fromthecornertable, from the corner table, labanga latika, labangalatika, clove, sweet, mithai, mawa, mishti, bengalisweet, bengali sweet

Labanga Latika | Sweet Clove Parcels

It’s amazing the way certain foods trigger memories of times gone by, relations lost in the passage of time – the memory brightening your mood faster than a cup of coffee or a quart of ice cream can. Labanga latika, a Bengali sweet dish, is one such food item for me. I don’t remember a time when I’ve not eaten…

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…

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…

Shorshe Salmon | Salmon in Mustard Sauce

Nearly a decade of living in the United Kingdom has made the elder sister a good cook and an almost expert in the art of ‘kitchen substitutes’. A cheerleader for the ‘quick and easy’ meal squad, Raka (the elder sister’s name that means ‘full moon’) confesses that she has learned by trial and error. “I would crave certain Bengali dishes…

Azeri KyuKyu | Herb-ed Omelette

There is something magical in the way eggs, whisked thoroughly, seasoned with a pinch of salt and cooked in a pat of butter or oil, can produce something as deceptively simple like an omelette. And I speak of the basic omelette. Type in the word ‘omelette’ in the search engine of your choice and it will throw up variants enough…

Aloo Posto | Potatoes in Creamy Poppy Seed Paste

“I’m about to board the flight/train. See you soon.”“Okay. By the way, what do you want for lunch/dinner?”“You know Maa! Moshuri daal, bhaat, ghee maakha aloo sheddo (red lentil soup, steamed rice, mashed potato seasoned with ghee and salt)” This conversation, or a version of it, is repeated each time I am on the way home after travelling for days/weeks/months.…

A Newbie’s Guide to Azeri Cuisine #Chapter2

Did you know?# The process of making Azeri specialities dolma and flatbreads (lavash, katyrma, jupka, yufka) are inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.# Azerbaijan cuisine boasts of more than 30 types of soups.# Black caviar from the Caspian Sea is among the most sought after in the world. Azerbaijan boasts of human settlements dating…

A Newbie’s Guide to Azeri Cuisine #Chapter1

There is a lot of food culture that goes on in the home and in the community in non-traditional ways. Food is a lot more than restaurants. – Eddie Huang (American chef, food personality) For me, home is where food becomes an expression of love, a comforting hug, a celebration, a new tradition, an experience, making it an extension of…

Chai, halva & Azeri hospitality

One of the most beautiful memories that I have brought back from Azerbaijan has been the Azeri passion for food and the warmth they extend to those who appreciate this passion. The warmth that envelopes you as the food bearers — be it the lady of the house or the restaurant server — place the food on the table and serve it makes you feel like a king about to feast!

I promise to make your mouths salivate and ensure that you dream about the wealth that is the Azerbaijani cuisine soon but before that, I do need to touch upon and introduce you to a fascinating experience that is part of the Azeri social fabric. This is the drinking of chai or tea, served with some local or homemade fruit preserve that they call ‘jam’.

The mention of tea and jam in the same breadth will probably remind you of the famous Do-Re-Mi song from the classic movie The Sound of Music. Which might make you feel I’ve forgotten to write ‘bread’. But rest assured I have not!

The first time I was served tea and jam was on day one, after a gut bursting lunch. As the little crystal glass filled with the dark golden liquid floated towards me, I couldn’t help but think that the Gods and Goddesses of tea are working overtime to woo me over to their side. How else do you explain a coffee lover stumbling upon tea recipes (and trying them as you’ll read in Tale of Three Teas), venturing to the southern part of India to walk through the tea estates in Munnar (read Tales from Munnar) and then have a heart-to-heart with tea sommelier and artisan Snigdha (read Tea Time tête-à-tête)!

Payesh & Goodwill to Usher in the New Year

It’s that time of the year! I’ve been waiting for Poila Boishakh, the first day of the Bengali calendar, for some time now. Celebrations aside, the best part of this day is the aroma of traditional food that wafts out of the kitchen. This year, Poila Boishakh is on Sunday, April 15.

The food and rituals, I feel, are a testimony to the synergy that Bengalis have towards their traditions. Not just Bengalis. Peep into the homes in your neighbourhood (not literally!) and you will see the Assamese, Malayali, Sikh, Tamil households busy cleaning house, prepping to greet guests and cooking up a storm. A sign of the earnest desire to cherish traditions. These are among the several communities in India that will be celebrating the beginning of their New Year on April 14-15.

Over the years, celebration patterns at the Bhaumick household have changed – new and old friends, thought processes, cultural programmes, the manner of rejoicing.

Never the food though. There is comfortable excitement in the known – starting the day with a breakfast of luchi, aloo’r dum and begun bhaaja (fried bread, Bengali style potato curry with fried brinjal), followed by a lavish lunch of two appetisers, a dal, vegetable curries, fish curry, mutton or chicken curry, a few sweets and a must on New Year day, the payesh. Our New Year days don’t involve so much food anymore but we don’t miss out on the maangsho jhol (recipe for Bengali style mutton curry) and the payesh.

I am not a payesh fan, being lactose intolerant. But I do make an exception for Khejur Gur Payesh. Made with date palm jaggery that is available in the winter months only, it is a Bengali speciality. So this year, I decided to learn how to make my favourite. And because New Years are about going overboard, I also learned to make Chhana Payesh – a milk pudding made with chhana or paneer. Chhana is a type of cheese curd; process it further and you get paneer. No Indian store nearby? Make chhana at home, the process is pretty simple as is evident in ‘Churning out homemade chhana/paneer’.