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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ramblings.....

At the onset wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! Albeit a belated one..

Had been away from blogsphere the past three weeks. Reason? Nothing in general....didnt have the urge to peep into my cyberden. Not that there weren’t any topics to discuss....
Lot of events took place, especially in the India Inc scenario..and the skeletons continue to tumble out even as I write.. but I guess more than enough has been and is being written and spoken about the same.

Frankly I have nothing in particular to jot down.
A holiday midweek (Pongal) is indeed a bonus. So I guess I'll indulge myself and just ramble ....

Yesterday evening, as is my normal routine, I was talking to my Mother over phone and she was expressing regret that we were not around to have the goodies she was preparing on the occasion of 'Poush Sankranti'. As I kept the phone down, and continued with the normal chores, I kept thinking of the regret in her voice.....

Ours is a family where cooking is considered almost fine art. And in both my maternal as well as paternal sides of the family, there is an unwritten rule whereby cooking is not considered a chore but an art form which is ‘performed’ by the 'Kortree' of the family. Coincidentally both my grandmothers were famous in their respective extended families as great cooks and hostesses. My mother and aunts have upheld the tradition to a very large extent. For that matter I guess Bengalis, in general, are foodlovers and Cooking, Feeding others and Eating a wide variety of great food are intrinsic part of the Bong tradition. I guess none but Bongs will spend hours debating, analyzing and in general discussing the finer nuances of the culinary experience.

As for me, I have inherited the love for good food but unlike my grandmothers, mother and aunts, I do not love cooking to distraction. However, thank God that the genes did not desert me completely and despite my lack of fondness for cooking, I can dish out edible and at most times moderately tasty food!!!
Whenever I delegate a portion of the daily cooking to my maid, I do feel a twinge of guilt at not being 100% sincere in carrying on the family tradition..!!

Well, coming back to where I started .... yesterday's conversation with Ma brought back memories of the 'Poush Parbon' celebrations back at home.

What is Poush Parbon in Bengal, is Bihu in Assam, Lohri in the north and Pongal in the South... Traditionally a rural festival celebrated down the ages throughout India, whereby the winter harvest is ushered in with joyous ceremony, now these are social festivities celebrated in moderation in many an urban family.

In Bengal, on the ocassion of Poush Parbon (also known as Poush Sankranti), sweet dishes made of inherently agrarian ingredients like rice flour, coconut, sweet potatoes, datepalm jaggery (patali gur) are used to dish out mouthwatering delicacies. In various nooks and corners of the country, variations of such sweet delights are served during this time of the year. It is inherently a celebration of India’s agrarian roots.
As families are getting scattered, extended families gradually becoming distant memories, our children are growing up in a nuclear world. Rituals and traditions which we took for granted during our growing up years are becoming rarer by the day.

While we are busy embracing the world and are becoming global citizens, we are gradually losing our rich culture, tradition, folklore which lend India its distinct characteristic so unique in the whole wide world.

Being the impulsive person I am, it struck me, that as a mother, I HAD to do something to familiarize my child with atleast glimpses of the traditions I grew up with. This being my maiden independent effort, I was not too adventurous or ambitious. Hence I decided to try out the easiest of the lot of pitheys..i.e Patishapta. And incidentally I had all the required ingredients at home. Reconfirming the recipe from my mother, I got down to work.


Well….the day is over, the patishaptas having been gobbled up and here I am rambling away aimlessly..
But the satisfaction that we all derived eating the hot, moist and soft patishaptas was worth every minute of the few hours spent slogging in the kitchen,

Long live our exotic local delicacies!!!
Bibliography
Poush Sankranti - Poush sankranti or Makar sankranti is a nationwide celebration to usher in the winter harvest. It also marks the Sun's passage from Capricorn to Aquarius and is a very auspicious day in the Hindu calendar.
Kortree - First Lady of the Joint Family who reigns over the inner domains of the home
Patishapta - A sweet dish. Pan Cakes made of Rice flour+all-purpose flour with a filling made of coconut and jaggery

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are awesome...as usual...we too missed here the sankranti pitheys...good not manage to get khowa so probably next time i will prepare it myself for the pitheys...prisha and aviroop don't like coconut filling so i did not venture in that area...

ask said...

hey! happy sankranti!!!...as usual nice read...."patishaptas" looks yummy

eshwari

HR said...

Some people in this universe are extremely greedy,have unfettered apatite for savory dishes and never say no attitude for anything very tasty, are always keen to try something distinct BUT devoid of culinary expertise. I belong to this category who are not adequately blessed with the noble quality of preparing mind- boggling eatables.
These gourmets with drooling mouth await bestowal of others to fill their paunch. There is a very popular saying in bong community. They request people like us ( probably I am clear what I am) not to look at other's plate, otherwise , the person may leak next day.
As usual, the writing of the author is always a splendor,the prowess gives a new height to a very common subject.I feel she may consider writing in magazines,newspaper editorials etc.All the best...
Few more please...

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

heh heh!! And, here I am in Kolkata hogging the various pithes supplied by my didus, aunts and ma!!