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  • Tuck In

    Narkel Naru | Bengali Coconut Confection

    The festivities celebrating different forms of the Goddess are nearly over – the Navratri fervour will reach its crescendo tonight with Ravan dahan even as the Durga devotees are gearing up for that final adieu, the idol immersion. That feeling of having enjoyed a festival to its maximum, mixed with that bittersweet emotion of the end of something good is palpable in the atmosphere. I’ve always had an intense dislike for this feeling. “Why must the festivities get over?” has always been my grouse. Even as a child, I would sulk after Navratri and Durga Puja were over… similar to a young adult sulking when the party is over. Trust my parents to have the perfect trick…

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    Dimer Devil | Bengali Deviled Eggs

    Chops or cutlets are an integral part of the Bengali’s food culture, as is evident when a Bengali lists his/her ‘favourite snacks’ or ‘popular street foods’. Every one of us has his/her favourite bhaaja (batter fried) that we want with our lunch of dal-bhaat (lentil soup-rice) or the evening chai. The classic street food, a generous appetiser, the perfect accompaniment to the evening drink, a chop is destined to lift your spirits with the crunch of the deep-fried golden brown cover and the perfectly seasoned (and cooked) filling. Satisfaction guaranteed. There have been times when, as children, the elder sister and I have gazed with longing at that last chop as Maa urged it on…

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    Elo Jhelo | Fried Bengali Pastries

    I’ve recently developed a craving for sweet food. This craving rears its head at the strangest of times and more often than not, behaves like that puppy determined to chew on your favourite shoe. And it’s nowhere cute because indulging this craving leads to a sugar overload, late-r nights and blurry-eyed mornings. Let’s not even mention the not-so-good effects of refined sugar if I’ve fallen prey to store-bought mithai* or those glistening chocolate éclairs. It happens often. Very, very often. This new craving has also turned into a major topic of discussion at the dining table. The parents stand divided with their concerns. They both love sweets. They indulge their sweet tooth,…

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    Tuck In

    How to Celebrate ‘World Vegetarian Day’?

    I’ll be honest. I was a bit flummoxed when I first read that October 1 is celebrated as World Vegetarian Day! As someone born in India, vegetarian food has been a part-and-parcel of life as far as memory stretches. My family loves its fish, meat, seafood and what not. But we love our vegetarian food as much. So much so that you’ll see the lot of us sticking to vegetarian food during the relentless summers – easy on the digestive system – and on some festival days – for spiritual reasons. Curious, I went on an internet searching spree – starting with the Oxford Dictionary – and found some rather…

  • Talk,  Tuck In

    Harepyaaz ki Lehsuni Khichdi | Spring Onion & Garlic Khichdi

    I’ve been feeling a bit off weather the past few days, having strained my right arm to the maximum with all the typing and keyboard bashing that I indulge in. Add to that the moody weather – at times cloudy, at times scorching – and I am feeling down in the dumps. At such times it’s comfort food that the body and soul crave. Cue in lots of khichdi – sometimes with kadhi, or roasted fish, or vegetable fritters or just some achaar. Khichdi, after all, is the hug in a bowl. As a Bengali growing up in Gujarat, I’ve had my share of khichdi at Bengali and Gujarati households. And the tastes varied in each…

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    Maida Pakoda | Flour Fritters

    It was a gloomy monsoon evening, the skies overcast with thick clouds as raindrops lashed the glass panes, the howling winds a reminder of nature’s force. The parents were slumped before the television set, sipping on chai, as I sat on a sofa, struggling to concentrate on work. The sound of the doorbell jarred the gloom, the loud sound rousing us from the slump and forcing Maa to shuffle to the door. Who knew the opening of those doors would dispel the approaching dark, bringing in the joy of light, laughter and taste! Who knew that a plate of fritters would make us shake off the sluggishness and add the always needed munch to…

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    Mewe ka Paag | Dried Fruit-&-nut Bar

    Spot a festival marked on the calendar and I immediately start grilling my mother about the food. The latest conversation went something like this… Me: Maa! It’s Janmashtami on September 3. What’s special on the menu for the day?Maa: Hmmm… I could make payesh but then you are lactose intolerant so…Me: Okay. What else?Maa: Your grandmother made delicacies when we were kids but we never observe Janmashtami with much fervour so I’ve never bothered.Me: But Maaaaa………….Maa: Go ask Verma aunty; they celebrate Janmashtami every year, I’m sure she’ll cook up something special. And boy, was she right! Verma aunty – our front-door neighbour, Maa’s BFF and a brilliant cook –…

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    Nimki | Bengali Savoury Crackers

    An oval-shaped dining table dominates the living room of our family home. It’s the place where we eat our meals, yes. But there’s much more to that table. The dining table is where Baba* sits to sift through the daily mail and at the end of the month, attempt to make sense of my expenses. The table is where Maa prefers to solve the newspaper puzzles and crosswords. It’s my choice of seat with a cuppa as I read through gossip pages of newspapers or drool over the magazines I subscribe to. The table is where we dissect the ‘who said what’ and ‘why they said what they said’. It’s…

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    Ol’er Daalna | Elephant Foot Yam Curry

    Gosh! Have you ever marvelled and shaken your head at the ease with which the child version of you was made a fool of? I do! Seems I was a rather happy-go-lucky and trusting child, willing to believe almost everything the parents told me. And when it came to food – and yes, I was born a food worshipper – everything the parents said was taken as the gospel truth. Probably the reason why Maa got away with convincing me that the elephant foot yam curry and the raw jackfruit curry that she would make often were actually meat curries. Seems I was rather demanding a food lover and wanted…

  • Talk,  Tuck In

    Chef Mauro Ferrari in town!

    After nearly a decade in journalism and having interviewed a decent number of people, I can safely say I have the ability to distinguish between people who speak to you for publicity and those who want to share more about their passion. Chef Mauro Ferrari is willing to do the former but it’s the latter that shines through his eyes when he speaks to you about food. A native of Milan but having travelled across the globe to share his creativity with food, Chef is an entrepreneur, a brand ambassador and a sommelier. Snippets from a quick conversation with Chef Ferrari who is always keen to speak about food –…