Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Calcutta Nostalgia: Shubho Nabobarsho

The Bengali New Year's Day generally falls on 14th or 15th of April according to the English Calender Year. It's the "Poila Baisakh" (The 1st month of a Hindu Calender Year) of Bengali New Year.

The Bengali New Year Day starts with late-morning wake up-a little later than usual- to the Special New Year Supplement of Bengali & English Newspapers, namely, "Ananda Bazar Patrika", "Bartamaan", "Aajkal", "Pratidin", "The Telegraph", "The Statesman", "The Times Of India", "Hindustan Times", "The Indian Express", "The Hindu", "The Calcutta Chronicle" with Dudh-Cha (Milk-Tea) & Creamcracker/ Marie Biscuit.

....A leisurely read is followed by an even-leisurely breakfast
Breakfast is well-spread of Luchi/Radhaballavi ("puri" in hindi made with maida, hing & stuffings) and Alur-Dum with Payesh (a cold-dessert prepared with milk, rice/ vermicelli, gur, almond & pistachio). The Breakfast is followed by a quick-look at the ingredients of the Lunch-Menu, and a check-out of Sweets (Rossogolla, Sandesh are a must) stocked in Refridgerator at every hour till Lunch.

Then telephonic-wishing round of "Shubho Nabobarsho" to friends & relatives across the globe and also tell them about the lunch-menu. After that, getting ready with a new set of Payjama & Punjabi ("punjabi" is a bengali-kurta usually embroidered with elaborate motifs) for "Adda"-Sessions.

Time For Lunch
The Lunch is as elaborate as-ghee bhaat (rice with ghee), shukto (bengali style mixed-vegetable with an emphasis on bitterness), dal-maachher matha diye (moong-dal cooked with fish-heads), begun bhaja (cubes of brinjal fried with ricedust), potoler dorma (parwals stuffed with paneer cooked in dry-gravy of coconut & mustard sauce), bagda/golda chingri malaicurry (tiger/jumbo prawns cooked with coconut-milk), elish/bhetki/koi/pabda/chitol/parshe/topshe maachher jhaal (types of fishes in masala-curry)- and the dessert is loaded with plastic chutney/ anaras chutney/ khejur-aamsattar chutney (sweet dish extracts of mango/pineapple) and mishti-doi (sweet curd).

The Lunch is punctuated with political discussions, literary criticism & other topics strictly requiring raised-voices and passionate points-of-view !!

The Evening sees a walk around the locality, a taste of chaats/phuchhkas and a halt at a para-function where somebody would inevitably be singing: "jibone ki pabona, bhulechi shey bhabna, saamne jaa dekhi janina sheki, ashol ki nokol shona" or "purano shei diner kotha, bhulbi kire haay o, shei chokher dekha praner kotha, sheki bhola jaay". Then another round of Rolls/Cutlets & a good "adda"-session there itself.

And if you are a Calcuttan Bengali, then its time for Dinner....
No-matter where you are through-out the evening, its a must to be at Park Street/China Town by 9pm & participate in the line to get through your-choice of restaurant. The Gastronomical Newyear's Day should end with Peter Cat's chelo kebab, Waldorf's mandarin-fish, Blue Fox's lobster thermidot, Skyroom's mixed-grill with baked-alaska, Mocambo's chicken supreme & crab meat cocktail, Floriana's spicy hunan chicken.

As you come back home and turn-in for the night, you have a hope that is all well with the world. And if isn't, it will turn out just fine.


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