Tag Archives: Bangali Babu

Posto: A Rare Vegan Diet for a Quintessential Bengali

Sampurna Majumder shares her stint with a rare vegetarian dish – posto (khus khus or poppy seeds)

posto 3

Bhaat e Macch e Bangali (Rice and Fish make a true Bengali), so goes an adage. True. Food has always been a weakness for Bengalis. The quintessential Bangali Babu’s meal would be incomplete without these ingredients – bhaat, machher jhol and a bhaja (any vegetable fried, brinjal or bitter gourd/uchhe bhaja). However, Bengali cuisine offers a whole range of vegan delicacies as well.

Posto (poppy seeds or khus khus) is an integral part of Bengali cuisine. The use of posto in Bengali cuisine dates back to almost two centuries. Posto finds its place in Bengali literature as well. Bankim Chnadra Chattopadhyaya’s Kamalanter Daptar (From the Desk of Kamalakanta) is one such example. Written on the lines of De Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Bankim’s protagonist remains inebriated most of the time as an aftereffect of consuming too much opium (drug obtained from poppy seeds). Opium dens are known to exist in Kolkata’s China Town as during the 1940s.

posto

The sole purpose of penning this note is nothing but nostalgia buffs. Few days back, the quintessential Bengali in me was craving for some kaancha posto (raw khus khus). I remember way back in the 90s when I was barely a decade old, my granny would pretty often make kaancha posto. She would grind them mixed with water and some salt; then add some chopped onions, green chilies and a zing of strong-smelling mustard oil.

kancha posto

As a kid, my share of the yummy kaancha posto would be devoid of the green chilies. However, as I grew up green chilies made their way to my kaancha posto and thus began my never-ending love affair with this sumptuous vegan Bengali dish. Pretty often I have eaten all my rice with kaancha posto! Yes and it gives me a high till date whenever which is followed by the afternoon siesta which comes as a booty along with it.

Advertisements

Celebrating the Day of Love – the ‘Bangali’ Way

Saraswati puja

As a community, the Bengalis have always been associated with the finer things of life. Aesthetics defined their very existence. For example, adjectives like gourmet and connoisseur of music and art are very commonly associated with them. Since music, art and scholastic are highly regarded by Bengalis, it’s no surprise that Saraswati Puja, the Goddess of Wisdom is widely celebrated by them with much pomp and pleasure.

There goes a traditional saying in Bengal – Baaro Mashey Taro Parbon, literally translated as Thirteen Festivals in Twelve Months. Well, true, from Poush Parbon in January to Bhai Phota (Bhaai Duj) in November – every festival is celebrated with much fervour.

Basant Panchami or Saraswati Puja is usually celebrated sometime in the month of February. Incidentally, the festival often coincides with Valentine’s Day. An interesting fact about Saraswati Puja is that, it is often considered to be the day where everyone has the full freedom to flirt around. Often young couples are spotted roaming around the para hand in hand dressed in new clothes. By the way, let me be more precise, the dress code is also somewhat defined – pyjama-punjabi (kurta) for the tougher sex while the fairer sex dawns a sari usually in various shades of yellow. This phenomenon has earned the day the sobriquet – Bengali Valentine’s Day.

And yes, even if Saraswati Puja means worshipping the Goddess of Wisdom with much devotion, as mentioned earlier, the gourmet Bengali will fish some lip-smacking vegan delicacies on this auspicious day.

Special menu for the day comprise khichudi, labra, beguni, papad and chatni – somewhat simple as compared to a usual elaborate meal a typical Bangali Babu would prefer having.

khichuri

The rice used for a typical Bangali style khichudi is Govindbhog. Other items include potato, seasonal vegetables (cauliflower, carrots), paanch phoron, tej patta and dried red chillies for those who like it hot.

Khichudi is accompanied by labra which is a medley of assorted vegetables; beguni – slices of brinjal deep fried after dipped in a batter of gram flour, fried papad and of course the sweet accompaniment at the end – kuler chatni.

A sumptuous meal of the bhog would wind up the day, while the fun quotient would still continue.

Though in the present times DJs belting out tunes of Honey Singh has long replaced the traditional Bengali ones, the essence continues to enthrall all and sundry.

pujo