It has been 13 days I am in home quarantine in Mumbai, more than 2000 km away from my hometown Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. For me, the announcement of a 21-day nationwide lockdown by the PM on March 24, 2020 means an excruciating extension of my stay-at-home mode and it’s a challenge. While following the lockdown and health advisories like any other law-abiding citizens, I have realized that it’s extremely difficult for the Bengalis in general to resist the culinary desire. Flash of thoughts reminding of mouth-watering traditional Shukto (a veg dish) Posto (poppy seeds), the ever-green macher jhol (Fish Curry) and chicken and mutton kosha (Semi dry curry) is both titillating and tempting to the taste buds.
Initially I was under the impression that preparing traditional delicacies is extremely elaborate, complicated and tremendously time-consuming. Blame it on the food delivery apps for developing such perception.
As lockdown has started challenging our self-dependence, I took up the challenge. I have started venturing more often to my kitchen and pestering my mom for the tips, tricks and secrets which she always effortlessly applies to prepare dishes for me at home. Those preparations smell and taste heavenly.
After a series of phone calls, video calls and message exchanges with my mother who answered all my queries – some are sensible and some are straightway stupid – with motherly concern and affection, I got on with my mission and stationed myself to my kitchen and prepared my favourite Aloo Posto, Dhokar Dalna (Lentil cake gravy), Mutton Kosha followed by Bengali plastic chutney (please don’t assume that we use plastic).
And the result? Tasty home-made dishes and a strong bond with home away from home. In that process, I felt that I have started understanding my mother even better and most importantly have inculcated a habit of cooking traditional Bengali dishes. The entire experience of cooking at home is encouraging me to spread the eclectic essence of Bengali cuisine to the outside world.
My next mission is to prepare the delicacies for my friends and office colleagues in a COVID19 free World.
(The author is Chief Communication Strategist at Mumbai-based communication agency, Passion 4 Communication Pvt Ltd.)