Sunday, 14 May 2017


"Ganga Amar Maa.... Padma Amar Maa,
Oo Amar Dui Chokhey Dui Joler Dhara...

Aki Akash Aki Batash...
Ak Hridoye Aki Prakash
Doyel Koyel Pakhir Thote
Aki Murchona...
Oo Amar Dui Chokhey Dui Joler Dhara
Meghna Yamuna... [Dr. Bhupen Hazarika]

This was my pick for today's post... a planned one keeping in mind few aspects of my parent's lives. This smoked hilsa / shad is not authentic of Comilla, the place in Bangladesh from where both my parent's originated. I selected Ilish / Hilsa because it is a fish that almost all Bengalis swear by, both my parents love it, moreover my entire family on both sides is too much fond of it. I hear in my absence, my not so Bengali son ate ilish all by himself deboning it. I am pretty sure its his father's work in his mission to make him independent, my paa-in-law would have definitely debone it for his grandson if so allowed. When we both were in Kolkata , the grandfather checked the expiry date of every food product before it was served to the grandson.

So far choosing lines from the very famous Assamese lyricist and singer Dr. Bhupen Hazarika to start with... well my daddy's side of the family migrated to various parts of Tripura and Assam from Bangladesh and settled there. My paternal grandfather settled in Nowgong of Assam and all my uncles and aunts from daddy's side settled there. There is a bigger reason... daddy's political belief was similar to him and I was made to hear his numbers. I loved them which gave me goosebumps for sure. My maternal grandfather was also stationed at Guwahati, Assam for a considerable amount of time when my mother was a school goer. My grandma learnt a number of steamed pitha [kind of steamed cakes] from her Assamese friends. My mom.... the eldest of her kids followed her passion for cooking. The granddaughter/ daughter is far more liberal who thinks there is always a better someone than self.... and there is no harm / shame in learning.

What does the above lyrics mean? .... that the Ganges and Padma... both are our mother... the sky above is same in both places... the birds chirp in the same manner in both sides of the border.... the tears that roll down my eyes as Meghna... Yamuna are same in texture and colour. You see my poor vocabulary makes me a poorer translator. I will go a bit further and echo my wise senior and say the whole world is our home.... My daddy visited Bangladesh in 2000 to see his ancestral home or may be for some other work too. He was overwhelmed by the hospitality of his old friends whose names need not be Anindya... Amal or Prabal... they were rather Azizul... Shiraz or Jallaluddin whose wives cooked mutton to fish to dried fish for my dad and he did come back alive to us hale and hearty. Few decades back, bloodshed happened on both sides... the migratory pain was terrible on both sides and the colour of blood was / is always red. There is no socio-political and geographical issue which cannot be solved over the years.... the truth is that they are not done to water vested political interests. In the process we... the commoners suffer.

Yesterday my dear friend from college Pampa Choudhury visited us with her hubby.... they are on an entourage of this island and of Bali. She stays in Bangalore and is the zonal or may be branch head of an NGO... Concern India Foundation. It is she who prescribed me to chant "Naam Myoho Renge Kyo"and trust me it helped me a lot. Now she says I need to go for group chanting.... we have a couple of Buddhist Monasteries here. She was telling me about transfer of soul and that 45 days period.... how we should pray for dad's peace. Her husband is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and an extremely friendly person... we did not even notice when the clock struck 12. He authored two books so far, the first been Bali and the Ocean of Milk and takes interest in theatre too.They were like a cool breeze for the otherwise little sad me. As I said earlier, the chanting got rid of a considerable amount of negativity in me. Yet I prefer to choose as of whom I keep in my periphery. I wish to be with people who had been with me from the birth of my blog and before, who are with me in my journey so long, in fact..... in the virtual world I am interested in my counterparts or those who are reasonably decent. I am vehemently against tying any kind of knot with people who hurl abuses at the blink of an eye even at strangers about whom they know nothing. Their noses might be itching 24/7 to find stories in other's life. I am really not interested in such people who cause pain to others, neither do I have the habit of poking in other's lives.... or who are friends with whom. One thing of which I am pretty sure about is that such people cannot remain loyal to anyone in the world. Our minds remain beautifully green when we water it with good thoughts, good deeds and respect for others.

After I post this .... I will call up home and relay what Pampa said. I will try to give some comfort to mom who sobs and says I am cooking but one member is missing, one who used to crave for the morning newspaper to come and always used our mom's glasses for reading leaving his.... haha. I will later share some hilarious stories about him. So far this banana leaf wrapped ilish / hilsa / shad is concerned, mani... our mom does a near similar dish wherein she keeps the raw fish for a day without refrigeration, the next day marinating it with lots of spices except for the tomato paste, wrapped it in pumpkin leaves and seared in pan. I deviated a little from her original recipe and went ahead with this modified one .... Ilisher Peyaz-Tomato Bata Paturi. Come let us do it together and serve it to our loved ones.

Ilish / Hilsa / Shad : 6-8pieces
Onion Paste : 1/2small cup
Tomato Paste : 1small cup
Garlic Paste : 2tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 11/2tbsp [or as per your taste]
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Mustard Oil : 2-3tbsp

Wash the hilsa pieces and the banana leaves thoroughly. Cut the leaves in sizes good enough to wrap each fish piece.

Take the hilsa pieces in a plate. Add all the ingredients number two to the last.

Rub in all the spices very carefully to the fish pieces. I do it just the way I used to massage oil to my toddler then.

Now we will wrap each one of them with banana leaves and tie with threads or banana leaves strings as we have done. 

Grease frying pan with little oil and place the wrapped fish pieces on pan.

We will now pan sear them at low heat. It may take an hour or some more. We will turnover each one of them from time to time so that each side is done properly. 

We will consider it done only when the banana leaves are almost burnt. Open each one of them and you can smell the nice aroma.

Have it with piping hot steamed rice. Please note... if you saute the spices in oil before marination, time taken is less. Yet I preferred to follow the traditional way. You can also try the recipe with fish fillets.


  1. Any dish cooked with Banana Leaf gives an awesome flavour.. This is a lovely share!!

  2. Truly an interesting way of cooking fish to elevate it to another level, I love the outcome.