What is the tradition of Poila Boishakh or Bengali New year? Other than a few that I remember from my childhood, the pertinent question that needs to be asked is- what is the food tradition of Poila Boishakh?
Different houses will have different traditions which have been passed on from generation to generation but as the families have grown nuclear, the custodians of traditions have reduced and the rigidity of the traditions have loosened. No, we didn’t wear new clothes this year, whereas this was mandatory in the formative years.
If the question is asked about the tradition with respect to food, you will perhaps get more views than on recent past demonetization. Which dish is a must have? Shukto? Begun bhaja? Biulir daal? Ilish Macch or Katla? While we were doing a piece in Eazydiner on places to eat in Kolkata during Poila Boishakh, we realised two things. One – Topshe Machh was in high demand this year as almost all the places were doing Topshe fry and Kosha Mangsho is still the undisputed king when it comes to tickle the customer sentiments. This raises few more questions. Eating out or cooking at home? I guess, in most of the households, where the older members are still existent, eating out is still a no no. Some may beg to differ, since nowadays, one gets to see entire families at restaurants during Poila Boishakh. And by restaurant, I don’t mean the one serving good old Bengali food. The half brother of Bengali food – Amader Chinese is also equally coveted along with other contemporary food joints.
As an onlooker of the food traditions and as Bengali food lover, I guess, next few years will be exciting to keep a watch for more change. We have had very bad experiences in the middle rung Bengali restaurants and I got quoted in The Telegraph (pat on the back). The words may sound rude and may ruffle some feathers but it has to be read in the whole context and not as a standalone piece. The other issue is that it has been 1 year that we visited Pune and with much aghast, I had written this on Bengali restaurants in Pune. However when Facebook popped up the memory and I asked the same group of people who has responded last year – the response is same. Leave aside any conclusion, the biggest and the only takeaway now is that in the last 1 year, no new name has popped up in the Bengali food restaurant genre.
We had lunch at home and ordered some kebabs from outside in the evening. Kosha Mangsho was also there as a part of the lunch as was Mourala Machh Bhaja. The problem was the next day – Sunday. The body and the taste buds have got such conditioned that one cannot have completely niramish khabar. The temperature was also on the rise. The refrigerator had plenty of leftover chicken kebabs. Chicken salad was made.
Read – Some of the best Kosha Mangsho in the Kolkata
Not only the colours of the chicken salad looked like a temptress, presence of yellow and red bell pepper and plenty of onions gave that crunch and the kasundi/mustard dressing gave the necessary spike. I guess this is a twofer. The summer menu is taken care of and Sunday Amish craving is addressed. Let me know how it turned out?