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Monday, February 20, 2006





KHUB BHALO DADA

What was it Cecil Rhodes told an assembled throng of young British schoolboys?
Something about having been born British and consequently having won first prize in the lottery of life.

I have to say, the same thought runs through my head when I think of the fact that I come from Bengali stock. Our family originates in Calcutta, the home of Rabindranath Tagore and the city of which the saying was coined, "what Calcutta thinks today, India will think tomorrow" But, most of all, it is because of the food. To those who think they know Indian food, Calcuttan food is a bit of a shock. Whilst known for their spectacular desserts all over India, the rest of Calcuttan food is often considered bland, eschewing as it does, in a Brahmin household such as my fathers, onions and garlic and depending on few spices ( particularly turmeric and mustard ) For me however, it is the taste of purity and clean flavours

My mother, may God continue to bless her, was from Wales but,by some fabulous fortune found, during her stays in Calcutta, she had a knack of cooking Bengali food of the very highest order. My favourite memories of her include her Mascher Jhol ( fish curry ) and Yoghurt Chicken. I can taste them now and can hear her voice as she explained how long to cook the spices and when to add the other ingredients.

Tonight Hermano Primero ( or Dada as an older brother is called in Bengali ) decided to cook up a couple of dishes. So, I was able to sit down to a perfectly made red lentil dhal with a tarka of ginger, chilli and cinnamon and a mutton curry.

Both were spot on. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they were the finest Big Bruv has ever cooked. The dahl was just the right Bengali thickness ( slightly more runny than in many regions ) and the mutton curry had extraordinary depth of flavour and a backnote of heat just short of burning. #

With a Raita ( please my American chums NOT pronounced Ray-ee-ta, but as in paperback writer ) it was an ideal meal for a winter's night.

DHANYABAAD
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