Monday, 8 April 2019


Tell me who will treat me with this platter.... I can immediately feel the warmth of their hearts. Far far away from home, I really got a motherly touch last week at a newly made friend's place. All of my friends are nice, I mean I only take invitations when I think it is okay to visit someone's home and take forward the association. This particular lady had been following my blog for quite sometime, I knew her by name, saw her during Durga Pooja .... a very typical Bong beauty... so calm, so serene .... she did attract me but I am not in the habit of walking up to unknown people and talk. It was only a month ago that I got to meet this lady Neela Gupta through a big sister like Sumita di.... who is no less... she gifts me "goina bori" made by her mother & brothers' wives in their few acres of landed property... their ancestral home near Digha.... one of Bengal's tourist hotspot ... Mind it, "goina bori" is an art. Sumita di makes wonderful cereal prawns and mutton curry but I love her "bori, achar" more. I like Sumita di because she is not a show off, does not mince words, told straight on my face that her husband liked the "shukto" I got for them on an earlier visit more than the bread I got to their home recently. Actually, she keeps on telling that her husband & daughter do not like food... so on my recent visit I was not particular about what to take to her home. Her daughter is doing Civil Engineering here while Neela di's elder of the two daughters works in Mumbai with Zee TV... She is a travel vlogger, presenter, anchor and it seems Youtube is quite familiar with the name Ritwika Gupta... the proud mother asked me to follow her there... what is so wrong in that? Neela di's younger daughter is a real studious and totally into academics.... currently studying at NTU. What did I like in a Neela Gupta, her serene beauty? Not really, after may be 26 years of stay in this island.... she cooked this platter for us.... "sheem bhorta, kechki maacher chocchori, sabzi diye moong dal, thorer ghonto, shorshe bata diye koi maach, rui maacher kalia, aamer chutney".... I immediately got connected to her... only one dish was not a match with our family.... the 'shorshe bata koi' was done the 'edeshio' way... we "Bangals" do not add sugar to fish dishes and "shorshe bata" is really made hot among us adding lots of green chillies in it. Neela di is a wonderful cook and she greets her guests just the way the yesteryear women would do.... I love them.... any attempt to push them away calling them obsolete makes me angry.... I will stay strong beside them when it comes to choosing one... I mean most of the time I will do that.... may be with such a share KALOJEEREY BATA BEGUN DIYE ILISH..... a fish curry recipe with egg plants.

Okay, this particular recipe is an aberration of an authentic ilish / hilsa dish .... 'Barishali Ilish' made famous by Rukma Dakshi.... I have been following her for long.... since then when I used to read Sananda on a regular basis. I need to check with her "microovene ranna" series. Some paneer is been marinated for my lunch to be added to a salad.... that is a different issue. Me and the son love paneer, the husband eats without a fuss. The thing is that I cannot go ahead with a paneer recipe at the moment, what will happen to "him"? Who is that him? Don't tell me, since Saturday night I am having nightmarish dreams of a dear someone attempting suicide! Who is that dear someone? Why, you forgot about one Sailen Rudra.... he got very upset at the sight of paneer before Bengal's D-Day and attempted suicide. Freshly imported from Bangladesh in 1986, this boy from Sodhpur Ghola area made only one request to me... do not feed me paneer and soya chunks... please! We have not  met for long but anyone who would laugh at his accented "Bangal" lingo, I will have one thing to say.... he kept under his sleeves 35-40 crew members from different nationalities including the supremes for many years .... I love it... I love genuinity in people. I have to save his life... though I am unlike him who considers a Mac meal at 7:30pm just a "jolkhabar".... I had the below around 5:15 pm yesterday.... forced myself with some fruits at night.... Sailen cannot go to sleep without a plate of fish and rice.

Sailen's young & beautiful wife who struggles with her two young boys in Mumbai, who is unable to employ four helps like the way she had in Kolkata, at times complains to me.... "Shailen got home six kinds of fish including "puti and mourala"... when to cut and cook them".... By the way, Sailen can clean and cut small fish with scissors. There might be followers of mine who will get irritated, many have unfollowed and more may ... but I will not care.... If you do not understand my policy of coming to you in turns.... I will not beg of you.... please take your leave, I do not care! Yes, I will never ever beg anyone to stay, I do not believe in it.... if you are mine, you will stay and never leave.... if you have left.... you were never mine! I stay with those I wish to.... why? Did not I come across a perfecto "couple post" recently? I am yet to relay the conversation to the husband ... he is travelling and I am giggling alone... It is too much and I finally decide to keep the humour alive within both of us.... only that I warn the husband that "please mind your tongue.... you can be notched by a new age class who may think you are weighing down your wife all the time." While he keeps wondering when his mother and wife secured a degree in medical science, let me tell you that under the influence of Rukma Dakshi's Barishali Ilish, I prepared this light curry unwilling to add the coconut milk. It was very tough to powder the nigella seeds in a blender. There is a practise of cooking smaller sized fresh fish with nigella seeds / kalonji paste among us and also having nigella seeds paste with ghee or butter and hot rice. I remember, my mother gave me a bottle full of "kalojeerey" powder to have it with rice everyday after the son was born.... it gives relief when you have cough & cold, according to her it helps the stitches to dry early. Nonetheless to say that we loved this fish curry and I am planning to prepare this non vegetarian curry on a regular basis. We do not get good quality shad here... so stopped buying it... Ilish may belong to the Herring or Shad family but a Bengali will always stay true to ilish.... always.... I mean if you do not shy away from calling yourself a Bengali.

What am I planning for the D-Day?.....  not anything as simple as this fish curry KALOJEEREY BATA BEGUN DIYE ILISH .... I cannot cook complex.... but the share has to satisfy my ego.... it must.... I am alive till date for that... my ego, I will never let go of it!

I am roughly inspired by an Hilsa recipe from the renowned and veteran Rukma Dakshi, I used to love her sarees too!










This curry is light in texture and can be done with less oily ilish variety of 800-900gm size.... preferably fresh .... we get such supplies from the Mandai river of Burma....

Wash the pieces well but do not throw away the oil in the stomach, let them be or fry in oil separately. Have with hot rice and green chilli.

Marinate the fish pieces with 1tsp of turmeric, salt. Rub well and keep aside.

We will cut, wash and marinate the eggplant pieces with 1/2tsp of turmeric and salt as required just 5 minutes before adding it to the curry.

Now dry roast the kalojeerey for a minute at low heat and take down. Let cool and blend to a powder.

Take the nigella seeds powder in a bowl. Add a little salt and 1/2tsp turmeric to it. Add little water to get a paste.

Heat the oil in a wok. Temper with nigella seeds. Add the kalojeerey paste and stir not more than a minute. Add the slitted green chillies and give a stir.

Add 11/2 coffee mug of water and bring to a boil. Once the gravy has boiled for 3-4 minutes at low heat, add the marinated eggplants. Let it boil at low heat.

When the eggplant pieces are half done, gently add the fish pieces. Let it boil at low heat for 3-4 minutes. At this stage, you can add few more slitted green chillies and adjust the salt if required.

Try to have hot with piping hot steamed rice. We also had "palong er dal, bandhakopir ghonto and roshun phoron bhindi" alongside that they.... we really do not need anything when it is ilish on our plate!

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