Infusion and Sherbet in Boipara, Kolkata

The second food trail I would suggest if you are in Kolkata during summers is to hop around Boipara. Boipara is a neighbourhood of books. And Calcutta boasts one such boipara which bears the imprint of the colonial pasts, reform movement as well as the student movement that rocked the 70s. It is the epicentre of some of the finest schools, colleges and needless to say books. M.G. Road named after Mahatma Gandhi connects College Street to Howrah Station and Sealdah station, the two stations that hosts thousands of trains. As you walk by the lanes of College Street / Boipara, you will be welcomed into the world of books by numerous hawkers rattling off latest testpapers for Madhyamik/ Uchhamadhyamik, guidebooks that will help you sail through JEE/ PMT/IIT as well as I.C.S.E., I.S.C test papers. Stalls are painted with white, blue and yellow to announce the latest arrivals and the treasure house of most of these stalls lie in the stack of piled old books. Amidst these book stalls, there are some famous places to eat, chat and debate, perfect adda places.
One of the legendary institutions in College Street is the Coffee House. As one makes way through the stairs, posters of various student organisations lead you to the first floor and no trip to Coffee House is complete without a cup of Infusion. It will take you an entire day to taste what is available on the menu and my favourite picks are Chicken Kobiraji and Chicken Cutlet. In my last visit to Coffee House, I braved the rains and waited for a friend who was visiting the city. Both of us made our way to Coffee House and polished off the Chicken Cutlet and Infusion and after an adda which ranged from Malaysia’s politics to my careers I told A that we are going to Paramount.
interiors paramount

Paramount needs no introduction to my friends and colleagues from Kolkata. This legendary institution by late Nihar Ranjan Majumdar has been selling home-made drinks since 1918. A and I sit occupy one of the benches and we ask for a menu.
menu
The menu arrives and we are spoilt for a choice to have close to special drinks made from pulp of passion fruit, mango, tender coconut, strawberry, pineapple and others. For cream lovers there is cream rose, cream lemon, cream lemon and even cream lassi. Both of us settled for Dab Sarbat( a drink made from tender coconut).

dab serbet
Dab Sarbat reminded me of a custom of buying school text books in summer holidays in College street followed by a stop over at Paramount. I convince A to order Dab Sarbat. As we sip our drinks, an elderly gentleman walks up to us and ask us if we liked the drink. A tells him its her first visit and she really likes it and asks about the recipe. The gentleman sits down with us and shares a fascinating journey of Paramount. The gentleman is none other than Mrigendu Majumdar. He tells us that Tender Coconut Sarbat was created under the guidance of famous scientist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray. He points to the framed picture of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray and tells that without his inputs this flavourful sarbat could not be created.
acharya prafulla chandra ray

He sources tender coconut from Basirhat for this special sarbat. Mrigendu Majumdar by training is a lawyer and has been instrumental in introducing a new drink that caught our eyes- Passion Fruit Drink. He recommended us to try out the signature Tamarind Drink to beat the heat. This legendary institution of drinks was also an important meeting point of revolutionaries who gathered here for meetings. Then, ‘it was known as Paradise’, tells Mr Majumdar. By 1937, British came to know of Biplobi Sammilani Samiti and Paradise was renamed as Paramount. Paramount has come a long way and as Mrigendu Majumdar prepares himself to leave for distant shores to take Paramount to non resident fans he shares of plans of celebrating 100 years of Paramount in a big grand way. Paramount will be 100 in 2018 and he plans to introduce new drinks as well as put on various memorabilia at display. A and I promise that we will be back in 2018 and wait for the new surprises.

paramount
Paramount
For bulk orders call Mr. Majumdar @ 9674215355
1/1/1 D Bankim Chatterjee Street, Kolkata 73.
Email : paramountsherbet@gmail.com
Website:www.paramountsherbet.com
Check Menu: http://www.paramountsherbet.com/our-menu.html

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In the land of rolls and cutlets

I apologise to itiriti’s readers for staying away from blogging. Deadlines kept me away from blogging for few months. As I revive my plan to blog once again, I bring to you a series of food walks that you could undertake if you are planning to visit City of Joy. Let me confess that it is not the best time to be visiting Kolkata due to the increasing mercury levels as well the humidity. Still, the city’s lifeline lies in the evening strolls along the ghats of Hooghly river.
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On one such evening DP, SM and I ventured out to Bagbazar Ferry Ghat. The ghat is well connected to Sovabazar, Howrah Railway station through the ferry service. As we waited at the jetty enjoying the cool breeze, we tried out one of the wonderful street food that you can enjoy along the ghats- Ghotigaram.
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Ghotigaram takes its name from the heap of coal cakes that keeps the bhujia mix warm as the hawker carries it around in a recycled oil tin with several aluminium cups with chopped onions, cucumber, amra, chat masala, salt, chopped chillies and a bottle of oil. Ghotigorom is available for Rs 5 and Rs 10. Newest addition to add a crunchy flavour is chopped carrots.
Take a stroll, work on your appetite and head off to Allen Kitchen on 40/1 Jatindra Mohan Avenue. If you are a non-user of google maps and rely on landmarks I suggest that you use Sovabazar metro station as a landmark to reach this legendary place. If you plan to take a walk along Bagbazar ghat and walk down to Allen you have to cross metro station and keep on walking towards Girish Park Metro station. Another legendary place of cutlets (Mitra Café is on the opposite lane of Allen Kitchen). After you take a nice walk from Sovabazar metro station (towards Girish Park) you shall spot the blue board welcoming you.
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Allen Kitchen is known for its Prawn Cutlet. You should trek down to Allen to soak up nostalgia, skip the coolness of your air conditioner and dig into one of the many versions of cutlets the city has to offer. Cutlets are part of the colonial legacy and the city’s obsession with cutlets, steak and kabiraji have gave birth to many a legendary institution. Allen’s Prawn Cutlet is fried in a brand of ghee that many of us might be familiar with. Lakshmi Ghee is a well-known brand of clarified butter made from cow milk.
prawn cutlet edit
Usually synonymous with luchi this cutlet smells divine and we could not wait to dig into the juicy prawn coated in a nicely salted coating. This simple coating enhances the prawn and smell of Lakshmi ghee lingers on. Served with salad (chopped onions, cucumber and green chillies), kashundi ( mustard sauce indigenous to Bengal) prawn cutlet remains a stealer because of its simplicity.

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We also ordered steak (mutton) which comes with an interesting sauce high on ginger paste. While I leave to your imagination why and how this steak came to be served in Allen Kitchen, its time to get back to work.

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©itiriti

“There is no love greater than the Love of Eating”: Revisiting good old Mocambo

P and I decided to stop over for lunch at the good old “Mocambo” after the first phase of the sight-seeing we had arranged for P’s relatives. After visiting Victoria Memorial, St.Paul’s Cathedral we headed straight to Park Street.  Park Street houses some of the good old restaurants and continues to add glamour to the city of Joy’s night life. Despite the malls that dot the city’s landscape, Park Street continues to attract the city’s food lovers and no travel to Kolkata is complete without a stopover at Park Street.

This place has never disappointed my taste buds and it has an old world charm of its own. Though its decors are criticised for being too bright, I really love the red sofas and chairs.  Since we were a group of five, we were given the corner table. Even in weekdays the restaurant was brimming with foodies. P and I share a love for food so A kept on teasing us with why we keep coming back to Mocambo as it helps us reaffirm our principle-  “There is no love greater than the Love of Eating”. We started our meal with soup. We ordered Cream of Tomato Soup, Cream of Asparagus and Cream of Crab Meat. While Cream of Crab Meat tasted good, the cream of asparagus was full of cornstarch. Infact the base of the soup of Crab Meat and Asparagus tasted the same. After a bumpy start we headed for your main course.

We ordered the following:-

  1. Cheese and Spinach Pillows
  2. Vegetable Surprise ( Rice and some vegetables)
  3. Chicken Ala Kiev
  4. Fish Steak
  5. Cold Everest
  6. Mango King

Please skip the soups. While they are served in brass bowls, they taste like soups made out of ready-made soup packets. Soups were a huge disappointment!

Chicken Ala Kiev is not a dish for the faint hearted calorie watchers. If you are brave enough to enjoy the butter flow like a gush of stream from the deeply fried chicken breast, you will enjoy this dish. Though I have an emotional bonding with Oly Pub’s Chicken Ala Kiev as well, Mocambo’s Chicken Ala Kiev has never disappointed me.

Chicken Ala Kiev

Chicken Ala Kiev

Sinful butter

Sinful butter

Fish Steak continues to be another favourite.

fish steak

And both the desserts were the perfect end to a happy meal.

Cold Everest

Mango King

Mango King

After the lunch we were ready to explore the story telling museum of Kolkata’s rich history housed in Town Hall. This Museum is treat for all those who want to soak in the socio-cultural history of Kolkata. Though the voiceover is available in Bengali, the guided tours are available in Hindi and English.  The Museum opens at 10am and closes by 6pm. Ticket counter closes by 5pm.

Town Hall, Kolkata

Town Hall, Kolkata

If you want to share your gastronomic experience in city of Joy do drop in a line… till then happy cooking, happy exploring and happy eating…

©itiriti

Beyond Rice, Dal and Phish : Padmaparer Rannaghar

I have been on an eating spree ever since I stepped my foot in Kolkata. Simulataneously I have been struggling with a section of a long overdue chapter which was supposed to be in my supervisor’s mail box quite a while ago. Instead, I have been drowning my sorrow of  loss of words, sentences in tasting and feasting.

My partner in crime DP lured me to try this place tucked away in the bustling streets of Gariahat. Anybody who is familiar with Kolkata neighbourhoods and is well versed with haggling has interned in Gariahat. Though Gariahat streets wear a comparatively deserted look before the (in)famous Operation Sunshine to remove Hawkers from pavements still you will find rows of neatly arranged good starting from crockery to pillow covers in the pavements of Gariahat. There are several tricks to crack your deal in Gariahat and every house in Kolkata can vouch for a “bargaining expert” who got the best deal in Gariahat and a worst buyer who could never managed to reduce a penny. Nevertheless, street shopping continues to remain an integral part of Kolkata like its street food culture. One of the street food culture is pice hotel. Though I am personally unaware of the gensesis of the word “pice” hotel in Bengal’s gastronomic street food culture, pice hotels are integral to eating out cultures in former Calcutta ( now Kolkata).

Usually pice hotels serve rice, dal, fish at a nominal rate and there are several hotels around Sealdah and other pockets of North Kolkata.

Check out the following entry by Nandini Dutta on Pice Hotels

http://nandinidutta.blogspot.in/2012/10/pice-hotels.html

Though visit to pice hotels have become rare I crave for the food served at Pice hotels. There are dedicated Pice hotels to satiate the “East Bengal cuisine”  known as Bangal food and dedicated places for Ghoti food or cuisine from West Bengal. Despite being a MohunBugun fan I have shared a fancy for Bangal food when it came to Pice hotels around Marquis Street.

Padmaparer Rannaghar is a restaurant tucked away in the lanes of Gariahat. Padma- the river that flows across Bangladesh also acts as the symbol of “Bangal” Cuisine. For instance some people prefer Hilsa from Padma over Hilsa from Ganges. Padma is symbolic of Bangal identity and food in particular. Hence Padmaparer Rannaghar is an apt name for a restaurant that mostly serves Bangal food.  DP and I headed towards this restaurant sharp at 1 O’ Clock.

DP and her family have become regular visitors of this restaurant. DP insisted that I should read the rather metaphorical and rhyming menu which can be deciphered by someone who knows how to read and write Bangla. The menu can be lost in translation. So if you are a non- Bengali speaker you have to make do with the translation services of your waiter and will miss out on the food-metaphors and the generous use of adjectives in the Menu.

For people familiar with Bengali, here are some instances from the Menu

Machcher Mukta Kanther Dal ( a Dal prepared with Fish head)

Anarasher Madhyamani Pulao ( a Pulao prepared with Pineapples)

Dugdhadhabal Murir Pulao ( Chicken Pulao)

Manshabandi Dhakar Biryani ( Biryani cooked in Dhaka style)

My morbid translations cannot match the food metaphors and I am afraid I might land with up a rather funny literal translation.  After browsing through the rather long menu what struck me was the balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian items. Infact I would strongly recommend this place to my vegetarian friends who crave for Bengali vegetarian delicacies. They have a wide variety of greens or sag preparation ranging from Pui Shak, Palak , Kachu Sag, Kalmi Sag and Lal sag. You can start off your meal with a sag before heading for Shukto ( a bitter dish ) and then a wide variety of Subzi based Dal.

What surprised me was the Dim Diye Jasorer Daler Stew ( A  Dal-Stew preparation from Jessore). While I am a huge fan of fish head Dal preparation common in Bengali households I had never heard of  Egg based Dal preparation and we decided to take a chance. As I geared up to order some Sag DP warned me against it. Apparently Rice is served with Kachubata( Colocasia or referred to as Arvi in Hindi) and fried Kalmi greens ! Being a die-hard fan of Dal-posto combination,  I had to enjoy my Dal and Rice with some Posto(poppy seeds) preparation; so we ordered Dekhan Hasi Narkel Posto ( a Poppy seed based preparation with potato and grated coconut).  We thoroughly enjoyed the Dal with sliced boiled eggs and sliced carrots adding colour and texture to the dal. A Must try!

DP missed her Fries and ordered Nanan Bhajar Bhojananda ( which is a mix of fried vegetables). You can skip this.

Finally  three nonvegetarian items followed: Chital Pristharakhya Ananda Muitya ( a Chitol Fish Preparation), Kachi Pathar Dildaria Jhol ( Mutton Curry) and Morola Machcher Tak ( A Tangy preparation of Morola Fish). DP recommended the Chitol and Mutton Curry and I insisted on ordering the last preparation. Morola Macher Tak could have been a little more tangy.

We finished our meal with Malpua which was rather chewy. Except the sweet dish and the fries I can go back again to savour the same delicacies particularly the  Dal and the Posto.

In a nutshell, this place translates the pice hotel menu into an AC eating out place for a nominal price. We paid Rs 650 including a tip of Rs 20 for the grand feast. The staff is quite helpful and next time I am settling down for a nice helping of Dab Chingri ( A prawn preparation served in tender coconut). But the star dish of the entire meal was Kachu Bata which was complimentary!!!!!! If you enjoy the luxury of staying in the neighbourhoods of Kolkata head to this place for a lunch break after you are tired with your street shopping @ Gariahat. For all non- Kolkata foodies this place is worth a visit and add to your wish list.

Padmaparer Rannaghar:  26/4, Hindustan Park Ground Floor, Gariahat Junction, Gariahat, Kolkata-29. Phone : 933149590

©itiriti

Bengali by soul and Bohemian by Nature

I have been longing to visit Bohemian ever since I browsed their exciting menu on Zomato, an excellent review from D and D’s family and the post by Ishita Unblogged (http://ishitaunblogged.com/2013/01/06/bohemian-in-kolkata-where-food-really-does-cabaret-on-senses/).

For all those who are planning a trip to Kolkata and love to experiment with the staple Bengali fare please head to Bohemian. The food is experimental and Bohemian in spirit, the decor complements the fusion-food. Postcards of Beatles, Baez hanging all along the Bohemian long glass windows with glass jars of  sealed spices neatly arranged in a row.  We had booked in advance for our Saturday Lunch here.

There are few places which leave you chirpy with a bright decor and Bohemian manages to crack that. Located in a lane of  Ballygunge Phari and at a walking distance from Ballygunge Phari  it enjoys the advantage of a rather silent neighbourhood and yet easily accessible. So, if you are a fan of quite lunch and dinner away from the cacophony of Kolkata hotspots please head to Bohemian. If you are a foodie, head to Bohemian to see how creative one can get with ginger and fennel, Panchphoron ( Bengali five wholesome spices) and even nigella seeds ( Kaloojeere as we call in Bengali). The Menu Card is quite interesting as it begins with a prelude to Rancho and the journey of Bohemian spirit followed by a list of what Bohemian has to offer. The long list of starters is well balanced and even if your friends are vegetarian they have quite an interesting list of choices.  The menu has a balance of vegetarian and non – vegetarian dishes. Besides that, for any non- Bengali speaking person the Menu is self –explanatory. Despite retaining the Bengali food metaphors not everything gets lost in translation!

Three of us (S, M and I) settled for the following

Starters : For starters we ordered Paanchphoron Flavoured Chicken Escallops and  Chilli Pickle and Cheese Baked Prawns with Kalmi Greens. Since they did not have crabs they gave us prawns.  Though we were hesitant about the combination of Kalmi greens with cheese it was the best fusion inspired starter.  Itiriti recommends this dish for the starter.

must

Three of us decided to settle down for Oranga Aamada Sorbet. A must try !  I wish they cut down on the orange flavour and add more of Aaamada

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Main Course : While S headed for Joy’s special steak which was too sweet M and I settled for Bhetki fish preparation with Bengal berries ( Kul) and Bacon Wrapped Tilapia with Ginger and Fennel. Though the Bhetki preparation with Bengal Berries was innovative I wish it was a little spicy. The tangy texture of the Kul would have stood out if there was little more spice. The Bhetki fish was soft and melted in the mouth. It was served with plain rice but when I tried it with the coriander rice served with bacon wrapped tilapia it was much better. My bacon wrapped tilapia was the star dish of the table.  This dish is definitely worth a try.

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Desserts : Though we settled for Malpua Cheese Cake , SpicedMango Souffle the star dessert was Gangharaj Souffle.

I am definitely heading back to try out more fusion dishes and for all those who wants to have a twist to the usual Bengali ingredients settle down for a relaxed meal @ Bohemian. Please make a table reservation.

For menu,  visit http://www.zomato.com/kolkata/bohemian-ballygunge/menu#menutop.

Address: 32/4 Old Ballygunge 1st Lane, Ballygunge, Kolkata

©itiriti

Photos : Sarmistha

Blue Poppy @ City of Joy

(Itiriti: I invited Madhurilata to write about Blue Poppy, one of my latest hanging out places in City of Joy.   Madhurilata Basu  is a student of Political Science and is an independent researcher. She loves to travel and enjoys her food.  She takes you on a guided tour into the indoors of Blue Poppy.)

What is the shortest way to someone’s heart? While you keep on guessing, I would give my answer. It is always good food. But in today’s world good food comes with a big price and it becomes a rare occasion, when one can experience the unadulterated joy of having good food at a good price. But courtesy Blue Poppy, the exception has been changed into the norm. Embracing students, young professionals with their wide range of dishes and reasonably priced menu, it is located in Sikkim House in Middleton Street, near Loretto College and Gorkha Bhavan in Salt Lake, near City Centre I.  Young Calcuttans are lucky to have a place which serves Nepali, Bhutanese, Tibetan, Indian and Chinese cuisines under one roof and that too at a great price.

You can start off your gastronomical journey with Momos and if you are health conscious , you can also opt for the wide range of soups they offer. You can safely order Mixed Thenthuk or Mixed Phaktu. These Tibetan delights are homemade noodles served in a hot mixed soup.  However, my personal favourite is Pork Kothay , which is half steamed and half fried Momos. Do not forget to ask them for their famous chilly chutney, which should only be tried by the brave hearts for it is a sure killer. Instead of treading in one direction, my suggestion will be to have a mixed menu. A must have dish is Ema Dasi, that is cheese with chilly, and you can have it with steamed rice. This Bhutanese dish can be followed up with Pork Shapta (a Tibetan dish) or Pork with vegetables. The Nepali Thali is also worth trying.

One thing that is guaranteed is that Blue Poppy will definitely bring a smile to your face. A not-so-posh eating house but packed with young people is sure to make you smile. Blue Poppy opens at 8 am  and also serve breakfast like Egg and Toast or Puri Bhaji, for the boarders at both the Sikkim House and Gorkha Bhavan have breakfast there. Another good news is that owing to its popularity, it has started home delivery services in Salt lake only. However, in order to have the good food in your home, you have to wait till 5 pm.

College students flock the Blue Poppy in Middleton Street in great numbers. Owing to its proximity to City Centre I, where youngsters, in the absence of proper adda places in the region, have addas, for obvious reasons come to Blue Poppy to satisfy their hunger if they have extra cash in their pockets. The staff of Blue Poppy are friendly and their service is satisfactory. Do not be amazed if you find a long line outside. Just be patient, for it takes really less time for the good food to get over and before you can count till ten, it will be your turn to grab a table.  A meal for two can cost at around Rs 400. However, Blue Poppy’s food tastes best, provided you have a good company. Non-stop adda over the food is of course, free.

For menu of Blue Poppy

http://www.zomato.com/kolkata/the-blue-poppy-russel-street/menu; Accessed on 14 February 2013

©itiriti

Bazaars and beyond

If I want to revisit my momo memories in Nepal I want to own a perfect “Bazarer” bag to carry my fish purchases. A perfect “bazarer bag” can make all the difference in the kitchen.  In Kolkata, despite the water-logging problem I grew up watching my fathers and uncles take out their rusted bicycles during rainy season with their “bazarer bags”.

 Anybody familiar with the kitchen set up of a Bengali household will find these nylon bags beneath the sink . Two bags are neatly hanged on two separate hangers. One dedicated for the amish( non- vegetarian) raw ingredients and the other for niramish bazaar( primarily the vegetables). Onions and garlic usually came in a separate cloth bag.

As a kid my favourite subject for drawing competitions was Indian market place. In this pictorial representation of the “bazaar” I often drew a man standing next to a fish-seller selling fish of all sizes and kinds with a bag from where the greens would pop out and the bloated bottom of the bag had stacks of potatoes, and other vegetables.

Though shopping malls and organised retail outlets have made an entry into the Kolkata, nothing can beat the vibrancy of walking through hordes of fish lined up in series of rows with enough space for the customer to stand, order and take the freshly cut fish in their “machcher bag”. Machch is the Bengali word for Fish. I always had a fetish for carrying the “fish bag” whenever I accompanied my father to “Manicktala Market” or “Rani Rashmoni Market” (two noted markets of North Kolkata).

Our secret trips to Manicktala market was accompanied by a brisk breakfast of  Kachori ( fried bread) and alur tarkari( potato curry) in a sweet shop by the name Thakurer Dokan in Rashmoni Bazaar, Beleghata. If you manage to reach the shop by 9.30 am one was sure to find some space in the bench which has been there since the inception of the shop. The Kachories are made of Biuli Dal and their Potato Curry is made with freshly ground ginger, cumin and secret touch of love. The un-peeled small cubes of potatoes are thrown into the big kadai and all the spices are added, with a generous touch of turmeric, adequate salt and a pinch of sugar to finish this simple curry which can never be reproduced in our kitchens. After having this brisk breakfast and packing two jalebis( fried Indian sweet) to satiate my sweet appetite we headed towards Manicktala Market– a paradise for the fish lovers.

The enticing part about Manicktala market is the smell of various kinds of fish. Whenever guests came to visit us in winters I anxiously waited for my father’s approval to take me to the fish-y den; where fishes were sold and traded in thousands, and even more. My father believed that you could get Fresh Prawns ( Galda Chingri) at any time of the year in Manicktala and the best variety of Hilsa, Topse and Morola can only be found in Manicktala. My mother for all practical reasons hated when my father bought chotto mach (small sized fish) like Morola and Putti because it took her almost an hour to clean these fishes or to supervise the cleaning done by our mashi ( aunty who helped us with cleaning and washing).

My best days would be when my father ordered Bhetki fish fillet.I used to stand next to my father with wide eyes watching the fish seller take out his bonti(curved blade rising out of a narrow, flat, wooden base) to attack the head and remove the scales and then with the swift move of a “fish- knife” ( unlike our fancy knives; it is a huge knife which looks like a ruler from a geometry box) he used to de-bone the fish and chop the fish fillets according to my father’s requisition.

Like an inquisitive intern I used to imaginatively chop the Bhetki fish using my imaginary knife and then waited patiently for him to pack the fish fillets in a white plastic bag and the Bhetki Kanta ( leftovers from the Bhetki Fish) in a black polythene bag so that the “boudi” (meaning sister-in- law; my mother) could conveniently wash and refrigerate.  Another separate small bag to carry the fish head to be cooked with Greens was neatly packed and given to us.

As a kid I thought my mother and father knew these fish-sellers because my father used to coax him to clean the fish properly so that his “boudi” should not get upset. And often fish –sellers called out to the half-sleep “babus” who visited the bazaars by telling them “ Fresh machch niye jaan; boudi khushi hoben” ( Take fresh fish. Boudi will be happy). For a long time I wondered how the fish sellers knew what the boudis wanted in the kitchen. How could they sit miles away with their fishes and know whether boudis wanted small fish like Morola, shrimps to add to the saag ( greens)  or prepare rohu/ katla jhol. This long distance relationship between the fish seller brother in law and the middle class bhadramahila boudi always fascinated me. These were the days before the mobile phones acted as the mediating device between the babu’s wife and the fish seller.

Till one day I discovered the truth of this relationship when my mother was irritated with my father for buying some fish which she did not like she commented that my father’s brother ( i.e., the fish-seller) should stop from making assumptions about what his sister in law likes to cook. At this moment I interrupted and said that “You are being rude. He really likes you maa (Bengali word for mother). He often de-bones and removes the scales without charging a penny because he does not want to inconvenience his “boudi”. I thought justice was done. Well, this further aggravated the tensions. My mother was furious that my father had some secret talk about my mother’s non-preference for some fishes with a fish-seller.

Time passes by. After completing my years of internship under my father I have attained the “eye”, “smell”, and “feel” of what a good fish could look like. Whenever I visit the slightly not too familiar yet close to a “bazaar” of my childhood  in Delhi and the fish sellers assure me of the quality of the fish and often suggests recipes and packs the fish in plastic bags I miss the “Machcher” Bag of my childhood days. Every time I return home with packets filled with fishes I remember the ways in which my Rashmoni Bazaar fish seller in Kolkata would remind me on my way back to office to carry the Machcher Bag as he would be supplying me the best priced Bhetki, Topshe or Hilsa. I miss him. Everytime I prepare a checklist of things to buy from the market , I wonder if I would find a perfect machcher bag just like my childhood days.

©itiriti