian desserts. The texture and the taste resembles the crème brûlée or the pudding or the Dulce de leche – Journey Kitchen writes about her version of Mishti Doi – the Baked Dulce de leche Yogurt. The other day, I had dropped in at my friend and food blogger Debbie’s place (she writes as Coffee Cakes and Running) when she was in the midst of making her famous Banoffee Pie. The caramel toffee she had prepared tasted exactly like the Mishti Doi. A few blogger friends who had attended one of my Bengali Gourmet pop up in Book Munch earlier on (above), commented how the Mishti Doi would taste like a cheese cake filling if it had been thickened more – thus giving me new ideas – to set a thicker Mishti Doi in a pie crust. That would be my Mishti Doi Tart!Untitled-7

My own experiments on Mishti Doi: While the Mishti Doi Tart is yet to be born in my kitchen, there has been a few successful variants that I am already proud of. My friends and family are an integral part of my kitchen experiments – while the Z-Sisters are never tired of my experiments with Bengali fusion recipes, some friends willingly lend themselves to being the untiring guinea pigs (thanks Shelly). And there are other friends who are my *recipe consultants*.  For example, Sumana. She is my authority on desserts – my *dessert consultant*, while with Neel I am always exploring new recipe possibilities. The former has successful inherited the recipe of Bhapa Mishti Doi, after having tweaked the original recipe from one of my favourite Bengali food blog – Bong Mom’s Cookbook. My recipe has been re-tweaked from Sumana’s. Often we brainstorm on different Mishti Doi variants. While different flavours of Mishti Doi are not unusual in Kolkata, like Elaichi Doi or the Mango Doi … from vintage sweet shop *Balaram Mullick*(estd in 1885!), we are currently experimenting variations of toppings, without changing the flavour of the original Bhapa Mishti Doi. Here are a few of them…Untitled-10 Untitled-10aIMG_20140605_154736

Bhapa Mishti Doi with pomegranates or the saffron topping – both worked very well (Lucy Taylor commented that the latter tasted like honey). Again, Debbie accidentally discovered during my Bengali Gourmet pop up event, the Mango chutney topping (above), which I have to admit worked really well! The next on the pipe line is the hard caramelised topping a la the crème brûlée! I have also tried setting the Bhapa Mishti Doi in one big earthen pot (below) – the challenge lies in not burning the surface, while making sure that it has thickened consistently. I ended up burning the surface as well as the earthen pot and spoilt the look by scraping off the burnt crust. It tasted very good, nevertheless!Untitled-15

Bhapa Mishti Doi or Steamed Sweet Yoghurt

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 1/2 can of sweet condensed milk (I use Nestle, each can = 350 gm)

1 can of evaporated milk (I use Rainbow, each can = 410 gm)

1 kg of plain yoghurt

1/2 tsp saffron strands

Method

  1. Whisk the sweet condensed milk, evaporated milk and yoghurt finely or beat with a hand mixer or in the blender till nice and frothy
  2. Pour them into small ceramic pots (if you can’t get hold of earthen pots)*
  3. Sprinkle Saffron strands on top
  4. Pre heat Oven to 350º F. Fill a large baking tray with water. Put each pot with the mix in it so that water is half way up. Do not cover the baking dish
  5. After 30 – 35 minutes the yogurt will set. If not, allow a couple of more minutes. It’s ready when the top and the edges start browning a little. At this point insert a tooth pick lightly to see if it is done (the tooth pick should come out clean. It might be a little wobbly but cool in the refrigerator for 5-6 hrs or overnight to set completely). Take it out and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Why don’t you try out pomegranates for a topping?

*Note: I get my earthen pots from the Bombay Chowpatty, located in the food court of Lulu Al Barsha. The smaller ones cost Dhs 2/piece. Normally they don’t sell these but I persist. Al Adil Supermarkets also stock them – but they are more expensive – Dhs 5/piece. Please wash them in running water and let them dry out before you use them.

(As shared in BBC GoodFood Middle East, October 2014)

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I have thought of writing this blog post so many times and have clicked various pictures at home. Probably, it wasn’t time yet! Not until now, I guess. I am happy that the Bhapa Mishti Doi gets a bit of publicity and so does the Z-Sisters! Do let me know what you think of it… and also the Food Safari on Bengal. I have been really keen on a write up on Bengali food in BBC GoodFood Middle East from the first time I got a mention in the magazine as ‘Meet the blogger’ – way back in August 2012! Do have a look at the incredible gallery of Durga Pujo in Kolkata – including the royal Shovabazaar Raajbari Pujo, and also the Bishorjon in the River Ichamati, as shared by my brother (@Kolkatan on Instagram). Stay blessed!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Disclaimer: Please note that this post is not a sponsored post and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from this post. You can catch my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

@Kolktan’s pick of the most creative idols…

Shobhabazaar Rajbari…

Immersion in River Ichamati…

And finally, Pujo fashion…

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Luchi Featured In Ahlan! Gourmet | My Ode To Phulko Luchi!

‘If Bruschetta remains Bruschetta and Crostata remains Crostata, then Phulko Luchi should be nothing else but be called Phulko Luchi!’

Luchi got featured in the February issue of Ahlan! Gourmet (above), along with Kosha Mangsho and Polao. Naturally, my Bengali foodie soul is very satisfied. When Olivia Spadavecchia, the Editor of Ahlan! Gourmet contacted me, I had already been planning to do a post – an Ode of the pictorial kind, on Luchi. I was slightly skeptical as to whether the Bengali names of the dishes should remain the same or was I going to translate and create names for them. What was I going to call Phulko Luchi? Puffed-up Flour Flatbread? Or, the Kasha Mangsho for that matter? Slow cooked Lamb, in the Bengali Style? I resorted to Twitter with a few Bengali blogger friends, a few of them having quite a lot of credibility internationally. A virtual ‘TweetAdda‘ (Adda is a common Bengali pass-time referring to plain, simple and pure Chit-chat, so TweetAdda refers to Adda on Twitter!) followed with @BongMomCookBook, @Finelychopped, @Soma_R (eCurry), @kankanasaxena (Sunshine & Smiles), @kaniskac (For the love of food) and @marginfades.

What follows below, are bits and pieces of our TweetAdda to highlight the dilemma a food blogger or a food writer who’s wanting to showcase a regional dish to those who are uninitiated to it. Does a dish lose it’s meaning and the very essence that’s associated with it, if the original name is not there or if it’s kind-of translated? Is everything lost in translation? And if at-all something can be captured in the translation, is it good enough? Do overlook the grammar, the punctuations and simply enjoy the pure essence of a discussion on Luchi.

What would be #KashaMangsho in English for international readers? Urgent!

Bong Mom’s Cookbook: Aiyyo don’t translate. Kasha Mangsho would be slow cooked spicy goat meat

For the love of food: just like you don’t translate chocolate

Margin Fades: add to that the word “dry” (dry slow cooked spicy goat meat). it’s helpful to have a description, even if it’s wordy

Sunshine and Smiles: i say, keep the original and explain the breakup detail in bracket. that’s how people should know the dish, by it’s original name!

eCurry: I do translate when I can in the title along with the original name

Me: I know that – your Patishapta translates into Crêpes with Sweet Coconut Cardamom Filling!!! #Lost in #translation??

eCurry: I feel everything is lost in translation 😦 do the best I can do. but it is crepe and it has that filling. LOL!

eCurry: the essence of the recipe is all lost in translation! too many words. like Kosha Mangsho says it all 🙂 but only for us

Can #Phulko Luchi be translated into Puffed-up Flour Flat-Breads?

Sunshine and Smiles: i think, fried puffed indian bread in brackets 🙂

@coffeemike  joins in. I don’t know him (but will be following up on him, once the post is published). His tweets from a non-Bengali and a non-Indian perspective shows a different angle to the discussion.

@coffeemike: If I’m cooking another culture’s food, I’d like to know what it’s properly called

Me: Along with the explanations right? Mere translations won’t do, I presume!

Margin Fades: I would think so – can’t imagine leaving anyone to figure out Labongo Latika, for example

Me: that one will take some figuring out, honestly

Margin Fades: exactly! Labanga Latika, for example, is like a coconut turnover, pinned with cloves.

Me: Ivy Clove, perhaps?

Margin Fades: but as Ishita explains, it translates to Clove Ivy. (Which makes absolutely no sense.)

Ahhh, I got it Margin Fades, what a boost for my ego!

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The final conclusion – if Bruschetta remains Bruschetta and Crostata remains Crostata, then Phulko Luchi should be nothing else but be called Phulko Luchi. As Kankana puts it ‘I feel we should never change the name or call it Indian something (for example – Samosas are not to be described as Indian Empanadas)… that’s how we can make these dishes famous, make people know the name as it should be. Adding an explanation in bracket would help people understand’. I am reminded of my conversation with MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor. When I ask him why does Indian food mean either the North Indian food or the South Indian snacks and not any other regional Indian cuisine, he says – ‘It is the people from those region who have to take pride in their own food and come forward.’ Not to give up, I barge in – so there’s scope for a Bengali food blogger to come forward to the rescue? He answers – ‘Of-course, hundred percent!’

Interestingly, Olivia got back to me saying that she was more interested in Luchi than the Polao. In-fact, she wanted to capture Luchis in the making! I should have been surprised. Wow! She knows about Luchi? But it didn’t surprise me at all. I had already read about her in fellow Fooderati Blogger, Chef and Steward‘s I Work in Food series. I knew she was comfortable being in a kitchen, was adventurous and very much aware of the different cuisines of the world. Boasting of Italian roots, I’m presuming that her love and adventure for food can be perfectly complimented by a this Bong’s food passion. So here I am Olivia, taking pride in my Luchi and writing my ode on it, as I had promised! DSC_0152

Luchi, the star, throws enough tantrums. As revealed by the Behind the Scene shots taken by me!

On the day of the shoot, as Shruti, the photographer puts the spotlight on Luchi, getting a shot of the perfectly Phulko Luchi or the perfectly puffed up Luchi becomes almost next to impossible. Many weeks back, I did manage to get my dream shot of Luchi at home – each Phulko Luchi perched on top of the other (the first cover picture in this post, much much above). But this was probably not a Star’s day for perfect-shots. By the time the Phulko Luchis were being scurried from the frying pan, across the kitchen counter and passed on to the table near the balcony door – possible the only place that gets a bit of decent sunlight, the Luchis were getting deflated. The beauty of Luchis is in its’ puffed up and swollen demeanor. That beauty fades completely once they become deflated (above right)! Finally, like a star who shines in front of only a good photographer, my Luchis did turn out looking great on fine-print.DSC_0175

The table-setting as I had visualised… Coffee-table books on Kolkata and Art of Bengal, some traditional silver serving bowls, mortars, real whole spices along with wine glasses, contemporary crockery etc. And of-course with Luchi, Polao and Kasha Mangsho. DSC_0178

Phulko Luchi or Puffed Flour Flatbread

Category – Meal accompaniment; Cuisine type – Traditional Bengali

You may substitute the White Flour with Gluten-free Flour, but if Atta/Whole Wheat is used, then Luchi ceases to be the Bengali Luchi and turns into a non-Bengali Puris

Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!

The best thing about making Luchis, is that, I can delegate the messy job of kneading to the Z-Sisters! Both Big Z and Li’l Z are thrilled everytime I outsource the job to them.

Makes 15 Luchis approximately

Ingredients
Flour – 1 cup
White Oil – 2 tbsp for the dough
White Oil – 2 cups for deep frying
Sugar – a pinch
Baking Soda – a pinch

Method of Preparation

Making the Dough 
– The Dough should be kneaded into a smooth and soft ball
– Place it in a container and keep it covered for at-least 30 minutes
– Add the White Oil, Sugar, Baking Soda to the Flour and start kneading by sprinkling water very frequently
– The Dough should be kneaded into a smooth and soft ball
– Place it in a container and keep it covered for at-least 30 minutes
– Knead the Dough once again just before making the Luchi
– Pull out small amounts of Dough and make smooth, round balls in your palms (Each ball should be 1 inch in diameter)
– Flattened these balls by using a rolling-pin into circles of  4-5 inches in diameter (Perfect circles can be made by flattening the small balls and placing a sharp-edged round glass or bowl on top and cutting off the excess – that’s cheating but worth the aesthetic appeal!)

Frying the Luchi
– Heat the oil in a Wok (If the Oil is not very hot the Luchis won’t puff up. They will become crispy and flat
– Slide in each flattened flour into the hot oil and after a few seconds press it with your ladle. Immediately the Luchi should puff up. Turn it over and immediately take it off the oil (as shown in the pics below)
– Each Luchi has to be deep-fried separately

How do we serve Luchis?
Luchis are versatile. They can be served during Breakfast as well as for Main Meals. Depending upon whether one is having Luchi as a Snack or a Main meal, the accompaniment differs. Serve the Luchis hot. Take caution and don’t poke the puffed up Luchis with your finger immediately after they have been taken off the fire – the inside tends to remain extremely hot!

Famous Food Pairings that can be conjured up with Luchi
– Luchi and Begun Bhaja/Fried Eggplant
– Luchi and Aloo Bhaja/Fried Aloo
– Luchi and Aloor Dum/Potatoes- Luchi and Cholar Dal/Dal with Bengal Grams
– Luchi and Kasha Mangsho/Slow cooked Meat Bengali style (my post on a non-traditional Kasha Mangsho with red Wine!, while the traditional recipe is in the Blog queue!)
– Luchi and Payesh/Rice Pudding (my post on Notun Gurer Payesh /traditional Bengali Rice Pudding with Jaggery)

While the list goes on, here’s a pictorial journey to my ode on Luchi, from the very beginning. These photographs had already been taken long back and were lying in the IPhoto Albums, waiting for the day I would be making a post on Luchi. Thanks to Ahlan! Gourmet, my long-desired post got written!

My Mum said ‘Jya! Luchi aar Kasha Mangsho ki emon khabar? Eto kichu banash, ekta onyo kichu korle partish!/Why Luchi and Kasha Mangsho? It’s such a regular dish. You cook so many things, couldn’t you have done something else?’ Precisely my point, Mama. It’s irregular for us and may just become extinct and not reach your grand-daughters’ plate, if a story is not written on it!

A post on Luchi would be incomplete without mentioning Indranimashi (below left). She’s been my parents’ friend for long. She has seen me since I was a child and has now, become a friend of mine as well. Having lived in Dubai for a decade, with parents living thousands of miles away, a few friends like Indranimashi, have become our unofficial guardians. No dinner in her place is complete without Luchi and every other traditional Bengali dish that go with it – Potol Bhaja, Begun Bhaja, Cholar Dal, Kasha Mangsho etc. The minimum amount of Luchis that she has to make for any party is 100. Her trusted Roti-maker (it flattens the dough balls) lends a very helping hand. Whenever I visit Indranimashi, I make sure that I also peep into her kitchen to say an inaudible Hello to the antique Roti-maker!

The article in Ahlan! Gourmet connected me to a lot of people – a lot of them are non-Bengalis but have had some connection to Kolkata at some point in time. Interestingly, a reader whose mother is a Bengali and father is from Hongkong, mailed me, addressing me as Ishitadi. He’s been to Kolkata, has seen Durga Puja and misses Luchi and Kasha Mangsho. Another British reader wrote to me, saying that he was posted in Kolkata, a long time back and is now living in Dubai. Would I be interested in teaching his kids to speak in Bengali and his wife to cook a few Bengali dishes! It’s interesting how Food gets us connected to strangers. It connects us with memories and nostalgia and people from across different regions. And it is while talking, writing about Food, sharing ideas on it and of-course while enjoying eating it, that we break down all our barriers!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

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Disclaimer: Please do not use any material from this post. I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lots of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them, please don’t use them as some of them have been taken from our personal albums just to make your reading experience more pleasurable. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.

UAE National Day | Making Aam Pana/ Green Mango Drink For My Dubai My City

Today is the 41st UAE National Day or Al-Eid Al Watani as it is called in Arabic. The above picture is a personal favourite of mine. It might look like a canvas but is actually a special drink that I’ve created as a tribute to the UAE National Day. The lovely Jihad and Sajith from My Dubai My City, the first video guide to the city of Dubai, came home the other day to shoot the video. So many things to learn from them as they effortlessly went on with their job. I hope you will like the video as much as I do!

2nd December marks UAE’s formal independence from the United Kingdom and the eventual unification of the seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain) in 1971 which combined to form the modern-day UAE that is today. Here’s wishing everyone residing in the UAE the 41st UAE National Day!

Us‘This is my Kitchen’ is a segment in My Dubai My City (@MyDubaiMyCity) where the main aim is to highlight how UAE – specially Dubai, is a beautiful hub of all sorts of cultures. The host of each episode shows us how to make a traditional dish with a story – any kind of story, for example the meaning/origin of the name or if it’s associated with any personal experience.

I was fortunate to have hosted an episode where I showed how to make the Bengali Aam Pana or Green Mango Drink in the traditional way. At the end I twisted this traditional recipe to make frozen pulps of Black grapes and watermelon and created a special drink for the UAE National Day (above)!

Jihad (the smiling lady to my left) transformed my dining table with her little feminine touches here and there – the candle stand, the table cloth and the white crockery and elegant cutlery – thank you my dear! And yes, Sajith (the smiling and humble gentleman above), the next time you come home I’ll try to blink less and probably wear my glasses instead of wearing my usual set of contact lenses and blinking all the way through the shoot!

I’ve written about the Frozen Aam Pana where I’ve frozen the pulp scooped out of smoked Green Mangoes in an earlier post of mine – Frozen Aam Pana/Green Mango Pulp… The Change Initiative! The idea of frozen fruit pulps had been inspired from a visit to The Taste Initiative, the first sustainable café in Dubai.DSC_2141

For the UAE National Day Drink, I froze pulp of Black Grapes, pulp of Watermelons and the green Mango pulp. The Watermelon pulp required some additional sugar. And I added roasted Cumin Powder and a bit of rock salt. Garnish it with fresh green Mint leaves if you prefer and a delicious blend of sorbet-melting-into-a-drink is ready! I do hope you enjoy the pictorial journey of this beautiful drink inspired by the UAE flag colours. The colours on the UAE flag represent the following: white for peace and honesty, red for hardiness, bravery, strength and courage, green for hope, joy, love and optimism and black for the defeat of enemies or strength of mind. You may read more about the UAE flag here.DSC_2109

Frozen Aam Pana/Raw Mango Pulp Drink

Category – Drinks & Beverage; Cuisine type – Traditional Bengali, Indian

Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!

Aam Pana or Green Mango Drink is a great summer combat and is made in most regions in India. The Bengali Aam Pana is however a bit different in the sense that the green mangoes are first smoked (right below) and then the pulp is taken out. So while the taste of the mango is intact the smoky smell is strong and lends this drink an unusual charm. While in other places in India, the green mangoes are boiled and then pulped. You may get the recipe from my earlier post Frozen Aam Pana/Green Mango Pulp.

Enjoy the photographic journey of the special UAE National Drink…

DSC_2093DSC_2101DSC_2081DSC_2142DSC_2174DSC_2192DSC_2217DSC_2249DSC_2272DSC_2310DSC_2199DSC_2215

As everybody joins in the celebrations, I love the way Google Doodles join in each country’s festive celebrations. Google joins UAE in celebrating the country’s 41 National Day with an artistic doodle highlighting the occasion on Google’s homepage on the UAE domain on December 2.https://i0.wp.com/gulfnews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1113026!/image/3272725916.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_475/3272725916.jpg

The doodle shows four flying falcons carrying banners in the colours of the UAE flag: red, white, green and black. Each of the six banners features a letter from the Google logo, with the second ‘o’ in the word depicting one of the ancient tombs found on the island of Umm Al Nar. You can read more about the concept here.

An interesting timeline of events for the UAE starting from the 1820’s can also be found in BBC Middle East. If you prefer to watch videos, then don’t miss out these string of videos that The National had come out with last year – ’40 historic objects that shaped the UAE’… for example a Foetal heart monitor – early 1960s,  Etisalat phone – 1987, Royal invitation cards- 1979, A Grundig radio used by Sheikh Shakhbut and many more. You’ll get to watch all the videos here.DSC_189612554_501641649869264_1799755918_n

As UAE flags dot each and every shop located in each alley of Satwa, Karama or in the other emirates, UAE is probably the only country where patriotism is marked by how dressed up your car is! So it’s not surprising that UAE residents may win Dh100, 000 in prizes for decorating the best vehicles on the National Day parade. More on such patriotic fervour here!

I’m signing off with two of my Dubai posts – The Diary Of A Dubai Resident… As Home Turns Into An Inn! and Things to do in Dubai – Like a tourist in my own city! The latter post is perhaps one of the most ‘shared’ post in my blog. I am digging out this post from the archives only because I had spent lots of humorous hours penning it down and now it’s time to showcase my love for Dubai with the 41st UAE National Day lurking around the weekend. Also, I have been nominated for the Expats Blog Awards. If you like reading my posts, do show some love for me by leaving your comments here.

Updating my post with a video shot right now (12:50am on 3rd December) at the JBR Walk… the National Day celebration continues with full fervour!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Disclaimer: I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them please don’t use them as some of them have been taken from our personal albums just to make your reading experience more pleasurable. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.

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My Dubai Diary in this blog:
♦ Things To Do In Dubai – Like A Tourist In My Own City Showcasing the city I love to call my home!
My First Authentic Emirati Food Experience! – Al Fanar Restaurant, Dubai Festival City
Al Maha Desert Resort & Twitterati Lunch – Al Maha Luxury Eco Resort
An Evening of Wine Tasting at Asado Wine Club – Asado Wine Club, The Palace Hotel, Old Town
♦ The Label Project – Wines Tasted Blindly! – Invite to a Global Wine initiative from Jacob’s Creek
TRIBES Celebrating South African Heritage Day! – TRIBES, the South African Restaurant in MOE
Locavorism in UAE, Friday Market
The Change Initiative Inspiration!  – Dubai’s first sustainable store, restaurant & café
Zatar Lamb, Crushed Lemon Potato with Chef Ron Pietruszka – Treat 2012, Burjuman World Food Fest + a Recipe
♦ Back To Dubai, Back to Costa –A nostalgic recount of favourite coffee haunt
Searching for Shiraz – Lucknow to Kolkata to Dubai – Nostalgic search for Kolkata’s famous Shiraz Restaurant ends with Siraz opening in Bur Dubai. Exploring some Awadhi/Lucknowy Khana!
♦ Down To Earth Organic Store In Dubai & Mutton Chick Peas Curry – An event + a Recipe
Mums Who Share @JBR A charity initiative
♦  Deep Sea Fishing & Fish Barbeque – Persian Gulf off Dubai Coast
♦  The Million Street, in the middle of nowhere – Rub Al-Khali Desert, UAE

Rasgullas made for Dubai One

Rasgulla Macapuno On TV & Shubho Bijoya to all!

Shubho Bijoya to all of you!

A few months ago my Rasgullas or Roshogollas was aired on Noor Dubai TV and Dubai One during Ramadan (above video). And I got the video in hand today just as I had sat down to write a festive post wishing all of you a Shubho Bijoya! And whoosh by some sudden act of magic, came up the video at the perfect junction when I was ransacking my photo albums to write a very, very Bengali post.

If you are hopping into my blog for the first time and wondering why you are being pulled into such a Bong (colloquial term to Bengalis) post – well, I am at this moment on a massive overdose of Bengali nostalgia and elation. Nostalgic because sitting here on the shores of Dubai, I am reminded continuously of the moments that I’ve grown up with… specially Durga Pujo. But at the same time Elated because here I am – a Bengali when I’m outside and an outsider in Bengal – sharing my stories with all of you coming from so many different parts of the world or coming from the same country I come from but living in different parts of the world!

Screenshots taken by Reem for Noor TV Dubai
Screenshots taken by Reem for Noor TV Dubai

Rasgulla Macapuno & Essence of Living in Dubai

In the month of May this year I had written a post – Rasgulla Macapuno – When a Filipina Turns Bong! Yet another fusion recipe on Rôshogolla – perhaps the most famous of all Bengali sweet and definitely my favourite subject to write on and to experiment. It’s a tribute to my my Lady Friday (LF) without whom my endless photographic sessions on food experiments would never have materialised. LF hails from Bikol, a region in Phillipines which is known for it’s spicy fare. Filipino food is cooked on a regular basis in our kitchen along with traditional Bengali or we end up cooking some Bengali Fusion food!

When I eat some traditional Filipino dish, I talk about how we could use and adapt it to our Bengali palate. When LF eats some Bengali dish she talks about how similar dishes exist in her cuisine or may be how a little addition here and there would make it quite easy to pass off as a Filipino dish.

If staying with a person from a different culture for a long time doesn’t inspire us, we must be devoid of all emotional sensibilities. The real essence of living in a city like Dubai is that for a Filipina who’s turned into a Bong, there is a Bengali me who’s turned into a Filipina!

Rasgulla Macapuno from my earlier post

Reem, Ramadan, Akl el Bait… and the Emirati woman of today

A very young, elegant lady (though I would like to say girl) by the name of Reem from Noor Dubai TV comes home to make a film on akl el bait or homemade food for Ramadan. Not writing anything on her would be wiping off some very essential facts about the modern generation of Emirati women. Sweet and almost shy but insisting on carrying her cameras and other props all by herself, Reem seems absolutely determined. She bowls me over – ‘I love Rabindra Sangeet and I love watching Bengali films’!

While the shoot was on in the living room, I had almost locked my Mum (my parents were incidentally visiting us at that time) inside. Mum being a typical Mum would otherwise start being her usual self… ‘Orokom kore Channata makhish na/Don’t knead the dough like that’ or ‘Dekh bhalo kore shirata phutlo kina/Check whether the Sugar Syrup is boiling properly’.

Sorry Mum, I’m a food blogger trying all I can to be caught in the right ‘social’ radar, please don’t snatch my thunder away from me, not yet. And definitely, not in-front of this sweet, young girl who’s called Reem!

Behind the Scenes shots

Reem not only listens to Rabindra Sangeet but actually requested my mum to sing ‘Bodhu kon alo laglo chokhe‘ pronouncing the word in perfect Bengali. Reem loves listening to Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya (official site – here), the very famous Rabindra Sangeet exponent from Bangladesh. Dear Reem, this is for you as my Mum stumbled with the words while she sang for you (Forgive me Mama, for stealing your thunder away slightly – tit for tat!) singing. The least I owe you is a complete hearing of the song. Do click here to listen.
Bodhu-Kon-Alo-Laglo-Chokhe (webmusic.in) by Ishita Saha

Love for World Cinema has shaped Reem’s knowledge, exposing her to different cultures. She converses on Bengali Cinema and Rabindra Sangeet just like a proud quintessential Bengali would in a typical Bengali cultural meeting or a friendly dinner get-together. Her request of ‘Oh I can’t remember that song in Chokher Bali… can you sing that Mama?’ or ‘Give my regards to Mela’, my LF, every time we interact is absolutely touching.

‘There’s one condition when you mail me’, she tells me ‘and that is you’ll have to send me a Bengali song every time, preferably Rabindra Sangeet’!

And yes, Reem, I love the film that you have made on my dish and a few others I know for your Ramadan special episodes. You are a brilliant representation of modern generation Emirati women who are shaping up Dubai with their well manicured hands and a treasure chest full of knowledge and awareness in your brains. Professional yet humane, articulate yet coy, opinionated yet subtle.

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Historically, the Emirati women had been responsible for looking after the day to day needs of their families as the menfolk who had been primarily engaged in pearl diving and fishing, left for work for many long months.

As the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said, “Nothing could delight me more than to see the woman taking up her distinctive position in society … Nothing should hinder her progress … Like men, women deserve the right to occupy high positions according to their capabilities and qualifications.”

The right of UAE women to take part in the development of all areas of their society is laid out in the UAE Constitution, adopted when the federation was founded in 1971. It states that social justice should apply to all and that, before the law, women are equal to men. They enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles and access to education. They have the right to practice the profession of their choice… More here.

Today, Emirati women are significantly contributing to the nation’s progress – in all spheres of life – be it in the private sector or the public sector. The following articles are interesting reads on the roles that Emirati women play in the development of today’s UAE… The role of Emirati women in the UAE (The National), The Women in the UAE (Wikipedia)

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Rasgullas

Back to Rôshogolla or Rasgulla

This Bengali sweet is amazingly versatile – made from balls of Chhana/Paneer/Indian Cottage Cheese or Ricotta Cheese and Suji/Semolina dough. Then these soft and spongy balls are cooked in a sugar syrup. In Dubai, there are many Indian sweet shops selling good Rasgullas. We get our Rasgullas from Chappan Bhog which is located opposite Centrepoint on the Karama side of the Trade Centre road. Rasgullas from Chappan Bhog are soft and meets all the Bong sweet-satisfying criterion though it’s completely a subjective issue. Some prefer their Rasgullas from Puranmal and others from Bikanerwala, all located in Karama and details can easily be found over the internet.

Making the Channa/Indian Cottage Cheese for the Rasgulla
Making the Channa/Indian Cottage Cheese for the Rasgulla

The following Rasgulla recipe is from Cook Like A Bong. I have used the same recipe with stupendous success. The Rasgullas came out soft and round and absolutely crack-less!

Ingredients

For the Gollas or the round Channa balls
Full Fat Cow’s Milk2 litres (will make about 24 Rosogollas)
Juice of 2 limes
Suji/Semolina – 1 tsp
Maida/Plain Flour1 tbsp
Sugar1 tsp
Muslin Cloth/Fine strainer

For the Shira/Sugar Syrup

Water – 5 cups
Granulated Sugar – 3 to 4 cups  (depending on whether u have a sweet tooth or not!)
Green Cardamom – ½ tsp Crushed
Rose Water – 2 tsp
Saffron – 1 small pinch

Method of Preparation

For the Gollas
– Heat the milk in a deep bottomed sauce pan and bring to boil
– Add the lemon juice slowly to curdle the milk
– Once the milk is fully curdled and the green whey has been released. Place the muslin cloth on a strainer and slowly drain – the whey out
– Keep the Paneer under cool running water for a few seconds (this will remove any smell of lime)
– Tie the ends of the cloth and hang for an hour. In a large bowl start kneading the Paneer
– Add the semolina and flour and knead for about 5-10 mins till the dough is soft and smooth
– Divide into equal sized round smooth balls (Note: Keep an eye on the size of the balls as they will get bigger-about double the original size!!) Make sure the balls are crack free!

For the Shira/Sugar Syrup and the Rosogollas
– Heat water and sugar in a wide mouth stock pot
– Add the rose water and cardamom powder after the water starts boiling and the sugar is dissolved
– Lower the heat and add the balls one at a time
– Cover the pot and cook on lowest flame for about 40-45 mins
– Remove lid and add the saffron strands and cook for another 5 mins
– Take the pan off heat and let it sit for 5 mins. Garnish with roughly chopped pistachios and serve warm

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There is a superb conversation going on here regarding the making of Rôshogollas. It is a definite read for those who are attempting to make Rôshogolla at home. An excerpt from my essay on Roshogolla – Rôshogolla or Rasgulla – Bengali’s Own Sweet…

Importance of Chhana
Chhana is fresh, unripened curd cheese widely used in India and Bangladesh and is a crumbly and moist form of Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese or farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids). This Cutting of the Milk to make Chhanna ie Acidification is the most important factor affecting the quality of Rôshogolla. Chhana is created in a similar process to Paneer except that it is not pressed for as long. Though the Paneer can be traced back to the Vedas dating back to 3000 BC and has an Indian origin, Chhana that is the base for most of the Bengali Sweets has been imported from Portugal and can be traced back to the Portugese settlements in Bengal during the 16th Century AD.

Important Factors Affecting the Quality of Rôshogolla
– The Cutting of the Milk to make Chhanna ie Acidification is the most important factor affecting the quality of Rôshogolla
– Rosh or Chasni ie the thickness or BRIX of Sugar Syrup
– The temperature and the way the medium ie the previous day’s whey water, vinegar, lime is introduced to cut the milk (the best results are produced when you slowly introduce the acid medium into the milk)

Please watch (though technically I should be asking you to read) a brilliant and beautiful post from Journey Kitchen on How to make Paneer at home.

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Macapuno

Hailing from Philippines, this is a variety of coconut which has more flesh than the regular coconut. They are extensively used in making Filipino sweets, fruit salads, ice-creams with Macapuno flavours etc. Bottled or canned Macapunos are easily available in regular supermarkets in Dubai (Choitram’s, Al Maya Lal’s, Spinneys etc) and are available in different colours – green, red etc. I prefer to buy only the white Macapuno to complement the sanctity of my white Rasgullas!

It is also very easy to make Macapuno at home from regular coconuts. Coconuts are always available in the Lulu supermarkets or many other Asian supermarkets in Karama. Try to get a coconut which is very tender and will be having a lot of soft flesh inside – Shansh as it is called in Bengali.

Method of Preparation of Macapuno
Slice the soft kernel of a young coconut – the Shansh into thick strips. Mix it with white sugar and a small amount of water. Simmer in a pan for a while until it turns into a sweet syrup without dissolving the kernel strips completely.

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Rasgulla Macapuno

Category – Dessert; Cuisine type – Bengali Fusion (Bong/Filipino)

Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!

For the printable recipe →

Serves 5-6 persons (maybe less if they happen to be sweet-toothed Bengalis!)

Preparation time – 1 hr 30 minutes maximum (Making the Macapuno – 45-50 minutes; setting up – 10 minutes; Refrigeration – 30 minutes) or 10 minutes if you use bottled Macapuno

Ingredients
Rasgullas – 15 pieces (you can also get canned Rasgullas from Haldiram’s or other known brands. These are readily available in most hypermarkets like Carréfour, Lulu and other supermarkets like Spinneys or Choitram’s in selected locations)
Fresh Coconut Water – 1 glass
Macapuno – 1 cup (if prepared at home) or 1 Bottle
Saffron – 1/2 tsp, soaked in Milk
Pistachios – 4 tsp
Milk* – 2 cups

Method of Preparation
– Prepare the Macapuno (described earlier)
– Pour the Rasgullas into a deep glass bowl (it’s amazing to see them through the transparent glass when it seems like they are floating – there’s one photograph above!)
– Add fresh Coconut Water, Milk, Macapuno and the soaked Saffron
– Refrigerate and serve chilled
– Garnish with Pistachios just before serving

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Durga Pujo around the world & I’m on a desi trail in Meena Bazaar!

On a desi trail... walking around Meena Bazaar
On a desi trail… walking around Meena Bazaar

As Bengalis celebrate the Pujo all around the world, I hit the roads of Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai area on the rebound… on my own little Desi trail! Contrary to the glitzy shopping malls in Dubai, Meena Bazaar has a different charm altogether. From glaring lightnings to the blaring horns from cars struck in perennial traffic, from the snaky lanes and by-lanes to the crowded main-road, from Indian and Pakistani stores selling traditional clothings to Iranian spice shops, from haute-couture fashion Boutiques (selling mainly traditional Indian and Pakistani ethnic attire) to stores selling high-street fashion, branded watch-houses to shops – the ’10 Dirhams shops’ selling inexpensive models, from electronics to home products, from computers to spare-parts, from quick-fixers like cobblers and menders to expensive tailoring shops – I love Meena Bazaar. Specially when the narrow dark alleys suddenly open up and you are hit with the bright sunlight and the sparkling sea-green waters of the Dubai Creek!

The alley that leads to the temple
The alley that leads to the temple

The alley leading to the Hindu temple is a sudden revelation – I love the cultural aspects of any religion – the strength in the spiritual beliefs and traditions of people believing in their respective faiths. The faces of people going into the temples with their flower offerings laid out on plates says it all – smitten with the belief of the submission to some strength above – however that may be defined in each individual’s respective religion.

Pujo Celebrations in the Sindhi Hall & scouting for Bindis

Facebook reminds me of how forlorn and starved I am sometimes. Though I try to be generous and feel happy when my friends have the pleasure of some materialistic glory that I haven’t got myself but this is one moment when I break down, a little bit. Forget about the different cities in India that are celebrating Durga Pujo, the Facebook updates from my friends is testimony to similar celebrations the world over – Bangkok, Singapore, different cities in the US, UK and Europe, even Oman. Excepting the UAE. I would be lying if I said that Durga Pujo is not celebrated here. It is celebrated in Abu Dhabi, also in Dubai. The Pujo celebrations in Dubai takes place in the Sindhi Hall tucked into an alley in the Meena Bazaar area. Though this cannot be compared to the scale and the grandeur with which the celebrations occur world-wide. Yes, faith is in the mind but unfortunately celebrations aren’t!

Traditional Bengali Attire
Bengali tradition is reflected by two colours – Red & White

The last entire week the Bengalis world-wide were caught up in a festive frenzy celebrating their biggest festival – the Durga Pujo. Today is Bijoya, the last day of the worship and the celebrations come to an end as everyone greets each other, the younger ones seeking the blessings of the elder ones. The Bengali married women wear their traditional white saris with red borders and perform the Sindoor Khela where the married women smear each other with Vermillion. The men engage themselves in embraces – the Kolakuli. Bengalis feed each other, gift each other and share with each other – yes, you guessed it correctly – Sweets!

As I binge on the Pujo pictures downloaded from the Facebook albums of my friends (with permission ofcourse) and inundate my desktop the following have been some Bong food posts that I’ve been drooling on –

– Aloor Dum
– Durga Puja Ashtami Bhoger Khichudi
– Feasting during Durga Puja
Mishti Doi/Sweetened Yoghurt
– Mitha Chawal/Sweet Rice
Mutton without Onion Garlic
Rasgulla/Roshogolla

Durga Pujo Card collaborately made by the Z-SISTERS
Durga Pujo Card collaborately made by the Z-SISTERS

Tomorrow is also Eid. This indeed is a festive season and I’ve only one thing to pray for – May your lived be filled with peace, prosperity, health and happiness. And may peace prevail everywhere!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

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Disclaimer: I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them please don’t use them. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here. Chappan Bhog, Bikanerwala, Puranmal are just a few examples of very good sweet shops in Dubai. Most are located on Trade Centre Road in Karama and you may find all details from the internet.

My Dubai diary in this blog:
♦ Things To Do In Dubai – Like A Tourist In My Own City Showcasing the city I love to call my home!
My First Authentic Emirati Food Experience! – Al Fanar Restaurant, Dubai Festival City
An Evening of Wine Tasting at Asado Wine Club – Asado Wine Club, The Palace Hotel, Old Town*
♦ The Label Project – Wines Tasted Blindly! – Invite to a Global Wine initiative from Jacob’s Creek
TRIBES Celebrating South African Heritage Day! – TRIBES, the South African Restaurant in MOE*
Zatar Lamb, Crushed Lemon Potato with Chef Ron Pietruszka – Treat 2012, Burjuman World Food Fest + a Recipe
♦ Back To Dubai, Back to Costa –A nostalgic recount of favourite coffee haunt
Searching for Shiraz – Lucknow to Kolkata to Dubai – Nostalgic search for Kolkata’s famous Shiraz Restaurant ends with Siraz opening in Bur Dubai. Exploring some Awadhi/Lucknowy Khana!
♦ Down To Earth Organic Store In Dubai & Mutton Chick Peas Curry – An event + a Recipe*
Mums Who Share @JBR A charity initiative
♦  Deep Sea Fishing & Fish Barbeque – Persian Gulf off Dubai Coast
♦  The Million Street, in the middle of nowhere – Rub Al-Khali Desert, UAE

Bengali Food Banters you’ll find in my blog:
Traditional Bengali Cuisine… In ‘Slight’ Details! – An etymological explanation to the Bengalis’ food festish
♦ Pickles… Mother (-in-law) Of All Pickles! – My Pickle Nostalgia
♦ Momos in Tiretti Bazar – The Last Chinese Remnants! – A chinese Bazar near Poddar Court
♦ Phuchkas in Vivekananda Park – An ode to Dilipda’s ‘world-famous’ Phuchka
Bengali Sweets That Came By Parcel! – Gujia, Jibe Goja, Abaar Khabo & Jolbhora
Rôshogolla (রসগোল্লা) – Bengali’s Own Sweet – An essay on the most famous Bengali Sweet

Bengali Food Recipes you’ll find in my blog: (Do click on Recipes, Reviews, Events for a complete list of all food banters)
Mutton Kassa With Red Wine And Red Grapes – Bengali Fusion
♦ Khichuri As Harbinger of Hope & Kolkata Soaked In Rains – Traditional Bengali/Indian
♦ Hot Garlic Pickle… The Pickled Diary – Episode 1 – Indian Pickle
♦ Firni or Ferni, Ramadan or Ramzan, Mallick Bazar or Karama? – Indian Dessert
♦ A Tale of 2 Cities & Naru/Coconut Jaggery Truffles – Traditional Bengali
♦ Phuchkas in Vivekananda Park – Indian Street-food/Snacks
Kaancha Aamer Chutney/Green Mango Chutney – Traditional Bengali
Notun Gurer Payesh/Rice Pudding & My Dida – Traditional Bengali
Rasgulla Macapuno – When a Filipina Turns Bong! – Dessert; Bengali Fusion
Mango Lentil Soup/ Aam Dal – The Summer Combat – Dal; Traditional Bengali
Easter Egg Curry – Side-dish; Bengali Fusion/Traditional Bengali/Continental
Mashed Potato Bengali Style/ Aloo Bhaaté – Side-dish; Bengali Fusion
Yoghurt Aubergine with Pomegranate – Side-dish; Bengali Fusion
Purple Haze Yoghurt with Purple M&Ms – Dessert; Bengali Fusion
Icecream Rasgulla with Blueberry Sauce – Dessert; Bengali Fusion

BBC GoodFood Middle east, August 2012 Issue - 'Meet the Blogger'

BBC GoodFood ME, August 2012 | Meet the Blogger

A few posts down the line, a few blogging ‘good’ friends made down the way, a few inspiring bloggers to look up to, a few ups and downs and some moments of real HIGH. One such high is being featured in BBC GoodFood Middle East’s August 2012 issue in ‘Meet the Blogger’. I have always dug myself into this magazine every month – savouring each page with much adulation.

A small peep inside…

The last page of this issue is very special. It features this blog – the first media mention for the blog!

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Few of the Food and Travel Banters which are special to me –

The Abandoned Women Amidst Many Prayers

 The Abandoned Women Amidst Many Prayers

 Momos in Tiretti Bazar – The Last Chinese Remnants!

Easter Egg Curry Cooked By Easter Bunnies!

 Easter Egg Curry Cooked By Easter Bunnies!

Rasgulla Macapuno – When a Filipina Turns Bong!

Rasgulla Macapuno – When a Filipina Turns Bong!

Pickles… Mother (-in-law) of All Pickles

Pickles… Mother (-in-law) Of All Pickles!

The Magistrate’s House, No. 1 Thackeray Road, Alipore – Kolkata

 The Magistrate’s House, No. 1 Thackeray Road, Alipore – Kolkata

Things To Do In Dubai – Like A Tourist In My Own City!

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I’m signing off on a very happy note. Do keep connected through Email, Facebook and Twitter – I would love to hear from you, your feed-backs and any suggestions that will make this blog more interesting. And different!

       

Unblogging it all… Ishita

 

I do have a story to tell!

I Do Have A Story To Tell | Excellence in Storytelling Award!

Yes, I admit that I have many stories to share. But ‘Tell’ I will not. And that is precisely why I started blogging. From day one I had the above image in mind in various modes – the violet dream/impression mode in my photo-gallery, green day mode in Twitter when I communicate to the outside world, the B/W mode for my Facebook Profile picture as I would love my stories to impart some colour to it. Here, the empty seat is where ‘I’ sit and write. In my thoughts!

I also started blogging because I wanted to write and share my stories and not tell and re-tell them to my friends a million times who had started avoiding me as if I had the infamous Cheese-touch as in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. You can watch here how horrible that can be. And if you are having doubts about whether I can match up to your IQ levels just because I have all the 5 books of Diary of A Wimpy Kid on my bedside table – then please re-consider. I can up-size my reading habits to your adult levels, but can you down-size yours to mine? If you can then well, you are probably already on my side. And if you can’t then I promise you that I have stories in my mind that is probably meant just for you. If they haven’t been published yet, they will soon be. Guaranteed.

If you are wondering where am I venturing today, well this is a bit of an introspection into my own journey jotting down my Travel & Road & Food Banters. Banters or Stories – that is exactly what I had been wanting to share with the following people –

– Like-minded people who wouldn’t close their browser windows looking at my posts just because they are not on cricket or say finance or say movies or say politics or say anything that doesn’t interest them. On the contrary they would, well jump excitedly because I write on travel and food journeys inspired by the people I have come across, the places that I have visited and the moments that have touched my heart

– Kind-Hearted people who will be kind enough to share my story with others

– Generous people who would be generous in leaving a small comment even if it’s a single letter code if they have happened to visit my site so that these comments (good or bad) can motivate me, inspire me and most importantly correct me when I’m astray

– Genuine people who would actually go through my story and then click the ‘LIKE’ button. I agree that everyone knows that I am at an emotional crossroad where I swell with each ‘LIKE’ but if you could please press the ‘LIKE’ button after waiting for about 5-7 minutes rather than 5 seconds of my posting a link. Even though it might be pretentious but I’ll never know that and I’ll genuinely feel elated knowing that you have read my story. Ideally, each story should take more than 5 minutes considering the 4-5 hours that I spend writing it and the minimum 15-20 pictures that accompany each post. But since my photographs are intended to narrate the story as well, it should take a minimum of 5 minutes if you skip the text. A bit more if they stimulate your visual senses. And much longer if they have touched your heart.

And that is when I feel I am rested. I could probably re-write the last line – ‘That is what I want to achieve/obtain/aspire/desire/intend ‘ but lately these words have started to make me feel as if I am a  conniver. I want to believe that my stories are reflecting the same sense of inspiration that had originally inspired me to write them.

I do have a story to tell!

And just when I start to think whether I am reaching out to the like-minded, kind-hearted, generous and the genuine people listed above, something like this happens. A nomination for the Excellence in Storytelling Award! And from whom? A writer and a story-teller herself and someone whose stories have been inspiring me. Dima from Dima’s Kitchen – a lady whose detailed insights into her travel journeys have transported me to the land she has travelled to or fills my senses with the aroma of the cooking and stirring up that she has been doing in the kitchens of quaint, ancient walls of Spanish Gastronomical societies.

And while accepting this nomination I feel the need to explain to a few dear bloggers who had previously nominated me for other blog awards which have humbled me deeply and have made me delirious but at the same time I haven’t gone forward with the requisites of these awards. Ashmita of The Chaotic Soul who had nominated me for the Sunshine Award and The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. She calls me IshitaDi (Di, short form of Didi/Sister is a suffix that adds lot of respect and seniority to a person). I have started interacting with Ashmita more than just leave-a-random-comment. She writes about her random daily life in Mumbai – a young, confident girl aspiring to be independent and enjoy life to the fullest. Her posts are like a déja vu – as if they are a reflection of my life a decade back, when I had just finished college and wanted to fly on my own wings and stand on my own feet. Unfortunately Ashmita, you don’t write on Food.

Then there is Tahmina of Kolpona Cuisine who had nominated me for being a Versatile Blogger. Tahmina cooks a whole lot of Bengali food – almost everything that I used to eat in my childhood – she takes me to a nostalgic period where my Mum and my Grand-mum never left their kitchens. She posts almost every other day. I wait for her posts to reach my mailbox. Her posts make me happy. They take me back to my childhood.

And a small note for This aMACEing Life for nominating me for a Liebster Award. Also shimmeshine for nominating me for a Kreative Blogger Award. If only these awards celebrated my designation as a Story-teller I would have immediately filled up the forms. This is not diplomacy. This is plain desperation to make people perceive what I want them to perceive – a story-teller. That’s why I am honoured when Ashmita who doesn’t write about food reads my stories or anyone coming from a different part of the world wants to read my story – the story of a Bengali who is an outsider in Bengal and a quintessential Bengali when outside Bengal, on her journey to becoming a world citizen.

I am reading new blogs everyday, falling in love with some and following them – I have always felt I cannot justify nominating only a few of them. At random moments of emotional vulnerability, I have scouted the Blogosphere for other Bengali Bloggers, just because I want to present Bengali Cuisine, specifically Bengali Fusion food to the world. In my search I have ended up reading and resorting to eCurry, Bong Mom’s CookBook (my eternal search for a Bong Mom ends here!), Sunshine & Smile or Cook Like A Bong. Everyday I am stumbling into more and bookmarking them. The same quest continues with other non-Bengali bloggers as well.

But what’s provided me with a lot of stimulation is my induction into Fooderati Arabia – a group of bloggers who apparently share the issues that I have – OCD (Obsessive Compulsive disorder). These bloggers have similar repeated thoughts (about food), feelings (about blogging), ideas (about why blogging on food give us solace), sensations and obsessions (photographing the food and dissecting it for digestion and the camera). I am getting to know each blogger and welcome the frills and feelers, support and solidarity that I am expecting them to provide in my blogging journey.

But it all started with one surprise Tweet on a Friday morning from a lady who claims that she practically owns the Custard Pie.

I am nominating her and a few others for this Excellence in Storytelling Award!
Sally Prosser @ My Custard Pie… for capturing the sunlight streaming into her house and spreading that onto her freshly baked loaf of bread and saving me from the misery of continuously thinking that my apartment doesn’t get any direct sunlight pouring in
Arva Ahmed @ I Live In A Frying Pan… for capturing my fancy with the title of her blog, her deliciously crunchy writing skills and humorous posts but mostly because of her random doodling, a hobby that I gave up down the years – when? how? I am not even aware
Sarah Walton @ The Hedonista… for her amazing photographs, sensitive travelogues and the fact that every-time she forces me into re-thinking that you can still narrate a story with as less as one single brilliant photograph which unfortunately I cannot as I’m no Hedonista
Shira @ in pursuit of more. Living With (Just A Little) Less… for inspiring me with each and every post of hers and making me realise that you can get MORE with much LESS.

And finally the lady who nominated me – Dima @ Dima’s Kitchen for sharing her culinary experiences and narrating them in a manner that can only be achieved by being a keen learner and for telling me that I shouldn’t lose my vision and be just myself. Merely thanking her wouldn’t be enough. But I have to admit that I’m excited.

One random thing about myself that I want to share with everyone – I love to write on Bengali Sweets. Particularly Rasgulla or Roshogolla and probably I’ll do something unique and extra-ordinary things on it. In exactly what way I am yet to figure out. Till then you can enjoy a glimpse into the first pages of two of my Rasgulla album!

Unblogging it all… Ishita