Tuesday, 23 January 2018


About 40 years back, this day was a Saraswati Puja day.... I did not get a wake up call from the parents around 5 am in the morning, neither did I hear the tinkling sound of someone's bangles busy in the kitchen preparing a paste of "kancha holud and neempata".... fresh turmeric and neem leaves paste to which mustard oil is mixed and  is a must to massage all over the body on this particular day.... if you do it five times a week you may get a skin like Cleopatra .... if you are trying to recommend me a neem leaves juice every morning, you are not my friend.... The mother did try all such things on me but in vein. I love watching others all decked up, not really applicable to me at all times.... "abhimaan?.... ta boltey paro tomra"... or may be self respect! Had I have a little bit of this self respect in our physics teacher Rakhal Sir's class... I would not be this idle brain today.... He made it a point to ask me questions in almost every physics class and I stood staring at him with a blank face....shamelessness for sure.... Self pride occured only when a comparison with a Nikhita, Punita or say Pricilla happened.... To be precise, till age sixteen I fought with the mother on why she applies so much of oil on my hair that barred me to be someone near to Pricilla.... Once I was 16, I felt otherwise.... let me be myself .... a vouch taken while strolling aimlessly at the DumDum railway station one afternoon.... we stayed 19 long years in DumDum. What you see in social media is a much done up face with a double layer of make up, that reminds that Xmas is over for long and I need to change the Facebook profile picture! Let us go back there from where we started.... That particular morning, the seven years old girl could not find her mother wondering where can she go on a Saraswati Puja day.... then our Paa and the neighbourhood aunties said God has sent a beautiful gift to you, a living toy.... That evening, the daddy took me to the RG Kar Medical hospital.... and wow what is that on my lap.... who else but my little brother ! As he grew older, history repeated.... every six months new names poured into my ears..... Babita, Nilanjana or may be a Konica ..... I had to deal it with patience while his "T dada" said you are looking for a Videocon washing machine.... not possible.... Then we got someone for him who is not a Sonam Kapoor who the birthday boy dreamt of but someone who got mad with the demise of her paa-in-law.... assembles all his financial papers at one place and does the needful .... forcefully includes my name as the joint owner of the daddy's home even after repeated denial from our side.... the Almighty deserves several thanks from me... truly! Coming to Pricilla, Nikhita, Punita, I could not think otherwise but to be a facilitator.... before I close my eyes I would definitely wish to hold one collar and say... listen, I had a mind too, but I lost the address of the person a couple of decades back! So far Babita, Nilanjana, Konica are concerned, well I had to play the role of a strict elder sister. Yet the food blogger sister has to give her little brother a treat.... may be with a BHINDI BEGUN JIREY KANCHA LANKA BATA DIYE ILISH ER PATLA JHOL! Let me tell you, the above discussed people do not have any connections whatever ..... when I speak of the mother and that 'another woman," I definitely do not wish to connect them as such, they have hardly met few times in life! ..... I do not believe in forced matches ..... I wish to compile tales of people who I met at different stages of my life..... the only common factor hence is "me"...... There is another celebration back home too.... the senior's sister is celebrating their 12th Marriage Anniversary at Puri now.... the duo are ardent travellers who travel at least 3-4 times per year.... trekking mostly! This girl had always given me the place of an elder sister, love my parents, a good friend to my brother..... her trekker husband is a wonderful cook too...... a mutton dish would have been great but they equally love ilish .... so a BHINDI BEGUN JIREY KANCHA LANKA BATA DIYE ILISH ER PATLA JHOL for their long life. This society approves  only of things that has been made legal..... birthdays of dear ones, marriage anniversary, friend anniversary, baby shower.... let us keep the rest of the "do nots" confined to Bollywood, "I likes it".... There is a mind.... a soul in each one of us... and it reserves the right to celebrate anything within it.... a rain, a bloom or whatever.... no one stops.... As of me, I celebrate mango, mutton and ilish anytime.... haha....

Today I really wished to go with something the family loves, which is not much elaborate. The son does have ilish these days, in fact prefers it fried, loves its eggs more, given the mother de bones it! There is a severe back pain that I have developed recently.... Folks.... be careful when you take weights in the gym.... it should match your capacity.... the last week had been too much for my stomach to take.... "pithe puli, ilish, mutton to khichuri, luchi, payesh, labra, naru!.... Oats is giving me acidity... sorry to say.... this giant sized stomach was not built to digest oats.... then some heavy weights in the gym did not help much but caused an injury perhaps..... You are not an idiot like me and should know how to take care of yourself! Long back I heard people of a particular district of West Bengal prepare ilish / Hilsa curry with bhindi / okra / dhyarosh.... may be with green chilli-mustard paste! Google search did not help me in this matter much..... so I prepared a very light curry with minimal spices, okra and eggplants .... and named it BHINDI BEGUN JIREY KANCHA LANKA BATA DIYE ILISHER PATLA JHOL. Like many other Bengali families, the senior's side of the family has the ritual of not having ilish with the last "dhaker awaz".... that is the last day of Durga Puja and resume again on the Saraswati Puja night...... the idea perhaps is to give them ample time to grow and breed. We hardly follow the ritual these days, I buy an ilish whenever I get to see one. Let me wish the people around  with a bowl full of BHINDI BEGUN JIREY KANCHA LANKA BATA DIYE ILISH ER PATLA JHOL and be a part of the celebration!

Ilish / Hilsa : 7-10 pieces
Eggplant : 3-5 small sized [wash, discard the stem end and cut half]
Bhindi : 7-8
Cumin Powder : 2tsp [preferably freshly ground]
Green Chilli Paste : 2tbsp [adjust if so wish]
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp+1/2tsp
Salt : As Required
Nigella Seed : 1/2tsp
Green Chilli : 2-3 slitted
Oil : 2tbsp [Authentically Mustard Oil]


Wash the hilsa / ilish pieces thoroughly. Rub with 1tsp of turmeric powder and salt as much required. Keep aside for 1/2 an hour.

Rub salt to the washed and halved small sized egg plants just 3-4 minutes before you drop them in the curry, else they turn black. Ideally, we will cut them just 3-4 minutes before any use.

Wash the bhindis / okra / dhyarosh, take in a microwave proof bowlful of water adding little salt. Microwave at high power for 3-4 minutes. Discard the water or reserve to drink when cold.

Once the semi boiled bhindis are cold, cut the stem end and rub with little salt.

Take the cumin powder, green chilli paste, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and little salt in a small bowl and mix well, sprinkle little water to get a paste like consistency.

Heat oil in a wok and temper with nigella seeds. Add the spice paste and stir for a minute at low heat.

Add one coffee mug of water. Let boil for 3 minutes. Gently add the marinated fish pieces and halved egg plants. Add the marinade too!

Let boil covered at minimal heat for 3-4 minutes. Open cover and add the semi-boiled okras and the slitted green chillies. Cover cook again for 2 minutes. We are done. Serve hot with piping hot steamed rice!

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