Do you live in Bengal? Are you leisurely browsing a newspaper, while sipping tea and happily humming to the tunes of Manna Dey’s ‘Rimjhi Bristi’ playing on the Radio; enjoying every moment of the monsoons? Or is it just the opposite? The nagging rain, the puddles everywhere, the tiring humidity, the longer than usual traffic jams (as if office commute wasn’t bad enough); is it irritating you to the core? The Monsoons of Bengal – whether you love it, or hate it, you cannot ignore it! We Bengali’s associate every emotion with food and the monsoons are no different. As the rain starts pouring down, the “bhojon roshik bangali’s” soul yearns for some typical gourmet delicacies pertinent only for the season. Here are 4 such delicacies without which Bengali’s cannot fathom their monsoons.
- Bhar er Cha (tea in an earthen pot): A hot, steaming cup of sugary indulgence – ‘Bhar er cha’ from some ‘Dada r Thek’ (roadside vendor who we know for ages and have gotten accustomed to calling ‘Dada’ meaning brother) while it is pouring like cats and dogs. We halfheartedly try not to get drenched yet enjoy every bit it. Oh! the sweet offerings of everyday mundane life.
- Ilish Mach: We bengali’s worship Ilish(hilsa) and practically know everything that is there to know about them. It is customary for our fathers and grandfathers to grab a ‘baja er tholi’ (shopping bag) and dive into a chaotic fish market (even if its water logged)like its a war zone and proudly come back home to display their winnings (which probably cost-ed them more than they are willing to disclose), that one delicious ILISH. An Ilish is a matter of pride for them, be it ‘Jhor Jol Bristi (Storm, Water or Rain) or their ‘Hatu Bytha’ (knee pain – only the most common kind of disease among bengali’s) when it comes to ILISH they are our very own bengali Superman.
- Tel-e Bhaja(Fried Food) : Beguni, Singara, Chop, Fish Fry, Cutlet – you name it! Gorom(hot) tel-e-bhaja, a thunderstorm and lots of ‘ombol’(acidity) – life is imperfect without these little pleasures. A lobhi(greedy) bangali will pounce on a tel-e-bhaja like a hayna pounces on its prey and devours it as quickly.
- Khichuri : For a Bengali “Brishti Manei Khichuri” which loosely means “If it’s Rain, it’s Kichuri”. A day of relentless rain, toiling through water logged roads, maybe some amount of walking too in knee deep water(if its Kolkata your are doing it), reaching home drenched , tired and thoroughly frustrated. A piping hot bowl of kichuri with its aromatic excellence, bright yellow color and as we bengali’s call it ‘Bhubon-Bhola’(loosely meaning forgetting earthly desires) taste is enough to take away all your troubles.
Keep Eating ! Wish you Happy Monsoons !