Wednesday, 10 October 2018


 Life is good so long I retain the energy to carry on with the time consuming process of an ILISH PATURI ....  a "bong's" sweetheart! Bengalis who do not eat ilish are aliens to me.... we surely are not in speaking terms.... I am as surprised to hear some Bengalis' aversion towards Hilsa, its as surprising as watching the alien supremo Hrithik Roshan jumping from the 22nd floor and not hurting himself.... haha!! I hear some people are diehard fan of him....  they should have spent more time on the internet searching for some remedies for hair growth .... We do watch Hrithik movies, his alien avatar during the feeding sessions with my toddler helped me a lot.... however, the memories of those nightmarish feeding sessions did not let me have the courage to have one more kid.... a wrong decision altogether. Anyway, though I watched almost all the movies of Roshan junior, I perhaps liked only one.... Guzaarish... where his six packs did not supersede his acting capability! Ilish / Hilsa is just that to me... over use of spices in it spoils it! I love a variety of fresh water fish but hilsa has no equal... Within the periphery of Bengal... no other fish can supersede it... talking about both sides of Bengal! My health conditions does not permit me to have rice as much as I wish to... else I would have rice meals at least three times a day.... breakfast would have been "begunbhaja, aloobhaja, rui / katla bhaja... ghee / makhon bhaat, kanchalanka"..... lunch would have been "ilish bhaja o tel, ilisher patla jhol, ilisher matha diye lau ghonto".... dinner would have been "fulkopi-aloo diye aar maach, choto tyangrer peyaz chocchori, patla mushur dal, lebu-lanka-peyaz being a constant"..... The Almighty could have been a little more kind to me! You see I cannot work hard towards a well-built body, such is my food habit or preferences, I just cannot switch totally to what the world calls "healthy food"..... I belong to families to whom Bengali Food is the ultimate! So, to be able to continue with my bowls of "maach bhaat"... I got a packet of Chia Seed yesterday and had it for the first time in life an hour back! Honestly, I liked it... if only I get to eat it with my choice of fruits like banana, mango, jackfruit, etc. Very young guava [dasha peyara] and watermelon do I keep to eat entirely as a fruit! What about having a lunch today with watermelon, guava and an egg white omelette?.... All for having two tablespoon rice with "gathikochu-chingrir dalna".... for dinner! You see of the "palak chicken" and "dal palak".... I prepared for a dear someone last Saturday, I could have only the palak gravy and a neck piece, neither the mutton quality here is satisfying.... the senior wishes me to switch over to lamb totally.... which lacks the fat... "ahh chorbir bora khaini kotodin"..... I am just waiting for my December visit to Kolkata.... to have "kochi patha to choto tyangra-kajoli to bata maach" everything that is quintessentially Bengali! After 20 days, while sitting on the return flight... I realise that I could not spend quality time with my family! People there see me loitering at CityCentre2 all day, what they do not see is me buying piles of medicines, taking the son for titenus doses, scaling of his teeth or getting him new spectacles or buying dozens of under garments for the husband and son, getting the house repaired, running to get the pressure cooker repaired and lot more, make a grocery list and send to the shop outside our back gate! What does your husband do S? Oh yes, a lot... watches television, accompany me to the bank and flies back within 12 days without enquiring who the wife is talking to so much over phone, asking if there is any problem or not ... the wife makes frantic calls to the maintenance... send the plumber, electrician... nothing is working... "Alam, why is the cable connection not working? .... dada cannot watch cricket, football, news"..... Then if you have a stupid kind of sibling, he would irritate you further cribbing that didibhai does not stay enough in Barrackpore.... aww, who will set the things in my humble 1400 sq.ft. if I go and stay in their no fancy palace?... Then, I hear people land at the airport, get a readymade bed, wifi connection, have scrumptious breakfast, lunch, dinner.... click "chashi mashi selling lau, kumro, shaak".... and dive straight into Bengali Hearts diligently... some will visit the Kolkata Museum .... take a horse ride around the maidan... tell the kids "I was born in this city but cannot think of staying here for more than two weeks".... then make a trip to Bangalore and Goa, Mumbai and Pune, Delhi-Shelli .... stay in Hyatt and Taj ... then would ask me ... "I own 3-4 homes / landed property here and there, 2-3 cars for me and my happening spouse... next the silence on the other side means asking me what I have... Instead of saying we just have a decent flat in Kolkata and some savings for the kid's education, that the husband did not even pay for my nose correction surgery, never agreed to pay for the bills of a slimming centre or for some skin rejuvenation.... you know the kinds I had been jealous of since age 12... I preferred hanging up the phone... thereafter, I never did enquire about the increasing number of cars and property of that person ... whats the point... we do not have! "Cristine, get my "chai-pakora" dear"... I am full of contradictions with a pot full of ego inside ... just like that combination of chia pudding and "chai pakora" on the same table... haha...

The casually taken above photographs are no filtered ones... what else do you expect from a cell phone operated by a "non-photographer"... everyone who clicks is not a photographer... that is a degree too... needs research, practice, patience... I lack all!

I thought of a light hilsa / ilish curry I did with a little twist last Saturday, then decided to go ahead with this non vegetarian, a little time consuming fish dish.... ILISH PATURI.... Am I naughty?.... it depends on my mood, not a bad soul either.... with a Cristine like help, I can cook wrapped stuffs everyday... I mean I do not have patience tying the knots. I myself do prefer a "shorshe narkol ilish" in the microwave more often than going through the process of wrapping.... I must tell you the two will not taste all the same.... a meat curry slow cooked in an earthen pot will taste different from the one cooked in a pressure cooker. If you have time, always go for the slow cooking method.... I totally agree with our mother in this matter... As I always say.... she may disown me and adopt the ones who prepare their own batches of ghee, pickle, spices in mortar & pestle, who work without helps and yes academically sound boys and girls! I still have to hear that I had been a born lazy.... how she wished her daughter to be a working woman.... she was all praise of me during the period when I was struggling alone with my toddler.... a struggle that feels too sweet these days.... I miss those days... someone does not have time to sit and talk to me anymore.... better to read, do some  walking, cook and go for coffee sessions to unwind myself as I did last Sunday! Once back, the husband told that instead of taking a train, I should have driven.... aha... that means he wished to be a part of the coffee session.... haha! To that I told that people should be given the time for ice-breaking.... if one starts doing too much of serious talks, people may get repulsive... all in good time with "luchi-porota-polao"... fresh and hot! As of now, I had to go ahead with this Durga Pooja goodie... I will not call it special... perhaps all Bengali bloggers have blogged on this very common fish dish by now! Its Navaratri going on.... I know the right people will do the needful. Get your green chilli-mustard paste, grated coconut ready and come with me to know what magic the fish oil and a good quality mustard oil does to this dish of hilsa wrapped in banana leaves ILISH PATURI!


Ilish / Hilsa : 5-6 pieces [from a fish weighing a little more than a kilogram]
Black Mustard Seed : 2tsp
Green Chilli : 6-7 [choose yours]
Garlic Clove : 1
Grated Coconut : 1/2small cup
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp + 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Ice Cubes : 2-3 [does not let the paste turn bitter]
Mustard Oil [must for this dish among us] : 3-4tbsp + 1tsp for each piece of the fish + 2tbsp


Wash the fish pieces thoroughly under running water after we get rid of any remaining scales.

Pat dry and apply 1tsp of turmeric powder and salt as required on them, rub well. Keep aside for 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, prepare a paste from the black mustard seeds that we had soaked for an hour and then strained, washed green chillies, garlic clove, little salt, 1/4th small cup water, ice cubes.

Add the spice paste, shredded coconut, 3-4tbsp mustard oil, 1/4tsp turmeric powder and little salt to the fish pieces. Fold in well and keep aside for 1/2 an hour!

Now, we will cut the banana leaves into medium sized squares, wash and pat them dry. Place 1 piece of hilsa atop each piece, just in the middle.... Cover with some marination... drizzle a tsp of oil.

Fold the banana leaf from all sides and tie either with cotton thread or with the thread like fibre of the banana leaf. The tying part was done by Cristine entirely. In her absence, I will.

Heat a frying pan atop a gas stove, grease with 2tbsp of oil... Place the wrapped pieces of fish on it. Reduce heat.

We will cook one side for 12-14 minutes .... then turn over and cook the other side for another 8-10 minutes at minimal to low heat.

Let them be for another 10 minutes after we have switched off. Now open cover and serve with piping hot steamed rice! We also had an "aloo-chicken curry" and "dal" served with chapati on that day!

We must be very careful while wrapping, the leaves should not tear... else the spices will spill.