Tuesday, 26 June 2018


It is not that I am lacking words today out of grief but I am thinking where to start from. Today's recipe post off course is to be dedicated to my deceased college buddy Chanchal Sen on behalf of the entire fraternity of Scottish Church College, Kolkata! He might have been our batch mate, but he belonged to the entire college... till last week he might have visited the college, he had been regular there... would chat with our very own "chipu da"..... the owner of the college stationary depot. Chanchal's death reminds me of our golden era .... He was closer to the rest of the gang... Swati, Gourab, Goutam, Jay, Sreemati to name a few... they were there in the hospital.... in the crematorium! I was thinking had I have listened to T, I could also be by his side in his last few hours. Swati said he would not have known , he was senseless ! I am not blaming the family, but it is a case of "self" negligence.... if you do not listen to your wife & well wishers, one cannot do anything... no one knows it better than me. Last year, I remember we all caught him in the lift after an adda session @ Manisquare Mall... "when will you stop having those Panparag?" That he was having stomach ache with fever often went undiagnosed, he continued to have food here, there, everywhere! He was that way always! He was selfless always! Else he would not have messed up with his life to this degree. T and Chanchal comes from the same family background, Chanchal still had his own home, T's father did not have one... This Chanchal type of guys lack farsightedness, they fail to plan & design their future course, they are silly enough to dedicate all their entire being to the rest of the world. I call this class "selfless".... In college, he hardly attended class.... he arranged picnics, was a dedicated worker  of the student union, always ready for "who needs what"..... so he failed to update status on Facebook... "Holidaying in Honolulu".... I may tell you that he was a happy soul, happy husband and father, a priceless friend.... some of his girlfriends were there in the crematorium too besides the boys... Swati said that a couple of juniors were also present! That is also a gift! I have literally "thrown out" people from my life who hummed into my ears 24/7 of a 2000 dollar bag or a weekly dinner at Hyatt.. Everything is required in life... but not to show off at all times! Why have I "thrown out?".... because I do not mingle with people for personal benefits! I should be able to get along!

Losing a friend aged 47 is untimely, painful.... more painful it is for his wife Debarati / Jhumpa.... and  their two kids... their teen girl can still remember his father... her little brother of eight may not... its hurting me! If I say, Chanchal was the younger of the two brothers, his wife  Debarati is the elder of  the two sisters, they have a tenth grader daughter and a 2nd grader son.... one  with a similar family graph need not be upset ... I am not really interested in any match game or no one will want a same fate as this poor girl Debarati Sen for others!.... I am just dedicating this humble recipe post of a very authentic Bengali dish BADAM DIYE LAL SHAKER GHONTO / RED AMARANTH & PEANUT MEDLEY / LAL CHAULAI AUR MUMPHALI KI SABZI to the memory of a friend .... doing so I have to take into account his family!.... We will flow with the waves, his wife has a struggle ahead, a big one..... although she is a Government employee! I hope you will understand that a Debarati is a plump, young, has to be a brave woman who I am talking about ... and not a hot chic or a Anupama, Anamika or Agnimitra.... Hence, you will be nice to me and not post beautiful family pictures... say in the lap of the Swiss Alps right at this moment! I am always eager to see them but not "now"... may be in sometime, you should not deprive me either .. 😊 .... For the rest of the blogging world or my other friends.... please go ahead with a truffle, berry compote topped chocolate cake, Europe-South Africa tour photos, mutton korma, salmon herb bake.... Chanchal Sen is not your friend... I meant it! We are also going for a tour in two weeks, tickets are done, once back I will share pictures too with an apology note to Chanchal & Debarati! Our family knows, yet a gentle reminder... our friends are very important in our life.... and why not? Beside our father's death bed to his funeral pyre were my / our friends, even the brother's wifes' friends.... the brother may get angry... but it is true that he had his entire team of office colleagues.... but friends? very few! When we were attending our father's funeral, here in this island... a Kaushik Neogy, a Sanak Chottopadhay, a Soumya Bhattacharya were there at the doctor's chamber with T's parents... with them for shopping, at home to give them company.... No, three of their wives did not update their profile pictures with their husbands the next day! Anyway, Our parents may well be our world but should not be the "only" world.... if so, you miss many a finer things in life.... This too is learnt from a big heart, deceased old man! Few of his friends cheated on him, yet he did not stop believing in the term friendship.... In my mother's own words..... flocks of unknown people visited our home after his death.... that is important.... life should not be I, Me, Myself at all times. Perhaps, his influence made the daughter make her choose her husband diligently.... a "rare" case of "wisdom" who does not control his wife's life, does not expect his wife to kiss his feet all the time.... far from being a patriarch.... he seems so to the wife only when he refuses to buy her gold jewelry 😀. He is just like Swati's husband.... who is not bothered about Swati arranging get-together among friends every now and then, Chanchal was the kind who visited her home anytime without a phone call.... and her husband Kalyanda did not hit her with his belt.... he does not have time, he has a business to handle! What if I had been there in Kolkata now and I had a family get together on the day of Chanchal's death? Off course I would have been in the hospital and then at the crematorium instead of attending the family gathering.... the husband would not have used his shoes on me and vice versa! One who suffers from insecurities behaves otherwise.... each one has their own place in one's life! Me talking so much about Swati may make others unhappy.... can anyone deny that she binds all of us together! You must clap for our school friends too.... look how lovely they are.... they are not tagging me or Chandrayee in any such post that concerns school friends.... they know this is not the right time.... they know we are there for each other when required! If my boyfriend has expired, I will not kiss my girlfriends either... give me few days of time... its not fair... Coming to the food aspect, our son who should love spinach does not wish to touch it these days.... perhaps the mother fed it to him too much during his childhood days.... how does it matter if he does not eat BADAM DIYE LAL SHAKER GHONTO / RED AMARANTH & PEANUT MEDLEY / LAL CHAULAI AUR MUMPHALI KI SABZI? .... He will understand that this blog is not a family affair... it will celebrate & document varied kinds of life and people as and when required! The husband does eat all kinds of spinach, he is a 70's kid and not a pathetic case like the son. As of the brother, he was not taught to face any hardship, to mingle and adjust with the world... So long he takes good care of his mother which he does pretty well... I will not be bothered.... though I wished him to be very different from what he is... He hardly feels for others except for his immediate family... it hurts... so shares will not be in his likeliness at all times.

We have always been told since childhood that eating spinach / greens is very good... it is perhaps the only thing I love prescribed by the eye-surgeon for a "tezdar" eyesight... I will place a question to my very expert and informative friends in the food world.... are all leafy greens called spinach or only "palong"?... Till date I am confused! Just like the people of this island, Bengalis or say many Indians are in the habit of eating a variety of greens. At our home too... the mother did "notey shak to lal shak to shorshe shak to shish-palonger chocchori".... I miss that "shish palong".... overgrown "palak" in this island... When I see a Bengali blogger sharing a "shish palonger chocchori".... I feel like being a "Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen".... to be able to eat what I wish when... Likewise, I love this BADAM DIYE LAL SHAKER GHONTO / RED AMARANTH & PEANUT MEDLEY / LAL CHAULAI AUR MUMPHALI KI SABZI .... Using peanuts in it may not be authentic of our family but I have seen many families of West Bengal origin add peanuts to red and green amaranth! What our mother did was adding a spoonful of poppy seed to it towards the end... which is not possible you know sitting in this island.... so I skipped. For this non-spicy, spinach medley we literally need very few ingredients like nigella seeds, dry red chilli, slitted green chilli, minced garlic, salt and turmeric! There may be many happenings around... but I will always focus on what is most important to me "at this moment" .... hence this is my small tribute to the soul of our deceased friend... one day I / we will follow him.... the blog posts will stay celebrating life & friendship! 


Red Amaranth : 2big bunch [root ends discarded, thinly chopped, washed]
Peanut : 10-12 [halved]
Dry Red Chilli : 1[halved]
Green Chilli : 1-2 [slitted]
Minced Garlic : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Nigella Seed : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Mustard Oil : 1tbsp [you can use any]


Neither me or Cristine can chop the spinach as thinly as was done by the yesteryear Bengali ladies with a "boti"... it was fine artistry. We just manage it with a knife.

I might had stepwise pictures but not really in the mind to search them... I have not done lal shak in 2-3 months!

I thought of cooking something for my friend and dedicate it to his departed soul... but I have not cooked since Sunday... 

This should be fine... look at the picture... a deceased man with a surviving wife... and those peanuts are his friends .... as our friend Nandita Sinha from California comments... he will live among us through his wife and kids !

Anyway, after we have chopped the red amaranth discarding the root ends, we will take it in a big strainer and wash thoroughly.... at least 7-8 times! There is hidden dust particles.

Let all the water drain. Heat mustard oil in a wok and fry the peanuts at very low heat for a minute, take out. 

Temper the oil with the nigella seeds, minced garlic and a halved dry red chilli. 

Once the minced garlic turns light brown, add the thinly chopped, washed red amaranth leaves and add to the wok.

Add very little salt and turmeric, stir and cover.

It will release a lot of water, let it cook for 8-10 minutes at low heat. After that open cover and cook. 

When it is about to dry, just 3-4 minutes before taking down.... add the slitted green chillies and peanuts. Add salt if only it is required!

Once dry, stir well and take down. I never dry it totally as is done at many homes... so named it "ghonto" and not "bhaja".... 

We always have it with steamed rice, you can try with ruti / chapati too!

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